In year two of its $300m Tennis Australia deal, Nine is boasting a record commercial result off the back of its multi-platform Australian Open strategy.
With major sponsors and partners spanning across a range of industries and sectors, including Kia, ANZ, Uber Eats, APT, Peters Icecream, Swisse, Stan, Chemists Warehouse, Swinburne Online, TAL, Campbell’s Arnott’s and APIA, Nine’s director of sales – sport Matt Granger said the broadcaster is “thrilled” with the results.
“This year’s Australia Open has been a record commercial result, as we have worked to integrate our commercial partners and sponsors in and around the exceptional tennis being played on court and deliver them real results that move the needle for their businesses,” said Granger.
“When it comes to tennis it always dominates the national conversation in January and this year has been no exception.
“We’ve been thrilled with the ways our partners have been able to capitalise on the incredible opportunity that is the Summer of Tennis that begins with the ATP Cup and then culminates in the AO.”
Nine nabbed the Tennis Australia rights from Seven in 2018, with last year kicking off its $60 million a year contract. Seven had held the tennis rights for over 40 years.
While the strategy from year one to year two hasn’t changed too much, Nine’s director of sport Brent Williams told B&T he’s confident in this year’s strategy.
“Last year came in a bit of a rush, we got it [tennis rights] late, so we pulled together what we thought was a pretty good coverage year one,” Williams said.
“And it’s just taking it up a level in year two, and that’s being reflected in our coverage where we’re really happy with the way it’s going in terms of our production pieces and scheduling.”
Williams said Nine had a solid year to reflect on its first year strategy and is “really happy” with the result of year two, while also acknowledging the simple luck of having some “unbelievable” tennis being played.
Although it cannot all be put down to luck, especially when you consider all of Nine’s media assets across TV, print and radio.
With Fairfax now sitting under the Nine umbrella, as well as Macquarie Media (now Nine Radio), it can’t be denied Nine certainly has all its ducks in a row.
And, while Williams admits Nine is somewhat “learning on the run” when it comes to having multiple assets under one roof, he’s confident in its multi-platform strategy.
He said: “We have a great ecosystem of helping out with each other in terms of tennis talent and guests and content, and driving everyone back to broadcast. It’s a good promotional tool across all of those platforms.”
Another important part of the broadcast strategy this year is social media and digital components such as 9Now and the WWOS websites.
Williams said it’s important to go where audiences are: “The thing about Tennis is we’re on air from 10am to sometimes 2am at night. So the reality is that people can’t sit down and watch every minute of that coverage. And people can choose differently now.”
He also said this year’s strategy plays on being able to give viewers who can’t sit down and watch extended hours of coverage updates and news on the biggest moments of the day.
“It is really important – that sporting ecosystem between social and digital and broadcast itself – where we can promote within ourselves and and point towards each other; it’s a really important factor.”
Has sports rights reached its peak?
While it’s a conversation that’s been going on for a few years now, it seems every time sporting rights change hands, the question once again arises: has it reached its peak?
Williams said there is certainly a tipping point, and unsurprisingly said any decision Nine makes around broadcast rights going forward has to “make sense for [Nine] as a business.”
“I think the days of just losing money for the sake of having sport and considerable amounts of money. Those days are gone.”
He believes sports rights have perhaps already reached a tipping point, and that new models will need to be discussed in the future.
“From a financial point of view, it’s probably at a tipping point almost right now. It’s a really interesting discussion going forward.
“Everyone’s aware of that and all the sports bodies are aware of that. We just need to explore different models going forward.”
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