Nine urges viewers to change back

By AdNews | 12 December 2008

SYDNEY: Channel Nine yesterday launched an advertising assault asking viewers to "Change Back" in 2009.

According to Nine spokesperson David Hurley, the message behind the new slogan is a reminder to people that “what we do, we do well”.

Nine’s traditional strength in news and current affairs suffered in the face of increased competition from the new "number one" network, Seven, in recent years. Seven’s dominance of those crucial timeslots allowed Kerry stokes' network to gain a firm hold in the ratings race, taking out the crown in both 2007 and 2008.

Although denying Nine's new slogan is an acknowledgment to the many viewers that made the switch to rival Seven, Hurley said: “We know we have lost some people, and we’re just telling them to come back and have a look.”

Hurley added: “We know our core audience is still there; it’s just those in the margin that have drifted away.”

After a tough couple of years of falling viewer figures and diminishing revenue, Nine now has a consolidated focus on bringing people back to the network. “Everyone knows the history. The campaign is merely a reminder that what we do, we do well,” Hurley said.

When David Gyngell returned to the CEO post at Nine in November 2007, he was charged with two briefs: to get Nine back in the game and to refocus resources in news and current affairs.

This renewed focus on news and current affairs can be seen with the planned launch of Today on Sunday in February, which will be hosted by Leila McKinnon and Cameron Williams and will be in direct competition with Seven’s Weekend Sunrise, which has been dominating weekend viewing.

Today on Sunday will resemble the weekday Today show format with a slightly lighter approach, and is part on Nine’s assault to dent Seven’s dominance of news and current affairs.

Hurley said Today on Sunday is a good example of the network's desired direction in 2009. "It's a matter of building resources and bringing together the best people, focusing on news and current affairs, with a consolidated efffort to bring people back," he said.

In 2008, ratings for Seven's Sydney news were up 8% while Nine's was down 12% on the previous year, with Melbourne remaining Nine’s most competitive market in weeknight news.

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