Nine has quit Sony deal

Nine is understood to let go its output deal with Sony Pictures Television, opting not to renew with the Hollywood studio prior to the LA screenings.

It retained is output deal with Warner Bros.

The move meant the shows Sony showcased at the last LA screenings are believed to be without an Australian broadcaster:

The Last Resort (ABC)
The Mob Doctor (FOX) [pictured]
Made in Jersey (CBS)
Hannibal (NBC)
Save Me (NBC)

Other broadcasters are believed to be in discussion with Sony.

On Wednesday CEO David Gyngell told Aussie media, “The Nine Network has walked away from a big Hollywood studio and I’m pretty sure the Seven Network will walk away from a big Hollywood studio.”

He cited Downton Abbey and Revenge as the only two overseas shows working on Australian TV.

“If you throw in The Big Bang Theory and a few other small bits of television you can fill up schedules but you will not pull big audiences to FTA television when you are competing for eyeballs for television from a range of devices.”

Gyngell plans to lobby Communications Minister Stephen Conroy for further licence fee rebates.

“People wrote that the licence fee rebate went to to bottom line – it hasn’t. The profitability of the three commercial TV networks are at an all-time low. We have to keep investing in local production and the government respects that. I’m going to lobby him to go harder to reduce the next round of licence fees not so we can improve the bottom line, but so we can again invest in Australian production and Australian drama.”

He singled out TEN’s Offspring as the best on local TV lately.

“We have made some OK television in the past three years, but our new House Husbands for me is the best piece of character drama we have made at Channel Nine. I’ve put plenty of bad television on air in the past but I reckon I’m right on this one.

Underbelly Badness is an amazing piece of television. We need to do some work with investors to ensure that when you come up with something as good as this it shouldn’t have to stop after 65 episodes. Underbelly has given great employment and great opportunities to different people as it’s been a different story every series.

“One project important to me is Kerry Packer’s War. The story Chris Lee has told and the research he has clearly done is so good that there’s only a few people like myself, James Packer, his mother and perhaps John Cornell will pick up on. Lachy Hulmes’ performance is so good that I get a little nervous and a little bit sweaty when I see it.”

Source: Mediaweek


  1. Sorry David, I just thought old shows like Seinfeld were different from continuing established shows like Days of Our Lives, that you already clarified. Sorry for the daft question.

    I would guess that Go would not want to lose those classic shows, but Nine did not seem to utilise this deal well, so it makes sense to dump it.

  2. The deal gave Nine access to Sony films and to repeats of ancient shows screened on Go, but not so much to hit new, high rating TV shows. I can’t see Hannibal lasting, due to the dark nature of the show and also to how highly sanitised it’ll have to be for free to air TV, unlike Dexter.

    Having access to Sony TV distributed shows like Breaking Bad (half financed and distributed by Sony TV), Damages and Justified was mostly pointless, as Nine onsold them to Foxtel (as was done with new episodes of Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Nikita, Hart of Dixie, Chuck from Warners), when those 3 shows would’ve been good fits for Gem.

  3. Totally random question……. How do 9 have “The View” if its produced by ABC and 7 have the output deal.
    Has it been with 9 for many years before the output deals?

  4. Maev....Sydney

    Yes…that does include Days of our Lives….and Good Grief….there goes the next series of Drop Dead Diva also….I just hope is does not hold up DVD sales…as it looks like that is the only way I am going to be able to watch it….*sigh*

  5. I’ve seen nearly all of Howzat/Kerry Packers War, and I didn’t like it personally, but then again I hate cricket, and Kerry Packer, so I was never going to be its biggest fan.

  6. James-original

    @ Goatracer
    ‘Ask any man on the street if he would not watch something because it is on Go instead of Nine any he would look at you like you have lost your mind.’
    Ummmm how about Big Bang, it never does anything near what it does on Nine. Neighbours way down on Eleven. Fringe on GO v Nine. The numbers are there for all to see. Digitals do not grab anything like the audience that primary channels do. Is your man is the street sample of 1 person?

  7. There is a few stand out problems with Australian Television and one of the biggest being what the American fast-food industry worked out years ago.
    Biggest being consistency,McDonald’s or Hungry Jacks do not make the best hamburgers but people buy them by the bucket-load because they know that when ever they are in need of a sugary protein fix they can get whatever they have adjusted their taste buds to tolerate whenever they want it.
    Consistency and familiarity are the key,why would anyone watch Neighbors or Home and Away if not for these two dubious qualities.
    The biggest furphy being thrust upon us at the moment is their is some how a difference between the quality of the channel numbers this just being a complete illusion and if this is portrayed through the rating system as being a workable obstacle ,fix it.
    My point through all this rambling being that there is more then enough channel space to slot quality programming at set times on one of the allocated channels.
    Ask any man on the street if he would not watch something because it is on Go instead of Nine any he would look at you like you have lost your mind.
    Get back to basics,buy or produce quality programming,put it on a fixed channel at a set time and give it time to work,the result may amaze them.

  8. Secret Squirrel

    Gotta say that I appreciate Gyngell’s directness in interviews but he passed over a couple of things.

    Firstly, whatever audience a show might have achieved is going to be negatively impacted when you sit on it for months or years, start it in a variable timeslot or one too late for its core demo, or put it after a show which appeals to a completely different demo. This goes double for show likely to appeal to a tech-savvy audience (eg Fringe), and triple for shows that we know have already been cancelled in there home country.

    The advertise-as-starting-at-8:30-but-actually-starting-at-8:40-8:55 BS doesn’t help either – it just drives people to sources where they can control the start time.

    Secondly, not only has Nine “…made some OK television in the past three years…”, but it has made some absolute rubbish. Awful, embarrassing rubbish. I don’t mean shows that don’t appeal to me, I mean shows where the writing is so bad that even if the acting and directing are to a satisfactory standard, they’re already a dead duck because of banal scripting, unimaginative storylines, unbelievable plot points, and corny dialogue.

    Lastly, “Kerry Packer’s War” – is that what we’re referring to as ‘Howzat’? I’m hoping that this will be good but I haven’t enjoyed any Aussie-made drama on Nine since the first Underbelly so I won’t get too excited.

  9. This is rediculous. Firstly, the reason U.S. shows aren’t performing as well is because Australian TV networks (both FTA and STV) only take fast-tracking half seriously, which results in people seeing shows by “other means” or find out the plots as they are on every international TV website and social networking site. I can predict GCB is going to underperform on Seven as it is already cancelled in the U.S., and shows on Nine like the CSI franchise, The Mentalist, Person of Interest all get bumped to various timeslots as well as being months behind the U.S. so you can’t say it’s U.S. shows that are the problem but rather Australian programming heads who make these decisions.
    Onto the shows, I really would like to see Made in Jersey and The Last Resort so hopefully another network picks them up (hopefully Foxtel as they are much more consistent with fast-tracking the FTA).

  10. interesting. now many new shows have Nine, Go and Gem actually aired from Sony in the last two years? not many. cause they seem to have more repeats of old Sony shows on Go and every newer show on Nine seem to be Warner Bros. theres a large number of American shows on Nine, Go and Gem that are WB shows so not too many people would notice if Sony was gone from the picture.

    its funny, Ten used to own Sony and then Nine got it. Ten also used to own Universal and Seven got it. and now they don’t want them! perhaps they’ll give them back?

    don’t think Seven will give up Universal just yet, they do have a lot of comedies from Universal but are usually played late at night so maybe its a good thing another channel gets it. they also have a number of Dramas from Universal so the amount Universal shows Seven has is much bigger than Nines Sony shows.

    we need more info on how this works David.

  11. Just as long as all this ‘walking away’ doesn’t prevent another night of Bridget Jones vs The Devil Wears Prada like we have tonight. That’d be awful…

  12. David Gyngell is cleverly linking two issues here – the licence fee rebate and commitment to Australian drama – but they are not linked. Until CVC take the loss they must take on their investment, Nine is crippled by debt and the licence fee rebate will go straight to their bottom line. If David Gyngell can get rid of that debt burden maybe he’ll be heard by Conroy. Good luck with both of those. Clearly great Australian content is working and these expensive US deals are not providing sure fire 830 hits any more.

    Secondly Offspring is a indeed a great series – female led, skewed, produced and written by women. Until Nine start understanding the other 50% of their potential audience they will never have a hit like Offspring. Even the title of House Husbands tells you why Nine went for it – that is their idea of appealing to everyone who matters in their universe. We’ll see if it strikes a cord.

    Finally maybe 65 episodes is enough of the Underbelly franchise – terminally tarnished by poor decisions to make it nasty, sexist, violent, salacious and dumb. Underbelly:Badness what kind of a title is that?

  13. I don’t think the issue is Australian audiences or networks. Its the American networks. The strike rate is so low and declining, there have barely been any hits in the last 3 years. There are ‘good enough to be renewed’ but there hasn’t been a show I’d classify as a hit since modern family/glee. These output deals are a waste of money that delivers mostly unusable content. Hopefully if networks around the world start dropping out of these deals it will give hem a kick in the pants they need to make better content.

  14. I can see Seven walking away from Universal but i don’t think it will happen purely because of the News side of the deal. Seven uses a lot of content from there and they are about to use shows such as Smash and Up All Night. I think Seven may team up with Foxtel to split the deal like TEN does with the Fox deal. So we will see. Sony isn’t a big deal but i can see TEN picking up the Sony deal because they need it.

  15. “Seven Network will walk away from a big Hollywood studio”
    I can see Seven walking away from their long term partner NBC Universal, i been looking at the shows they produce and seven are hardly showing any. While ABC Studios make revenge, once apon a time and some others.
    But Gyngell is right, those five shows that are upcoming from Sony, look like they would be no good to watch and never rate. Australian television seems to be moving towards more Australian productions which is only a good thing.

  16. What will this mean for shows currently shown on Nine/GO! such as Unforgettable, Seinfield, Community and Days of Our Lives which are distributed by Sony?

  17. The reason that US shows aren’t succeeding is because they seem to pick the shows that are awful and get cancelled in the US before the first season has ended. The programmers have no sense of what’s going to succeed, either with local productions or international, and it’s just been failure after failure.

  18. David, thanks for bringing us these quotes – interesting comments, and I admire the frankness of David Gyngell in his assessment of what works and what doesn’t on domestic TV.
    He’s correct too – increasingly, aside from blockbuster sport and a few ‘big’ US or Brit dramas aside, it’s well-made, renewable Aussie drama franchises that really resonate with the home market that are the absolute key to delivering serious audiences to FTA television here.

    Same in the UK, where with very few exceptions, there are virtually no non-domestic dramas playing in prime time any more on the two major FTA channels, BBC One and ITV1. Contrast that to the ’80s when top-ten rating titles like ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty’ played at 8pm.

  19. I think (somewhat sadly) Nine is right … most US dramas are not performing as well as they once did.

    Revenge and DA are the only foreign standouts, and only a handful of shows are going ‘okay’ (eg. Bones, Castle, NCIS, …) but the majority have gone downhill hard.

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