Incoming Nine CEO, Hugh Marks, has said his first task at the network will be to introduce more locally made content and drama.
The relatively unknown Marks, who took the reins from David Gyngell last week, has given wide ranging interviews to a variety of news organs.
He told Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph that the money Nine had saved from ending its content deal with Warner Brothers – some $100 million – would be reinvested back into Aussie made content with a focus on drama.
Marks’ comments follow-on from Screen Producers Australia’s attack last week on Network Ten for failing to produce any new local drama whatsoever over the financial year to 2015.
“We are not just a network, we’re a content business, and we’re doing more to define ourselves as a content business,” Marks told The Tele.
“Free-to-air to me is freely available content. Freely available content has a huge market going forward,” he said while admitting it was increasingly more difficult for the free-to-air networks to get the huge audiences they’d enjoyed in the past due to the number of players, paid and otherwise, in the market now.
Marks was also coy on the ongoing saga around the NRL rights and what, if anything, Nine was prepared to relinquish to appease Foxtel. It’s been reported in the media that some at Nine think the company paid way overs for the 2018-2022 rights – some $925 million – and bosses would be quite happy for the costs to be reduced even if it meant losing some live matches.
Marks told The Australian: “I think, as we said at the time, we’re really happy with the rights that we’ve got, so at the moment that’s where we sit.”
Meanwhile, Marks has told Fairfax Media that viewers of traditional TV had reached “the point of scale now”. He believed that free-to-air stations’ new revenues would come from streaming its content across mobile, tablets and desktop.
And again he stressed that local content would be Nine’s focus.
“Local content gives us a lot more opportunity for exploitation and gives us a lot more opportunity to engage with audiences in different way. With offshore content, we just need to get the pricing dynamic right and get rid of the high-cost, fixed-price deal and get to a deal where we are matching the performance of those rights,” Marks said.