Nine not 'feeling the pressure' with new tennis offering

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 10 August 2018

Nine director of sales in sport Matt Granger says the company isn't feeling the pressure of a new sporting code, as it looks to begin generating clients for the upcoming summer of Tennis and prepare for its first year without cricket as the main sport on its schedule.

Speaking to AdNews at the Australian Open launch last night in Melbourne, Granger says this is the earliest Nine has ever gone to market with its sports offering, as it looks to move away from its previous strategy with cricket and into an integration-based proposition with tennis.

"They are two different propositions and they are certainly more focus around how we can activate through January, not just for 14 days or the finals week, but the whole of January," he says.

"We are talking to both our existing advertiser base and an entirely new customers base, which for us is what we are most excited about."

As part of the launch, Nine announced it would be creating a new cross-platform strategy, focused more on integration through its entertainment and sports assets, including Today, 9Honey and the Wide World of Sports.

Granger says this clear and complete offering is far different from what the other networks, Foxtel and Seven, will be doing when it comes to the cricket, adding that new line-up of assets is the "connection point" it needed to "excite" clients.

"Tennis is a very different proposition because it’s exclusively and 100% on Nine, whereas you’ve got a scenario where cricket is mixed and split by Fox and Seven," he says.

"This means we can provide a solution that is not muddled and is a simpler opportunity; that can become something bigger by developing further integration, not just with the game but as we like to think of it, 'a festival' as a whole."

Over the summer of tennis, Nine is pursuing a multi-platform strategy using Channel Nine, its multi-channels and 9Now to ensure Australians get a 'total TV experience'.

Granger says that while there is crossover in client interest, particularly in the categories of auto, FMCG and finance, the new tennis deal will yield an influx of new clients for Nine.

"We are talking to both our existing advertiser base and an entirely new customers base, which for us is what we are most excited about," he says.

"They’re excited by the timing, so I don’t think the pressure is there at all and you’ve got to remember, this is a fresh and new opportunity not just for Nine, but clients and Tennis Australia."

Despite summer sport on Nine being shortened by two months, with cricket now on Seven and Foxtel, except for select international games which remain with Nine, Granger is confident sales won't drop off, but he adds a new approach will be needed.

"We now have to look at 2019 in a whole new way. That doesn’t mean it's any more difficult, it just means we need to create different offerings for that January period," he says.

"It doesn’t affect our flow in any way as a team or our approach to how we will take the NRL and other assets to clients, this just amplifies the conversations we have with them for another part of the year, being the next three months."

Earlier this year, Seven and Tennis Australia agreed to a new, $48.5 million deal with Nine, which saw Nine move its original deal forward by a year to broadcast the 2019 Australian Open.

Nine originally secured rights to the annual tennis tournament for broadcast, streaming, mobile, digital and social platforms for 2020 to 2024 in at a cost of $300 million, but the networks had been in negotiations over the rights for the remaining 2019 summer of tennis, with Seven originally wanting Nine to cough up $60 million for the season.

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