Hugh Marks has had a rollercoaster ride since taking the helm of Nine Entertainment Company 18 months ago. At a pivotal time for media owners in Australia, he explains how he led a programming revival and what the future media owner-advertiser relationship looks like.
Five months into his new role, Nine CEO Hugh Marks could have been forgiven for wondering what he had gotten himself into. The network was being trounced by its arch rival Seven, culminating in the embarrassing situation in which Seven’s juggernaut My Kitchen Rules offered its winning contestants more prize money ($250,000) in its finale than Nine’s reality flop Reno Rumble could attract viewers (249,000) to its showstopper.
One of the country’s most respected ‘content guys’ already had a major task on his hands without the ratings false start. Taking the helm from Nine legend David Gyngell, Marks was charged with revitalising the network and transforming the business for a fragmented, digital age where audiences and advertising budgets were slowly leaving traditional media channels.
“That first 12 months was really tough, there were many challenges,” Marks recalled. “Programming had staffing issues, there was no CFO for six months, legal disputes with channel Seven [over claims about Today and Sunrise], disputes getting out of the Warner Brothers contract. There was a whole bunch of things that we just had to get done to basically put the business in a position where we could move forward.”
“We need to innovate in how we work with advertisers so it becomes more of a business relationship that will dominate the future.”
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