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“We Don’t Create Content For Total People!” Nine’s Michael Stephenson

“We Don’t Create Content For Total People!” Nine’s Michael Stephenson
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The Nine network has had a big year from Married At First Sight scandals to winning over hearts with LEGO Master, however, while the network didn’t win the ratings war it did come first in key demos.

Which according to Michael Stephenson, the chief sales officer at Nine, – that is the real win.

While Seven is celebrating total eyeballs, Nine is celebrating engaging with core audiences, aka consumers that are buying!

Stephenson told B&T: “We have only ever been focused on things that matter to advertisers and that is the three key demographics, we create and purchase and license content specifically for those demos.

“We don’t create content focused on total people.” 

An example of commissioning a show, not for total people, is Nine’s Love Island. A show that has become ingrained in internet culture and while doesn’t rate number one in entertainment finds a whole new audience on demand, it continually sees a huge lift, usually over 100 per cent. 

Stephenson said: “We commission because it’s 16 to 39-year-olds. 

“It’s not a total people show, but its strength is on-demand, and when you look at those viewers, they are increasingly hard to reach”

Of course, this business model fits well with the effects of COVID-19, Stephenson said: “As individuals as communities and as businesses, we’ve learned to be resilient and adapt quickly.

“What’s really happened I think COVID has accelerated the change in consumer behaviour. That’s really about how people consume our content, and how they consume our content has changed.”

So if Stephenson’s observations are correct, focusing on shows that also can have a life outside of just live television is how to continue to reach key audiences and connect with audiences that are becoming more and more difficult to reach like young people.

It’s this kind of mantra that sees Nine focusing on consistently commissioning shows that are particularly relevant to a certain audience, like Married At First or LEGO Masters and according to Stephenson consistency is the key, “Our viewers know what the year is going to look like.” and assumedly that’s why they tune in. 

As for the future of 9now, Stephenson explained: “Further investment in ad product, continuing to improve the consumer experience, making it a seamless experience for consumers.”

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