Why the Australian Open is so valuable to Channel Nine

Australian Open

• Plus what value propositions are coming from the rest of Nine’s WWOS

Australian Open

Nine is once again using the Australian Open as a springboard into its new slate of content for the year. And the early results have indicated that the broadcast has once again been successful with Nine boasting the #1 primary channel and network shares for each day that the event has run.

Mediaweek caught up with Nine’s head of content partnerships for sport, Anne Gruber, about the value that the Australian Open brings to Nine and its commercial partners.

“It’s a great event to start off the year,” said Gruber. “We’ve got amazing brands on board, many of them are returning year on year. It’s just something that is a great launchpad for 2022. This year we’re still in the middle of an outbreak but we’ve got fans back on-ground and that’s exactly what this event is all about globally. Showcasing that to the world and to Australians around the country is really exciting.”

Anne Gruber

Earlier this week, Nine unveiled the major partners and sponsors for the 2022 Australian Open broadcast, with Kia, Samsung, Uber Eats, ANZ, Visit Victoria, APT, AAMI, Chemist Warehouse, Peters, and Stan all joining in Nine’s Summer of Tennis.

This year has also seen Bondi Sands, Ralph Lauren, Chubb Insurance and Safety Culture take up Nine’s AO Extender packages.

“It’s great that more and more of our partners across the tennis really work closely with us to draw on all of the different platforms that we have at Nine to tell those stories. Looking at ways to blur the line between the real forecasts and what’s happening and things like augmented reality.”

When asked for an example of this type of integration Gruber pointed to the Kia Arena campaign that the broadcaster has put together with Tennis Australia to help launch Kia’s new car.

“There’s a brand new arena this year called the Kia Arena. We’re creating some augmented reality in the broadcast that links the car Kia launching and the on-ground arena to really bring that to people at home in a six-level way.”

Australian Open

Having all four Grand Slams

At Nine’s 2022 Upfront last year it announced that it had completed its collection of all four tennis Grand Slams after adding the US open to the Wide World of Sport stable. Gruber said that this was an important acquisition because it helped shape the tennis offering of Nine into a 12 months of the year proposition.

“We’re thrilled to be working with the different Grand Slams because tennis is something for us as a network that’s really important in terms of audience splits and demographics. Being able to showcase that not just at the start of the year but to do that throughout the year is great for us and it also means the talent that we have across tennis, they’re on for the whole year.”

When asked if it is important to collect a whole sport as they have with the tennis Grand Slams, Gruber said that it really depends on what the sport is before making that decision.

“They’re all consumed and followed so differently, when we look at how we cover any of our sports across the network, we look at the different types of consumption of fans. Broadly speaking, there are three types of consumers. You’ve got your fanatic. You’ve got your broader fans that consume the sport but don’t overly swing to either side and then you’ve got your followers. So what we try to do is have different outlets, platforms and storytelling to cover all of those. But it is important to be able to tell those stories across the different mediums.”

What else is on the Wide World of Sport

Gruber said that while the Australian Open is the current talk of the town, Nine is equally just as excited about the sport offering that it has for the rest of the year which includes the NRL and rugby.

“Last year was the first year of our partnership with Rugby Australia which was something new to all of us as a network. We had to build the coverage and work with new partner brands. We’ve now got a year under our belt and here’s a whole new competition, launching in a month, the Super Rugby Pacific. So that’s really exciting for the sport. And really exciting from a viewers and fans perspective.

“With the NRL, outside of the men’s premiership, they’ll actually be two women’s premierships, because, unfortunately, last year with Covid, it had to be postponed. So women’s sport is something we’re really focused on covering as part of our sporting commitments this year.

“And of course, Origin is back. We are in our second year of a competition we run called State of Originality which encourages marketers to think a little bit differently around their creativity, so we’re pumped about that. It was a lot of fun last year.”

When asked about the value proposition of Nine’s Wide World of Sports, Gruber said that the key is offering their partner brands access to the large network that Nine has at its disposal. 

“The last couple of years we’ve really tried to work on the fact that when it comes to sport that we pass on to our partner brands not just TV and digital, but also our radio platforms, publishing brands and social content, and have it be a 360 days a year proposition from a sports marketing perspective. Rather than looking at when the sport is actually being played, and on-air, it’s to be able to continuously tell those stories and also leverage the rights that we have across sporting codes that we don’t broadcast like horse racing or Formula One. It’s really all of the sports, not just the traditional NRL, tennis, and rugby that we broadcast on TV.

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