“If you had said to me 2 years ago I’d be hosting Nine’s Rugby League coverage and the Australian Open coverage I would have said ‘That’s it, sign me up! I’m done, I can die happy!’” James Bracey confesses.
“Things change so quickly in TV. Who would have thought 6 months ago that Seven would have the Cricket and Nine would have the Tennis?”
Nine’s 100% Footy host was yesterday confirmed as one of three presenters for Nine’s upcoming Australian Open coverage, alongside Rebecca Maddern & Tony Jones.
Bracey has risen fast within Wide World of Sports ranks since joining Nine in December 2016. He had 13 years at SKY News covering Olympics in Vancouver and London and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. His gift of the gab has served him well.
“We had 8 channels in London so you were throwing from one thing to another.
“I’m lucky that I work in an industry where I can use something having always been a ‘talker.’ And I love Sport. So I can combine the two.
“I was 19 when I first started, producing Sport. I was writing out scripts for the Sports Editor at SKY News,” he recalls.
“When it grew as a channel I made my way onto the telly, hosting and producing my own stuff. 13 years later I had the opportunity to come across to Nine and do the NRL coverage.”
This year he was named as host of new Monday night show 100% Footy, State of Origin and NRL presenting and filling in as NRL Footy Show host during Erin Molan’s maternity. But he relishes the changes from Pay TV, despite its demands.
“There are a lot more bells and whistles in Free to Air television and a lot more pressure. Pressure in terms of making sure you get it right. There are a lot more eyeballs watching and you are very conscious of that, particularly when you are opening the State of Origin series and potentially there might be 4 million people watching you. You don’t want to be stuffing that up.
“But I thrive under pressure.”
While NRL Footy Show offers post-match analysis, Monday’s 100% Footy takes a wider view.
“Our key point is not to just review the week in Footy but to talk about the big issues. That’s why we have people like Phil Gould, Paul Gallen, Neil Breen and Ruan Sims to go hard, banter, argue, disagree… sometimes agree,” he explains.
But the new show also has an uphill battle with modest ratings as a new and late night offering.
“Our timeslot unfortunately is dependent on what’s leading in, which changes throughout the year. Sometimes it’s 9:45 and sometimes it’s 10:45,” he continues.
“One of the big strategies, particularly with the Tennis too, is digital. So we have the 9Now app where a lot of people are watching the next morning and social platforms. They might not be watching the whole show but excerpts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”
As a Sports aficionado the challenge of NRL, now added to Tennis commitments and summer duties, is a mix he embraces.
“To be honest that’s a position I am very happy to be in for quite a while.”