Skip to main content
Industry Contributor 23 Sep 2020 - 4 min read

Nine Upfronts: slick and quick - tech and data a focus but constraints hover over content slate

By Claire Butterworth, Chief Investment Officer - MediaCom

And just like that the 2021 upfronts season commenced. Last Wednesday Nine kicked off proceedings with a market first, a virtual upfronts.

Key Points:

  • Slick and quick, the team covered a lot of ground including tech innovation with Adobe, streaming expansion with Nine Now, repositioning of Nine radio and a new superbrand with Money
  • Nine’s Adobe partnership shows a continued focus on Facebook and YouTube, and will aim to attract blue chip clients away from the competition’s video assets  
  • Programming for 2021 lacked depth however as the year progresses and COVID production timelines are reset, expect more announcements


Nine’s M&A strategy in recent years has resulted in a multi-platform offering which is centred around their innovation and commitment to investment in data, tech and content. There was a lot to get through, so lets break it down.

Data & Tech innovation

Strong innovation within data and tech is key to our clients and so Nine’s world first Adobe integration is a powerful step to integrate their significant data lake with the Adobe platform. Audience matching with Adobe gives Nine a unique position in market and importantly for them, aligns closely with blue chips who may be currently directing their video budgets to other large competitors. It’s a very interesting proposition from an Australian broadcaster, but there is a lot to understand further about exactly how it will play out.

Broadcast content & streaming

While there is a limit to how much Nine could cram into a 60-minute virtual presentation, they made a clear decision to focus on the tech and the data. Nine’s content slate for 2021 was a little light on – not only in how they showcased new content, but also the innovation of programming on display.

However, doubling down on their big tentpole programming is the right move with regular strong  performers the Block and MAFS back, but I do wonder whether the line up could become a little tired by the end of 2021 without an injection of new formats to keep things interesting.

It’s a downfall of the virtual format that it didn’t allow enough time to thoroughly understand the integration opportunities for brands within Nine’s broadcast content. The content was topline, and I think the missing piece was not having the talent to present each individual programme and create added excitement about the content slate.

When it comes to sport, NRL and Australian Open are the backbone of Nine’s sport calendar. Time will tell how COVID affects the AO, but NRL has delivered audience numbers they will be happy with. The challenge now is to continue the momentum in 2021.

News, a key pillar of any broadcaster, was weaved very nicely into all facets of Nine’s platform, demonstrating their strength in this genre. What came through well this year was the  ability to amplify across so many platforms is an attractive proposition for advertisers.


Nine Now’s extension to become a streaming service that lives across the entire product suite, is a promising development and broadening the proposition is a welcome move.


The introduction of super brand Money, to sit alongside Domain, Traveller, Good Food, CarAdvice, and Good Weekend and Sunday Life, is a smart move from Nine. This strategy has been successful over the past 12 months and creating true cross platform integration across a single vertical, Money will no doubt appeal to a wide audience and garner strong commercial interest.


It was great to see a much-needed repositioning of Nine radio. Moving well beyond the legacy of Alan Jones and co, it was refreshing to see new talent flood the network, particularly in key markets of Sydney and Melbourne. The framework is in place for growth although a strong marketing campaign will be required to deliver the audience shifts Nine is aiming for.

Extending data into radio to enable “addressable audio” in addition to being able buy audio through Galaxy is very interesting. Given Galaxy’s success in TV it is a welcome development in the radio market.


The creation of Powered Enterprise, a blue chip integration offering from Nine’s Powered team will aim to deliver longer and deeper partnerships with key clients beyond the spots and dots. No doubt many of Nine’s key clients will test this will success hindering on trust, budgets, the sharing of data and ideas and timelines to access in program product integration as early as possible.

Overall a job well done, in challenging circumstances. Nine have set the bar high and I’m interested to see how the upfronts 2021 season unfolds.

Share your reaction (and see how others voted)

Leave a comment (you must be logged in)

Be the first to comment

Claire Butterworth, Chief Investment Officer


Market Voice

Search Mi3 Articles

Make it personal

Join Mi3 to receive our weekly edition and personalise your experience