Nine confident revamped Married At First Sight can be runaway success

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 30 January 2017
Nine's Married At First Sight

Nine’s fourth season of Married at First Sight, which launches tonight, is bigger and bolder than ever before, with a higher production quality, an engaging cast and an expanded format that has already delivered more brand interest than previous years.

Nine’s chief sales officer Michael Stephenson tells AdNews that while he doesn’t expect it to necessarily topple Seven’s My Kitchen Rules (MKR), Nine is confident it will deliver far more eyeballs across key demos than last year’s slow burning flops, Australia’s Got Talent and The Farmer Wants a Wife.

“Getting off to good start in the year from a ratings perspective is very important. What we’ve done with Married At First Sight is chosen a show that we think is going to be demographically very pure. Over 60% of its past audience is 25 to 54-year-olds. That is at the heart of who we are as a network,” Stephenson says.

“We’re focused on growing that demographic in the first quarter and I’m confident we will do that.”

It’s up against MKR and Ten’s I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here, both premium properties and tough rivals in the primetime 7.30pm slot.

Nine kicked-off with Married at First Sight on they believe the fourth season of this “social experiment” is easily the strongest so far and will have enough suspense, twists and drama to reinvigorate a format that has had a steady ratings decline in its first three seasons.

To drum up interest, the first episode was made available on Nine’s AVOD 9Now leading up to the season launch.

AdNews took a sneak peek and was impressed by improvements to production quality and beautiful storytelling that previous seasons have somewhat lacked.

Some of the characters are instantly likeable and sure to provide plenty of water cooler moments, such as firefighter Andrew – billed as the most eligible bachelor, ever.

Then there’s lonely mineworker Sean from rural Queensland who is ready to give his heart away, serial dater Jonathan, who’s appearance on the show will save him time in finding the right match and…erm… finely chiseled demigod Michael – the fussiest alpha male/stripper in the history of mankind, or so we are led to believe.

On team bride, there are "hot twins", an ex-beauty queen (although several could fit that description) and, we are led to believe, there will be a runaway bride.

Not all in-laws are happy, particularly an angry Scottish type, but it’s likely to have fewer wedding wrecking balls than Seven’s Bride and Prejudice, also launching tonight.

The show will also pull in more sponsorship revenue than previous seasons with four major partners – KFC, Suzuki, HotelsCombined and Lottoland.

“Some are deeply integrated, others are using it to leverage the purity of its audience – but all of them are using it to tell their stories in Australian content,” Stephenson says.

In terms of spot buying, he adds: “We’ve had incredible interest for all of our schedule in the first eight weeks. People are buying in the spot market those time slots because of what they believe will deliver in the demos. If you are looking for growth they are spots you should have in your schedule.”

While Married At First Sight is the headline act at the start of the year, Stephenson believes it will be strongly supported by House Husbands, Travel Guide, Lethal Weapon and David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II.

“There’s also a lot more to come. I believe Australian Ninja Warrior is going to be a breakout hit,” he adds. “I feel really, really good about The Voice, having Boy George and Kelly Rowland join Seal and Delta adds a completely different dimension to that show and brings in a different audience,” he adds.

“Doctor Doctor in its next series will go from strength to strength, House of Bond will be interesting an Hamish and Andy have got a very unique format, which delivers pure audiences in the demo.

“If we get a strong star, we’ll have a great year. We’ve got a lot of depth and all if it is local, Australian, brands can easily integrate into it and we have distribution rights across all platforms.”

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