The ongoing feud between WIN Corporation and Channel Nine could end as early as today with the Bruce Gordon-owned WIN set to sign a five-year affiliate deal with the Ten Network for content.
WIN, which covers extensive parts of regional Australia, had a deal in place with Nine to run its content. However, Nine Entertainment wants to stream its content live over its 9Now internet channel. WIN legally challenged the move but it was rejected in the NSW Supreme Court last Thursday.
Both Seven and Ten already live stream content over the internet via their Plus7 and Ten Live streams respectively.
Nine also signed an affiliate deal with Southern Cross Media Group last week meaning WIN had little choice but to sign a deal with Ten for content. Southern Cross and Ten also signed a deal for northern NSW last week, where WIN does not have any stations.
The deals are important as regional networks reportedly represent over a third of all viewer eyeballs in Australia.
However, the new deals could prove a real headache for agencies unprepared for the switch or with existing deals in place that are no longer valid. Many campaigns are booked against expected audience numbers, which would be cast into doubt following the eventuality of the new agreements.
Agencies also have no idea if and where big events – such as the Rio Olympics in August – will air in some regional centres. Meaning booking ads against them is set to prove problematic in the short term.
Speaking in The Australian this morning, Peter Horgan, managing director of OMD, said of the shake-up: “No industry embraces disruption lightly and it’s likely to cause a short-term revenue hiccup.
“No business likes disruption and obviously it’s not a decision they took lightly.
“We recognise that, and we also recognise that there was a commercial rationale for doing the switch,” he said.
Dentsu Aegis Network Australia chief executive Simon Ryan agreed the new deals would see short-term pain for lon-term gain. “With any change like this you’re going to see some minor changes in top-line revenue, but I think you’ll find longer term, as things get evened out, it’s a good thing,” Ryan told The Oz.