Nine to launch fourth channel
The Nine Network today announced the launch of a fourth free-to-air channel and outlined plans to start live streaming all four channels in 2016.
Debuting on November 26, 9Life will feature lifestyle and reality content sourced mostly from Scripps Networks Interactive whose brands include HGTV, DIY Network, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Travel Channel.
The new channel will screen programs that had not been seen on Australian television before such as Flip or Flop, House Hunters and House Hunters International and Tiny House, Big Living and Fixer Upper. Some other content will be held back until after the Foxtel premieres.
The line-up will also include The Bachelor USA, Million Dollar Listing, Flipping Out, Top Chef and Millionaire Matchmaker.
That will be the second free-to-air channel to launch next month. SBS's Food Network, with programming sourced largely from Scripps Networks, goes live on November 17.
Network executives played down the prospect that 9Life may cannibalise some viewers of its female-skewed channel Gem.
At Nine's upfronts launch director of TV Michael Healy said the channel is just as likely to steal viewers from other networks and chief revenue officer Peter Wiltshire said the main aim is to attract and maintain viewers across Nine’s suite of four channels.
Nine Entertainment CEO David Gyngell said in a statement: “9Life is Australia’s first free-to-air lifestyle channel. It is a fresh and exciting new channel designed to inspire and entertain. We’ve worked hard to source the very best lifestyle programs in the world right now, each with big, strong characters that will resonate with fans of the genre.”
Dubbed 9Now, the streaming and video-on-demand service will launch in early 2016..
Wiltshire said the flagship Nine channel, which will be telecast in HD while Gem reverts to SD, would be streamed first, followed progressively by the other three channels.
9Now will replace JumpIn as the destination for catch-up viewing and viewing for free on demand and with a second screen app.
Content will be available on numerous devices and platforms including Telstra’s newly launched Telstra TV, Fetch TV, Apple TV, X-box, Chromecast, Sony PlayStation and LG and Samsung TVs.
Users will sign in, giving them a range of user benefits- and enabling NEC to provide specific targeting for advertisers.
Wiltshire acknowledged the decline in free-to-air audiences this year but said that when playback and catch up viewing are factored in the “audience fatigue is not as significant as was once believed.”