Nine’s world class ambitions for 9Now

New AVOD service 9Now offers consumers high quality live simulcast feeds and catch-up viewing

• New AVOD service 9Now offers consumers high quality live simulcast feeds and catch-up viewing

Once Nine dissolved its partnership with Microsoft and brought NineMSN services in-house, all eyes have been on the broadcaster to see what its next step in online video delivery would be. Nine has now junked its previous advertising-supported video on demand (AVOD) service Jumpin, replacing it this week with the new 9Now platform.

The new 9Now platform will deliver live streaming simulcasts of its broadcast channels Nine, GO!, Gem and 9Life, as well as catch-up content of broadcasted shows, unlike Seven, which recently rolled out live simulcasts of its linear channels on the day of launch of the revamped 7Plus. On day one of 9Now, however, only the Nine primary channel is available with the others coming soon.

Alex Parsons, Nine’s chief digital officer, revealed that this was a matter of ensuring that they had the technology right to ensure a quality viewing experience. In the coming weeks, the other three simulcast channels will be available on 9Now.

“We just wanted to bed down the first one and get that amazing HD-type experience,” Parsons said. “If you do a comparison across the internet, you’ll see it’s actually a pretty good experience. Now we’ll launch that on the other three.”

The quality of the video stream is a high priority for Parsons as he looks to leading platforms. He suggested that he doesn’t look to his direct FTA broadcast competition, but instead looks at the quality of the video streams offered by Netflix and Nine’s own SVOD service Stan. “They’re delivering, and their consumers are expecting, HD-quality TV through all of the devices. And that’s really where we want to get to as well. So, we had to gnash our teeth to get Nine out there first.

Parsons and his team are very happy with the first iteration of 9Now, a platform purpose-built to deliver video. Its predecessor, Jumpin, was built as a second-screen experiential app designed to allow viewers to “check-in” to the shows that they were watching and engage with other viewers of the same program. Its AVOD content was then retrofitted onto the platform.

Just under a year ago, Parsons met with the team at Nine to determine what the future of Nine looked like alongside evolving consumer video consumption patterns. It was determined that they needed a single-destination, multi-platform service that was device agnostic and created a unity between Nine’s linear broadcast services and AVOD content.

To Parson’s mind, such a destination for Nine would need to look and feel like a world class product: “World class is one of those things that, if I were to mention certain brands to you, you would think ‘world class’ or ‘not world class’ quite quickly. I’ll use one of our brands and throw that under the bus: Jumpin, possibly ‘not world class’. Stan or Netflix, I think they’re both ‘world class’. eBay was clearly ‘world class’. Trading Post, clearly ‘not world class’.”

The development of 9Now came with the full support and input of Nine’s executive team. Parsons explained that the launch of Stan proved internally that they have the potential to build what the team saw as an amazing product. “We developed the vision. We developed the strategy. And together we all ran in the same direction, which was, for me, really exciting and motivating,” Parsons said.

The roll-out of the 9Now app is a priority now for Parsons and his team. Last week existing users of Jumpin received an app update which transitioned them to the new 9Now app. It is now available on Android and Apple’s iOS devices, along with HbbTV. In the coming months it will be available on Telstra TV, Apple TV, Sony, Samsung, LG, Playstation, Xbox, and Fetch TV. Parsons said that the roll-out will occur within a matter of weeks and months.

The first time that users visit 9Now, they will be required to set up an account with My9 in order to view content. Requiring a sign-up is not something that Parsons views as an impediment to getting users to access the service: “95% of Australians have a Facebook account. We’re offering Facebook sign-up. You’ve got to pop your login for just about everything you do today. We’re not asking for any payments or anything like that.

“Ultimately, what we want to do is better understand consumers’ behaviours and deliver a better experience for them. There are things that consumers expect these days. Resume play is one. We want to create an ID so that we can offer you a similar experience across different devices at different times.” 

A site login also enables Nine to better target viewers for advertising, but Parsons is adamant that they sought only the most basic of information from users with the initial sign-up. While Nine may later seek additional information, Parsons believes that it can only do so if there is a perceived benefit by the viewer: “Perhaps if we were to ask you for another five bits of information, we would deliver you, for example, 20% less advertising in the stream. That’s something I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about how do we look at value, how do we have a meaningful value exchange with consumers. The consumers’ understanding of that value exchange has increased massively. We will go back and ask more information, but at the same time we need to deliver more value back to the consumer for that information.”

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