Nine.com.au’s Head of Lifestyle, Helen McCabe, has explained that the company’s decision to move into the podcasting arena is driven by a desire to own the conversation around its content and programming across the full day.
“Podcasting allows us to own our own content, or the conversation around that content, the whole way around,” said McCabe. “The question for us was why let other media outlets bounce off our content?
“We should be better at it, we are better at it, and this will go a long way to proving that we can do just that.”
Earlier this week Nine unveiled a strategy aimed at building new revenues in the audio realm through the launch of a series of podcasts that initially includes relationship podcast Sweet Spot, NRL podcast Six Tackles with Gus and a news podcast, The Way It Is.
“For the Nine Network it is about having the conversation for the whole 24 hours,” said McCabe. “You watch Married at First Sight and it finishes at 9 o’clock and you go to 9Honey to read a recap or exclusive story, and then you can download the podcast, if you really want to unpick the issues that were present in the dinner party or the commitment ceremony.”
Nine intends to expand its podcasting offering over the course of 2017 across many of its key verticals, leveraging well-known brands like Nine News and Wide World of Sports to build audience for podcasting.
“Our commercial goal has been to expand and leverage our content expertise into new areas for the business,” Amanda Laing, Managing Director of Nine, said. “We see the clear potential for Nine to provide our audiences with additional reasons and opportunities to engage with us for longer, and in more meaningful ways. That has been at the heart of our podcasting strategy.”McCabe said that while podcasting was still in its relative infancy in terms of commercialisation in Australia, it was increasingly developing a broader audience.
“The podcast audience at this stage might be early adopters, but I’m confident that eventually it will be the people who watch our TV shows,” said McCabe. “At Nine it’s not a big stretch for us because we have the talent and the storylines, so why not have a shot at it?
“The audience is middle Australia. It’s the mums who are really busy and haven’t had a chance to catch up on the news, but want to listen to a podcast about Married at First Sight, which they saw on the TV last night.
“They don’t want all the ads that you might get in commercial radio, etcetera. They are looking for different ideas and personalities and they are looking for something that is a bit informal, fun and informative.”
McCabe noted that Nine was already seeing strong results for Sweet Spot, which was launched off the back of the hit show Married at First Sight but will now run over the course of the year.
“Sweet Spot is hosted by Katharine Feeney, a podcast that, at the moment, is all about Married at First Sight. But essentially it is about love, sex and relationships,” said McCabe.
“It’s a lot of fun and it has bounced off Married at First Sight, but it will probably grow into other things like Nine’s upcoming TV show Last Resort and anything else that centres on love, sex and relationships issues.”
On the question of commercialisation of podcasting, McCabe noted that it was still early days for Nine in this space and that while Nine’s focus was on building audiences it was open to conversations around sponsorship.
“I think if we get the storyline right then the clients will come with us on the journey,” she said. “For our early-adopter clients who want to be in this space we now have a suite of options to get involved.
“I think the reason we got into podcasting is that we can give our clients another option to be involved in the 24-hour cycle. We have TV, digital, and now you can also do podcasting.”
McCabe said she was particularly excited about Nine’s new news podcast, The Way It Is, which is hosted by veteran journalists Neil Breen and Leila McKinnon.
“Leila McKinnon and Neil Breen are lifelong friends and The Way It Is it works because there is such enormous rapport between them. I think they shared a house together when they were both at uni.
“Breeny has a photographic memory and is a great storyteller. Leila is hilarious and interested in all sorts of things, and between them you have this incredible rapport as they go through the stories of the week.
“This is a podcast that I think will build quite quickly around news junkies who want a fun but informative style of hearing the news.”
Breen said he was excited about the podcast because it a natural fit for the pair.
“Leila and I have known each other for a quarter of a century, so it’s just natural that we would work together and do a news podcast,” Breen said.
“I read more about news but she is smarter than I am. So it’s a good pairing.”
“The podcast is called The Way It Is because it has been a bit of a catch phrase for Nine over the years and says it all,” said McKinnon. “We just want to say it the way it is. We want to bring some fresh, fun facts to the news of the week. We are both big news junkies.”
The hosts of The Way It Is podcast believe Nine’s move into podcasting is a natural fit for the TV network and digital publisher.
“Nine is a multimedia company,” Breen said, “it’s not just a television station. It has websites, it will do podcasts, and that is just the way of the world for modern media.
“We have all the resources at our fingertips,” added McKinnon. “This is a new format and a new way to present it. The challenge will be to get us to stick to just 25 minutes per podcast.”