Nine's binge-worthy content boost sees engagement rocket

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 8 February 2018
Hamish Turner

Channel Nine's video on demand move, which saw it “significantly” invest in stockpiling its back-catalogue with shows that don't air on its core channels, has been a “phenomenal” success.

Speaking to AdNews, program director at Nine, Hamish Turner, says in order to boost its video-on-demand (VOD) watching over the traditionally quieter months, Nine made a major investment in content for its 9Now offering.

“We have consistency in linear through the year but we saw there was a real dip through summer in 2016-2017. As a result we discussed it and agreed we needed to have a content proposition across that period,” Turner says.

AdNews understands it spent millions on the new rights, but Nine was unable to confirm figures. As a result, 40-50% of its overall video on demand streaming over the last three months came from its new content stack.

Instead of largely relying on its free-to-air content playing in catch-up VOD, Nine bought 15 new titles – equating to 1000 hours of new content in the drama and reality realm. The move is much like the style of other SVOD players, whereby users have access to the reams of box-sets as and when they want.

Nine's penchant for reality TV could see it take a bite out of NBC Universal's all-reality subscription video-on-demand service platform Hayu, which launched in Australia in 2016 and has been steadily growing.

Nine's top performing shows on its VOD platform 9Now include the UK's Love Island, Four Weddings USA and other international shows such as The Bachelor, Dance Moms and Snog Marry Avoid – all are very Hayu's style.

Nine's 'summer love' content play

“Some of these shows hadn’t appeared on linear, but they had a relationship to shows that we saw working within an linear environment,” Turner says.

“That, together with a drama proposition, such as Doctor Doctor, and season stacking with shows like McLeod's Daughter, meant we saw huge numbers and huge return on investment.

“It's an indication of how we have shifted the dial in terms of how we think about 9Now as a content offering, but also looking at consumer behaviour and ensuring we had a consistent offering for a period (summer) that was lighter for us.”

Turner says the data shows there has been a “fundamental shift” in consumer habits over the last year alone. He says the sole reason the network commissioning Love Island Australia for broadcast on its main linear channel is due to the success it saw on 9Now.

“That commission, hand on heart, would not have happened if we did not have the experience we had with 9Now and Love Island UK,” Turner says.

General manager of video at Nine, Niamh Collins, says it's been a “phenomenal success,” and is interesting to see the substantially different change in behaviour once that type of content was provided - with people watching multiple episodes in the day and at weekends.

Will Nine's penchant for reality TV take a bite out of NBC Universal's all-reality SVOD player Hayu?

Turner says from a consumer behaviour perspective it has seen a clear shift from a linear catch-up habit to more of a binge habit.

“We got them in there [9Now] and engaged then with other content, and now they are engaging with that content and binging it.”

Collins credits the 9Now uplift to new content acquired and in addition, changes it has made to user experience. These include the personalised VOD carousel, refreshed homepage, a new live TV option, improved 'recommendations' to promote new shows and a 'play next episode' option in the works.

9Now has five million user IDs due to its enforced sign-in option it launched in 2016. This enables the network to dig into a wealth data on its users and see what makes them tick.

“We were pretty much the first BVOD platform to incorporate single sign on as part of the platform,” she says.

“We're at scale now and have just clocked over five million subscribers which is a phenomenal number.

“It's about giving people the content they love, but on their own terms.”

Channel Seven was first to market with a user sign-in option for extras and special content on its VOD platform 7Plus, but it's  not mandatory as Nine's is.

SBS's On Demand platform sign-in is mandatory. It launched the offering in December 2016 and since then, has seen more than 3.2 million user registrations.

SBS tells AdNews that last month its On Demand platform had its second biggest month to date, and also recorded the highest number of active users.

Channel Ten is yet to get with the signing in option, but this may change once its new owner CBS settles in.

Nine boasts five million user log-in details


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