Nine Upfront 2023: Mike Sneesby and team tell advertisers, “You belong here”


Andy Lee to host A Current Affair in 2023!? First 2023 Upfront sets the bar high

Nine is again the first of the major Australian TV broadcasters to hold its 2023 Upfront. It is also the first time a major gathering was held in person and there wasn’t a mask in sight.

The company welcomed 700+ agency partners production partners and media into the Luna Park Big Top for the slick 75-minute 2023 preview. There was also a significant audience watching online across Australia plus interested partners internationally.

It was perhaps a softer sell than the last couple of times Nine hosted live events, and it was the first Upfront where chief executive Mike Sneesby got to interact with the market en masse.

And get this…the event started on time. After threatening it would be a 4pm sharp kick-off, crowds started forming in the Luna Park forecourt at 3pm and a Welcome to Country started proceedings at 4pm.

Mike Sneesby was the first person from the conglomerate onstage revealing the theme for the day – “Australia belongs here”. Then pointedly looking across the sea of media buyers and advertisers, “You belong here”.

The Upfront showcased not just the still important linear TV business, but a revamped 9Now, Nine Publishing, Nine Audio (radio and podcasting). Even Stan made the podium with its promise of 20+ Stan Originals in the new year, most of them filmed in Australia.

Sneesby’s backdrop was an array of five impressive video walls which made anything thrown up on it look good. Especially impressive were the hi-res image of Australia, and the sparkling eyes of Shane Warne.

Nine Upfront

Andy Lee & Hamish Blake

Andy Lee and Brooke Boney were the event hosts and they made the first of several forays onstage. Lee joked it was an audition for the next host of A Current Affair. Boney would seem more of a fit for the format, but Lee was certainly keener on the career change than his co-host.

Most of the information drops across the 75 minutes were interspersed with reels featuring past highlights and future programming.

Nine Upfront

Liana Dubois

Nine’s chief marketing officer Liana Dubois, and the key exec responsible for the Upfront, was next and expanded on the theme of the day – “You’re not just welcome here…you belong here.”

Nine’s head of content, production and development, Adrian Swift, proudly introduced some of the new talent and highlights from recent performers. Included was stats about impressive audience growth at The Block.

Nine’s Tory Maguire, James Chessell, Adrian Swift and Caroline Spencer

Swift also explained Love Island would now premiere on 9Now with a screening later on a linear broadcast channel. He interviewed Love Island host Sophie Monk from the Love Island villa in Spain.

The next reel featured the return of Gordon Ramsay to Nine and the new Kate Langbroek-hosted My Mum, Your Dad.

Nine Publishing then got some important minutes during the presentation with overdue acknowledgement that the digital replica of the print product is going gangbusters. Advertisers can now place dynamic inserts in it too. Nine Publishing was spruiked by Matt Drummond and Tory Maguire, while helping sell the charms of Nine News were Nick McKenzie and Sarah Abo.

Nine Radio’s Sofie Formica & Ben Fordham

Nine’s audio strategy was detailed next from radio to podcasting. Helping explain the innovation coming were 3AW breakfast co-host Russel Howcroft and 4BC afternoon host Sofie Formica. The company is launching it’s own traffic network, NTN, which will offer impressive branding opportunities. A very animated Howcroft reminded the audience of 10m live audio streams monthly and the audio audience of 2m listeners a week.

An upfront wouldn’t be complete without the appearance of Richard Wilkins and the entertainment guru was live from the After Party across the harbour detailing what was ahead for guests. A Captain Cook ferry navigated the narrow strip of water.

Michael Stephenson

Finishing off the event was Nine chief sales offer Michael Stephenson who referred to his branding of the decade 12 months ago as the “roaring 20s”. His prediction proved to be accurate, and he told the crowd, “There’s never been a better time to be a marketer”. He also explained, “Choosing your main media partner has never been more important.”

That should be Nine of course he implied, backing it up with stats including: #1 in every major TV buying demo and #1 radio overall plus 11m site visits to Nine properties weekly.

The event finished with a stunning performance of Iva DaviesGreat Southern Land. The Icehouse author of the song gave Nine permission to perform the tune at the Upfront after learning it would be performed by Mitch Tambo and Regan Derry.

Deb Knight, Liz Hayes & Sarah Abo

Nine’s Upfront Afterparty

When the first boatload of 400+ guests docked on the edge of Circular Quay they were greeted by a ferris wheel and stage set-up outside what was branded the House of Nine.

The entertainment featured DJs Lauren Mac and Tigerlily with the headline act Peking Duk.

Three floors of the House of Nine were set up as Big Ideas Store, Newsroom, Good Food Lounge, The Club, Entertainment Alley, Code, Sports Bar and a Lego T-shirt bar.

Nine talent and executives worked the three floors. Talking to guests were sports stars and hosts including James Bracey, Jonathan Thurston, Andrew Johns, Adam Reynolds. Other talent included Hamish Blake and Andy Lee with manager Mark Klemens, Neale Whitaker, Shaynna Blaze, Shelley Craft, Darren Palmer, Keith and Dan from The Block.

Nine’s Danika Mason, Tom Malone, Roz Switzer, James Bracey, Allana Ferguson & Jacqueline Felgate

Nine News boss Darren Wick accompanied a team from Nine News. While Amelia Adams revealed earlier in the evening in a live cross from outside Buckingham Palace that Nine had close to 100 people covering the change of monarch, those still working from Sydney included Liz Hayes, Tom Steinford, Sylvia Jeffreys, Jayne Azzopardi, David Campbell, Deborah Knight and Peter Overton.

The Block’s Darren Palmer, Shelley Craft, Shaynna Blaze & Neale Whitaker

Nine’s Upfront team

The buck stops with Nine’s chief marketing officer Liana Dubois when it comes to the Upfront presentation. She works closely with Nine’s director of television Michael Healy on the concept and show format. Each of the different divisions delivers its own reels.

Director of Television, Michael Healy

Helping polish the final product were Nine’s promotions creative director Chris McKinley, director of trade marketing Jamie Gilbert-Smith and creative director programs and production Andrew Peace.

Nine’s productions partners

From giant multinationals to boutique suppliers, Nine welcomed its program makers to the Upfront event.

From the former group was Endemol Shine Australia CEO Peter Newman and his ESA colleagues Elliot Spencer, Marty Benson, Amelia Fisk, Tara McWilliams, Bronwen Hodgson, Scott Howard and Sara Richardson. Soon to become a major program supplier is Helium which was represented by founder Mark Fennessy and chief executive officer Therese Hegarty. Also in attendance was CJZ group chief executive Matt Campbell.

Former Nine exec turned program maker John McAvoy was on hand with colleague Simon Steel ahead of the return of the McAvoy Media-produced RPA and the ongoing Taronga Who’s Who in the Zoo.

Another trusted partner continuing its long-term relationship with Nine is The Full Box. The co-founders Bryan Cockerill and Gerri Coy were also guests last night, taking a break from work on their two series for 2023 – Million Dollar Murders and Australian Crime Stories.

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