Nine update after Daily Mail exit and 9Now launch

Mediaweek speaks to Nine’s chief revenue officer Peter Wiltshire and chief digital and marketing officer Alex Parsons

Mediaweek speaks to Nine’s chief revenue officer Peter Wiltshire and chief digital and marketing officer Alex Parsons

Mediaweek had the chance to speak with NEC’s Peter Wiltshire and Alex Parsons in the days after the release of Nine Entertainment Co’s half year results. We covered a number of topics in brief with members of the NEC executive team.

Wiltshire on TV ratings: “The market has been watching pretty closely to how the networks are performing – but they are not making judgments just on what happens in the opening weeks, they are buying into major formats that fulfil a need for them. If you have a big format coming, it doesn’t mater what the time of year it is. If it is the right format for that advertiser they are going to buy into it.

“Right now we haven’t got a big format working for us, but we have them coming and we have had plenty in the past. It is a timing issue for us at the moment. What has made it tough for us is the cricket with the weather and the Windies where we lost many days’ play.

Parsons on ending the DailyMail.com.au JV: “This allows us to work harder on 9News.com.au. Having a JV didn’t constrain us from doing more in that space, but with two horses, one of them was a brand we would never own that delivered no earnings to our business. We are now able to review the Nine News strategy across TV and digital. We are all really excited about the opportunities that offers us. We have done some good things in that space through the single brand strategy, but there is a lot more we could do to create a habitual number one consumption model across TV and digital for Australian consumers who want to stay up-to-date and increase their social currency by knowing what the hell is going on every single day.”

Parsons on Nine News FTA and an online news channel: “There are more things we could do. Darren Wick has been running the TV and digital news division for close to three years. We are looking at extending streaming news when we are not hosting news on the primary channel.”

Parsons on 9Now opportunities: “There is no reason we couldn’t create additional content channels. We still have a lot of work to do to create a better product. The opportunities that 9Now offers our company are much broader than where we are currently positioned.”

Parsons on traffic: “40% of our page views are via mobile. Some categories are higher and that excludes our apps too. Audiences are migrating to mobile devices with the smartphone the most popular device. We need to have brands and experiences that can transcend devices. We haven’t historically done a great job with that until the last 12-24 months. Our responsive web approach, and TV too now, is to make sure you have a consistent experience. So far we have done a good job in news and we will do a better job in some of the other content categories in the future. If we can do that it helps the sales team sell audiences almost regardless of where they land.”

Wiltshire on digital ad dollars: “There is some pressure in the market around display advertising because there is a lot of it. Because there is a lot of it there is an area of advertising where the desire for safe and premium is not as high as others. Those people are happy to let their advertising appear for a very cheap price wherever runs.

“At the other end of the scale are advertisers who want to be in the safe and premium environment and they are paying more. Where the [digital] market is heading quickly is video and we are getting significant price improvement in parity to linear television in video for much the same content. That is partly demand driven because there is not a lot of supply at the moment, but it is also because you can be a lot more targeted.

“You have a much bigger spread in price across digital inventory than in broadcast. Video is now core to our business. We are a video production company that anchors itself around premium wherever it can.”

Parsons on 2016 content strategy: “In 2015 we added to our platform with many new brands. Through this year our approach will be to amplify those brands and the way we take them to market.”

Parsons on 9Now: “We launched it just a month ago. Sometimes I think it’s been there for six months, but it was January 27. We need to launch our other three channels on the platform and that will happen over the next four-six weeks. That will then turn every internet connected device into a TV. We have also launched the data proposition associated with that which is significantly different to any competitor in Australia. We do require users to sign in. One is that it helps us generate a better consumer experience. 9Now will let a user resume playing a video at home and users can change devices. We can also use first party data to drive better targeted advertising to our audiences. We are close to having 500,000 Australians signed up after four weeks.”

Wiltshire on ad insertion: “We are not far away from a point where we can do live ad insertion in our streaming. That gives us the ability to serve to live TV allowing advertisers to be much more targeted. There are not many organisations in the world who have actually nailed how that works.

Wilshire on 9Life: “To be honest we were a little surprised at how quickly the numbers grew. It just goes to show that consumers know how to find something when they want it. Gone are the days when you would fear they may not find it. Our audience is tech savvy…they can turn on their TV and find it. We didn’t do anything off network to promote 9Life. We also did it over a period of four weeks only. The 9Life average of 70,000 is very good and if you compare that to other subscription TV services it is extraordinary. It’s also a very attractive audience for advertisers.”

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