Nine 2019 Upfront: 'The sport piece is brilliant' after biggest shakeup in sports rights in 40 years, says top media buyer

Nine has managed to surprise the market in its plans for sport in 2020 after the biggest shake-up in sports rights in 40 years, according to one of Australia’s top media buyers.

Earlier this year Nine secured the exclusive rights to all premium tennis played in Australia for five years, from 2020 to 2024, and then later bought the rights for the Australian Open in 2019.

“The guys did a really great job talking about the depth of sport. There’s a lot of talk in market that ‘they’ve lost credibility, the summer’s going to be tough going’, but the continuity and depth of sport was a story really well told,” Mark Coad, CEO of PHD, said.

Nine will launch its 2019 program slate with the Australian Open, featuring an outstanding lineup of tennis commentators and experts including John McEnroe, Jim Courier and Lleyton Hewitt.

Nine will also be the home of the NRL for 2019, with every game available to Nine accessible on 9Now, while again presenting the rivalry between the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons in State of Origin.

Nine is home to the biggest cricket matches in 2019 as well, bringing viewers The Ashes series from England, with former Australian captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner eligible for test match selection once more. Nine also brings golf, basketball and netball into Australian homes.

Speaking after the Nine 2019 Upfront event last week at Fox Studios, Coad said he also “really liked the depth of Australian drama”.

“There is some really great content, and some real tent poles holding it together, like The Block, Australian Ninja Warrior and Love Island. Beyond that there’s a great deal of depth, and the sport piece is brilliant.”

From a media buyer’s perspective, Coad said the news that stood out to him was Nine’s focus on people-based marketing. “Using the data and 7 million user IDs, that’s exciting stuff, that’s a big deal.”

Coad was referring to Nine’s BVOD platform 9Now, which has a monthly audience of more than 2.2 million users and is building on its database of more than 7 million declared users.

Also important for Coad was Nine’s emphasis on consistency in both performance and content.

“In media buying we’re dealing in futures, we’re laying schedules down for clients in anticipation of how they’re going to deliver in terms of audiences. Reach and consistency is everything in our game, and being able to predict that with reliability is huge,” he explained.

Coad was also pleased to see Nine shifting from a TV broadcast focus to a broader-content business future.

“It’s really exciting that companies like Nine are leading the way in moving from a TV broadcast business to a content business and not talking about TV shows – they’re talking about content distributed over multiple platforms, and that’s where the audiences are,” he said.

“Look at a teenager, anyone in their twenties. They’re not sitting down watching appointment viewing like we used to. To be able to watch programs where you want, when you want and on whatever platform you want, that’s where we’re heading and that is really refreshing.”