Inside Nine's 2017 NRL Series

Nine will significantly overhaul its graphics and statistics offering for the broadcast of the 2017 NRL season. 

Speaking at last week’s Nine NRL launch, Tom Malone, Director of Sport, said league fans would notice the major overhaul when it comes to statistics on-screen and the overall quality of the graphics package. 

“One of the big innovations for us this year is behind the scenes where we have implemented a package from a whole new graphics and statistical supplier,” Malone said.

“You will see that manifest itself on television with a whole new look and feel to the graphics package. It will change the amount of statistics we are able to bring up at a moment’s notice.

“It will be really exciting for the viewers as they are chasing stats on the leading players on metres gained or tackles made. All of that stuff will be available at the touch of a button.”

Malone said he expected 2017 to be another big year for rugby league, coming on the back of record viewership for the NRL Grand Final and State of Origin matches.

“2016 was a huge year for Channel Nine,” he said. “The State of Origin reached record numbers and it was another record Grand Final as well.

“I think what we are seeing year-on-year with rugby league, especially with the premium events like State of Origin and the Grand Final, is that they are growing because the broader fan base is also growing.”

He cited the intense viewer and commercial interest in events such as State of Origin as an example of how the game was expanding.

“We have had this incredible run with the Queensland/New South Wales rivalry which has manifested in these incredible viewership numbers of four million-plus across Australia,” Malone said.

“If you look at the progression of rugby league, the progression of audiences, we are set for another huge year. As interest and viewership grows, so too does the fan base.”

Glenn Pallister, Executive Producer of The Footy Show, said he was excited about the return of the NRL’s favourite commentary show, noting how the program has been building social buzz around its 2017 return with a new promo parodying Nine’s hit program, Married at First Sight. 

“I think it’s clever and subtle, without being sledgehammer, but it’s also very ‘us’ to go there,” Pallister joked, while explaining that The Footy Show regularly uses social media to build its TV audiences. 

“Social media is very important to The Footy Show and we try to maintain talkability and relativity on that platform. We are very lucky that two of our hosts – Erin Molan and Beau Ryan – are very social media savvy. They have huge numbers of online followers, they interact well, and are generous in what they give the audience.” 

Pallister also commented on how 2017 would be The Footy Show’s 24th year on-air. 

“In Fatty Vautin’s words, ‘Who would have thought it?’,” he said. “In 1994 the show launched, and as Fatty and Peter Sterling, ‘Sterlo,’ have both said, there’s no way in the world they thought the show would come back – let alone last 24 seasons.”

Pallister said there would be new Footy Show segments in 2017. 

“What can we expect for this year? The show always evolves, and it has to. Twenty-four years is a long time, and if we did the same thing every year we wouldn’t be on,” he said. 

“This year you’ll still see all your favourite segments but with little twists and nuances to make them different. We’ll also introduce some new segments that you’ll see when we progress into the season.” 

Malone predicted that with the breadth of the Nine NRL audience, 2017 would be another strong year, helped by the fact that come finals season, Nine will be broadcasting games on Thursday through to Sunday. 

“The audience for NRL is quite a huge and diverse profile,” he said. “Being a broadcaster by definition, we want to reach as many homes and demographics as possible. 

“One of the big things for us this year is that, as your team is making its run toward the finals, we will have football on Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon – it will be a huge season for us.”