It’s upfronts season, with both Nine and Network 10 holding their respective events over the last two weeks, while Seven’s much-anticipated upfronts will be held in Sydney this Wednesday.
To get the low-down on how Nine and 10 have fared so far, B&T sat down with OMD head of trading Jane Combes and GroupM chief investment office Nicola Lewis in our latest podcast. Below are some of their thoughts.
To listen to the full interview, head here.
Are upfronts still important?
There have has been plenty of talk around whether the upfronts are still important, and according to both lewis and Combes, the upfronts are indeed a necessity.
Combes said: “Upfronts are very important for us [OMD]. It’s very much about garnering sentiment around the feel for the networks for the upcoming year. We really want to understand if those plans are robust enough to carry our clients’ investment.
She also said the timing of the upfronts is crucial as they run just before negotiations for the upcoming year, so knowing what the networks are offering in terms of content, data and tech is vital.
Lewis said the upfronts are important because it provides clients with confidence around programming.
“I think our clients just really want to know what networks’ plans are, so they can have a level of confidence around programming, whether it be a focus on reality, supporting existing formats, bringing new formats, thinking about how they’re going to pull new audiences into the ecosystem and distribute it across platforms, and also focus on sports and so on.”
Thoughts on Nine and 10’s upfronts
Both Combes and Lewis praised the upfronts so far, suggesting they have been “bold” yet also “consistent.”
Combes said: “I really enjoyed [the upfronts]. I think what 10 did really well was come out and say we’ve been considered this year. We’ve allowed ourselves to just embed ourselves and grow into this new partnership [with CBS] so that we can move through in 2020.”
On Nine’s upfronts, Lewis said the network went down a different angle.
“Commercially, they were very bold. The work they do around Powered is always really impressive. And I think that call to arms of around Powered as a marketer’s playground was quite nice. It will help y[marketers] navigate the sizeable Nine ecosystem because its asset base has grown exponentially over the last 12 months and will continue to do with the Macquarie radio assets.”
She said Nine focused heavily on its existing formats, such as the strength of MAFS and The Block, adding that she was impressed with 10 for adding newer content to the mix.
On whether she was hoping for newer content from Nine, Combes said no one can deny the programming Nine has is “incredibly strong” , but overall she thought Nine played more of the “leadserhip card”.
She said: “Overall, they do have that mass audience at scale. They’ve got the quality. I think it’s just going to be interesting to say next year, how they actually take that to market and how we can drive our clients businesses with it, and still cost-efficiently.”
Data offerings were “impressive”
Combes said Nine’s data unification project was “impressive”.
“Bringing together all of those businesses and all of that data together is no small feat. I think it’s 11 million. million, and that’s impressive. And if we can use that and implement it with our clients, it could make a difference to some businesses.
She also said it was impressive to see 10 leaning on its partnership with CBS, Quantum and Iota, adding: “It’s exactly what we want to see from 10.”
On Seven’s tumultuous year
Combes and Lewis both said they were excited to see what Seven will bring to the table next year, suggesting that what will be presented post-Warburton coming into the mix will be vastly different to what might have been prepared eight to 10 weeks ago.
Combes said: “I would assume that everything Tim Worner had to run at the upfronts has been ripped up and reinvigorated and it’s going to be really interesting to see what James brings to the table because he has been quite outspoken in the market, he’s making a lot of changes.”
Lewis said: “There’s no doubt it’s going to be a big and interesting year for Seven.”
Foxtel Media’s rebrand & Foxtel on Oxford
Foxtel Media (formerly MCN) didn’t have upfronts but rather an overall rebrand and the launch of its Foxtel on Oxford event space, which according to Lewis is a “full year, always on strategy” play. She also said Foxtel media is still an important part of the media mix.
“Instead of spending the dollars required for an upfront, they have Foxtel on Oxford, and I think that’s work for them.
“They’re still an incredibly important part of the media mix and the puzzle, and they do have a different offering.”
Combes said after the relaunch, an upfronts would be “overkill”.
She added: “I think if they’ve got that consistency and they’re keeping us informed after the relaunch, I don’t really think it’s that necessary [to have an upfront event].”
Working with clients in 2020
Both Combes and Lewish said each network so far has had a disparate offering and come out to market very differently, which is good for their clients, with Lewis adding she is excited about the briefing process this year.
She said: “This briefing process used to be quite linear and a little bit of a blunt instrument. Now there are so many layers to play with, whether it be in the integration space or data space, the tech space across connected TVs, new buying platforms, audio and so on.”
To listen to the full interview on B&T‘s Fast 30 podcast, head here.