Nine sales chief’s outlook: ‘Next year we will be even stronger’


• Michael Stephenson reveals tips for 2021 and what advertisers want

Nine sales chief Michael Stephenson has one TV focus – winning the key demos, something the network delivered on for advertisers in 2020.

If you are an advertiser it is really important, whoever your partner is, delivers consistency of audience across 52 weeks,” Stephenson told Mediaweek. “That’s what we have done again this year for the fifth year in a row.

“We are #1 16-39, #1 25-54 and #1 grocery shoppers with children. Whether you measure our primary channel or our network of channels. We also have the leading BVOD platform. The movement towards a total television ecosystem is really important for advertisers.

Next year we will be even stronger with over 50 hours of new Australian content coming into the primetime schedule to deliver our consistency for advertisers from January all the way through to December.

“We have an obsession about the demographics because that is what advertisers care about. That has been our focus for a number of years.”

2021 potential: Can Nine keep winning?

Stephenson thinks so: “Consumer behaviour is changing the way we consume content. Next year will be a defining year because the way we look at this will be different. We will be looking at this as a combination of live linear television, live streaming and on demand and what that means for total content consumption.

“We are at a tipping point which I am so excited about. In the current quarter we are seeing the market bounce back far quicker than anyone could have expected. I don’t see that changing for 2021 either. The market is recovering, the economy is recovering – we are seeing really good signs about the future.”

Premium for winning all people

Seven used to claim a premium for winning all people, Stephenson challenges that boast.

People only care about the demographics and they always have. Focusing on total people is not something we think about. (Although this year we did win that as well.) The premium you deliver against your audience will be based on your ability to deliver big ideas for brands, an investment into sport and creating more value for advertisers. That’s what we have done any why we continue to get the halo effect if you like.

Timing of Australian Open in 2021

“We have more than 50 hours of new Australian content in 2021 – Celebrity Apprentice, Beauty and the Geek, Parent Duty, Love Island Australia, Amazing Grace – that gives us options [if things move around].

We are working closely with Tennis Australia and the Victorian Government to finalise the start date of the Australian Open. Craig Tiley from Tennis Australia will help us navigate through this. We are well progressed in conversations with ad partners and sponsors for the Australian Open and the tennis and Married at First Sight will be the two events that kick off the year.”

Michael Stephenson’s hot pick for 2021

“The thing that marketers get excited about is consistency in delivery,” was the sales chief’s main message.

Stephenson’s pick for a big noisy new Nine show next year – Parent Jury. “When you see it come to life, brands will flock to it. We also have in the schedule Celebrity Apprentice which we have just filmed, and it looks amazing.”

Olympics: Not a problem

Stephenson: “I haven’t heard whether the Olympics are happening or not. We are obsessed by 52 weeks a year, not two. As we have done in the past we will continue to program right through [an Olympic period if it happens] and continue to deliver for advertisers.”

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