What started out as a strategy to save money has turned into an unexpected bidding war between Nine & Seven.
Love Island Australia is a show that “set a new bar for cross-platform for television and digital performance on a major Australian free-to-air program”, well that’s how Nine described the first season when the network found itself with a hit that drove consumers to its 9Now website. The program has been a major success story that has changed the narrative of commercial television and the way ratings are considered.
So when TV Tonight reported Nine had let its rights lapse and Seven were on the hunt many in the industry were shaking their heads in shock.
Was someone asleep at the wheel?
Well, no they weren’t.
Sources tell TV Blackbox Nine played a game of chess that could now cost them dearly. The network, believing Seven and 10 wouldn’t be in a position to bid for the show, decided to let its rights lapse in order to play hard-ball with ITV Studios Australia as part of a strategy to bring costs down.
Nine is currently looking at cost reductions across all sectors of its business as its faces a weak advertising market. As reported on this website yesterday, there have been redundancies across its news division as part of a $10 million budget reduction.
But the Love Island Australia plan has backfired with Seven now ready to pay up. This is despite the network previously talking down Nine’s success with the program.
In 2018 then CEO Tim Warner told Mediaweek;
“I didn’t see what was so different about Love Island. They ran it on a multichannel and they had catch-up. They have spun a great story about finding new audiences and that sort of claptrap. I don’t buy it. There are more millennials watching Seven News than watched Love Island. It is easy to lose sight of facts like that.”
Admittedly Worner is no longer at the network, but the potential acquisition of Love Island is a major change of tactic for Seven. Executives at the network are said to be shocked they are even in the running for the franchise, considering how important it has been to Nine.
But now it’s on like Donkey Kong!