Hamish Turner.

Nine’s program director Hamish Turner explains how he’s programming through the pandemic, outlines gains in audiences, a greater focus on news and the likely impact on 2021 schedules.

Q: Given the spike in at-home viewing during this lockdown, how have Nine’s primary and digital channels and 9Now benefited?

A: There’s been an increase in familiar brands and shows that can be co-viewed. Daytime has also seen big rises, primarily due to the increase in the available audience.

Q: Apart from Nine News, A Current Affair and the Today Show, which shows have shown significant gains in audiences?

A: Interesting pockets of growth. The 21 days of Bond on Gem attracted big audiences as have shows like the UK game show Tipping Point on Nine while on 9Now The Arrangement has been doing a great job.

Q: Married at First Sight gave you a great start to the year; overall, your schedule is working as you’d hoped?

A: Yes, everything has gone to plan, although COVID-19 wasn’t part of any plans, and we’ve had to stay very fluid and reactionary in our approach over the past month.

Q: How much rejigging of Nine’s primetime schedule have you had to do with shows like The Block and The Voice on hold and the NRL season suspended?

A: We’ve taken a more conservative approach to our short-term schedule and have lent into the news cycle to ensure we have coverage across the entire year. With the Olympics out we’ve had to do some rejigging to ensure we have a strong presence across the entire year.

Q: I know Nine welcomed the temporary suspension of the local content quotas but SPA fears the networks will not have any incentive to screen the local drama, kids and documentary content that was completed before the shutdown. Thoughts?

A: We will still be moving ahead with all dramas commissioned for this year in Doctor, Doctor, Informer 3838 and Halifax Retribution. We have just commissioned The Midwife from Playmaker Media. Given we work 6-18 months ahead of the TX schedule, the impact on scripted will hit in 2021.

Q: Will the US shutdown leave you short of shows for your digital channels?

A: No, we don’t anticipate this will impact our digital channels. There will be an impact on the new scripted slate coming out of the US over the next 12 months, probably similar to what we saw during the writers’ strike in 2007/08.

Q: On a personal note, how are you doing? Still in the office or working remotely? How are you filling in the downtime?

A: Working from home, days tend to melt into one another. On the weekends getting those projects done that you’ve always talked about but haven’t found the time or resolve to do. Discovering new ways to work but also missing human interaction; we are a very collaborative team that requires robust creative discussions that don’t manifest as easily over Zoom or teams.

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