Upfronts season: Michael Stephenson on why we won’t see ads on Stan, and Nine’s upcoming slate

In the first of Mumbrellacast's Upfronts Series, Nine's Michael Stephenson talks through some of the main takeaways from the event, including why it devoted time to Stan if there are no ads to come, how the migration to Galaxy is tracking (and why the holdcos are leading that), why it will continue to be progressive in its presentation, and a deeper dive into more of Nine's updates.

The question of Stan, and whether we will see ads any time soon was on the lips of many advertising executives following Nine’s Upfront event last week.

Speaking on the first Mumbrellacast Upfronts podcast series, chief sales officer Michael Stephenson says, “we don’t need to put ads into Stan. We already have an ad-funded streaming product, it’s called 9Now.”

Questioned why “Australia’s Media Company” would devote a portion of its time to its exclusive 1500-person guest list, if ad space was not available any time soon, he says the point of showcasing it was to show the strength and breadth of content production.

The audience this year was much broader and wider than just a traditional media buying, agency, or client audience he continues.

“But in terms of will there be ads on Stan? Well if you’re buying into our rugby coverage, of course, all of the integration from Nine does get pulled through into the Stan Sport platform.”

Michael Stephenson

“So unlike others, we don’t need to put ads in there. We’ve spoken publicly before, both myself and Mike around the economics of doing that. We don’t see any benefits, certainly for our company. So there are no plans to do that anytime in the future.”

For those that are bringing ads to our shores in the near future, like Netflix, Stephenson reckons its ad function won’t be a threat for Nine and its network colleagues, rather to the social players.

“Clearly they produce long-form professionally produced content. So of course the more people that we have in the market producing quality content, in particular if it is local and Australian, I think is a good thing.”

“I think if you’re an advertiser and you were spending money on digital video today, I suspect the smart ones would take their money away from social video like YouTube and Facebook and move that into Netflix and BVOD, as opposed to moving any of their advertising dollars today from 9Now, 7Plus or 10Play into Netflix.”

He says that a bigger pool of premium content continues to fuel the rise of BVOD, “and as it should”.

“It’s a far more premium, quality advertising environment than social video, and we’ve proven that time and time again.”

After reports last week that buyers may look to play the market this year, rather than opt for larger upfront commitments, Stephenson says, “there are a range of factors that are in our economy right now that may or may not impact on ad markets”.

The scale of Nine’s content and capability was on show last week

“I don’t have a crystal ball to see that. We don’t see it at the moment, and markets are very, very strong and I suspect that will continue in the short to mid-term. But I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a marketer because the opportunity to grow your business and take market share in periods of economic change is enormous.”

“But to do that, you’ve got to choose a media partner, and so I would be surprised if media agencies were floating large parts of their upfront commitments. But certainly, we’re here ready, willing, and able to have conversations that are far longer term than shorter term, but if people do decide to do that, then so be it. I can’t control that. We will be there every day producing great content that delivers bigger audiences than anybody across all platforms, and I reckon we’re a pretty good partner, not perfect by any stretch, but we’re most things to most people, we’ve got the best content we’ve got the best data, and we’ve got the best technology.”

Across the rest of the conversation, Stephenson speaks about why Nine’s content will deliver “52 weeks of prime time dominance”, how it aimed to deliver a more progressive strategy around its upfronts, why the five holding companies are seeing far greater uptake of its buying platform, Galaxy than the independents, and why now linear TV remains the only way for advertisers to reach one million people tonight.

Listen to the full interview with Nine’s Michael Stephenson below.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.