TV survey 2021: Nine still the one? Depends on what you measure

Michael Stephenson Olympic Games

Michael Stephenson: ‘A consistency of schedule over the past five years entirely focused on delivery of demographics’

As FTA commercial TV networks sell their 2021 ratings performance this week there are plenty of claims and counterclaims.

The battle for the biggest revenue share is between Nine and Seven.

Nine is claiming to be “still the one” with leadership in the key demos across the year.

Seven is claiming a return to leadership with all people.

Both broadcasters have stats about the year with and without the Tokyo Olympics included, although there is some dispute over just which days are excluded.

Mediaweek spoke with Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson to get his side of the TV ratings story.

Nine 2021

The Block 2021: Total TV audience 1,678,000

“At Nine we have got a really clear strategy – we create great content and we distribute it across every platform to engage audiences and advertisers. By having such a clear plan we have a consistency of schedule over the past five or so years that is entirely focused on delivery of demographics.

Demographics are what advertisers want

“That is important because demographics are what advertisers care about. It’s how they buy their media schedules. As a result of our unrelenting focus we are once again the leader and the #1 network against 25-54, 16-39 and shoppers with children.

“We have a consistency all the way from January through to December that allows us to deliver that. I expect exactly the same thing will occur in 2022.”

Advertising outlook

Stephenson, unlike his TV competitors, also sells advertising across radio and print and digital news properties. He is predicting strong ad demand will continue into 2022 across all those platforms.

We are in the early stages of the roaring twenties. History will repeat itself.” To reinforce the point, he added: “2022 will be a massive year. Brands are returning to big brand campaigns and the emergence of Total Television and Total Audio are key themes that are really getting serious traction. The acceleration towards a more digital future is very important for Nine. We have an economy that is very strong, many people have money in their pockets and they are ready to spend.”

Nine 2021

Married at First Sight 2021: Total TV audience 2,110,000

Buying Total TV

“There is a growing recognition that the future of television is Total Television. To maximise reach you must buy a combination of live linear, live streaming and on demand. That message has well and truly landed with marketers.

“If we recognise that is the future, how do people plan and ultimately buy those audiences? The first step in that journey is the launch of the VOZ data base as a planning tool. That is now in the agencies and they are able to see the optimum mix of investment across all three platforms to deliver that reach.

“The next stage is when VOZ ultimately becomes a currency. Buyers then need the technology that allows them to buy those audiences which is why we built Nine Galaxy. People can do that with us today. It won’t happen overnight, but it is increasingly happening more often.”

Stephenson said the development of Total Audio could move more quickly because of a “second mover advantage”.

Nine’s 2022 schedule

“We have an amazing spine of proven performers from the Australian Open through Married at First Sight, Lego, Ninja, Celebrity Apprentice, Beauty and the Geek to The Block and Love Island.

“We have added to that with Parental Guidance which was strong in the demos with wholesome full family viewing. The content team will build and tweak on what we saw in season one.”

Nine doesn’t have a lot of new content because it doesn’t need to.

“We also have Snack Masters soon which will be good for brands and good for audiences across all platforms. Every year you will see a couple more as these new formats become franchises in their own right.”

When looking at Parental Guidance in key demos, Stephenson called it “ridiculously successful”. Love Island is a show that may not exist in the old TV world. “If you look at Love Island just on the live linear audience, you would say it’s not successful. When you look at the purity of demo – 16-39 – it is getting to around 800,000 an episode across all platforms. That audience is super valuable because they are hard to reach.

Nine 2021

Lego Masters 2021: Total TV audience 1,661,000

BVOD battle

Is Seven now the on demand champion? “I don’t know what metric they would be looking at [to claim that]. When you look at live streaming minutes we are the undisputed leader, excluding the Olympic Games. When they are excluded 9Now has about a 48% share of all streaming minutes against 7plus and 10 Play.”

Nine in 2021

Michael Healy, Nine’s director of television:

“I couldn’t be prouder of the achievements of the Nine team in delivering a slate that has reaffirmed our leadership position across both linear and digital. Once again, our shows have dominated the key demographics as well as the national conversation throughout the year. Channel 9 is also the number one channel in Total People (ex. Olympics). We’re extremely proud of our shows and have worked with our production partners to deliver content that has engaged, informed and entertained us throughout another challenging year.”

Nine claims the biggest shows in Australia

No.1 new reality television series – Beauty and the Geek

No.2 new reality television series – Celebrity Apprentice Australia

No.1 reality television special – Married at First Sight -Grand Reunion

No.2 reality television series – Married at First Sight

No. 2 regular non-sports series – Married at First Sight

No.3 reality television series – The Block

No.1 light entertainment series – Lego Masters

No.3 light entertainment series – Travel Guides

No.2 new light entertainment series – Parental Guidance

No.1 health & medical documentary series – Paramedics

No.1 current affairs program – A Current Affair

No.1 weekly commercial free-to-air current affairs program – 60 Minutes

No.2 regular sports event – NRL Grand Final

No.3-5 regular sports event – State of Origin I, II, III

No.1 summer sports event – Australian Open Men’s Final

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