With two weeks to go to the delayed Australian Open, Nine tonight begins a most unusual fortnight of specials including Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Travel Guides and Married at First Sight.
For Nine Programming Director Hamish Turner the confirmation of the tennis plans came rather late, but he is optimistic audiences will embrace the new content and ultimately, the AO itself.
“When an event like that shifts back, you’ve got a couple of things to work out: how do we fill that void? There’s still revenue that needs to be written, there’s obviously competitors that are ready to go. There’s multiple things in play in terms of those decisions,” he explains.
“If you’re wanting to do some new stuff, you’ve got a very short window in order to get those things out. So we’re filling two of those weeks with a variety of content -content I’m very confident will do the job for us.”
Three Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? primetime specials will screen -the first with Frontline Workers being celebrated tonight, then two Celebrity specials next week.
There are four Travel Guides specials, filmed in Byron Bay, Uluru, Tasmania and the Whitsundays, with further new episodes to screen later in coming months.
Two Married at First Sight: Grand Reunion specials screen across next Sunday and Monday, with a full series to follow the tennis.
“We bring back past participants of MAFS and they’ll have a grand diner party soiree. What we find is fireworks erupting in the dinner party, as they always do.
“But I think what sets up our new series really well is the second episode where we hear about the experience that they’ve gone through, how it’s enriched them, helped them move forward and possibly find love elsewhere.”
“60 Minutes is also back in new episodes from the 31st of January and they’re kicking off with a huge story.”
Is having the Australian Open in ratings season a positive or negative, especially given some big names are not in attendance?
“I think from a share perspective, it’ll deliver some really strong numbers, because obviously the AO goes late. The element we’re not entirely sure about is it’s not in the school holidays. It’s a different time of the year, people have gone back to work,” Turner admits.
“But there’s also more people coming into TV at that time, because you’ll have your competitors at full strength running their show. So there’s more people in the ecosystem and therefore, after they’ve watched their (stripped) shows do they go into the AO and does that actually buoy the numbers?
“So there’s a lot of factors there that are untested. But I think overall, it will deliver very strong numbers from a share perspective. For us it sets up a very strong promotional platform for our slate of new shows. And those shows will then push later into the year.
“So we may have lost a little bit at this point in time, but you’ll get back later in the year.”
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 7:30pm tonight, 8:30pm Feb 1 & 2.
Travel Guides 7:30pm Tues & Wed Jan 25 – Feb 3
Married at First Sight: Grand Reunion 7pm Sun Jan 31, 7:30pm Mon Feb 1
60 Minutes 8:30pm Sun Jan 31