An ode to outgoing CEO Hugh Marks with his five-year tenure sports blueprint at Channel 9 Australia

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It is no surprise that Hugh wanted to experiment something new when he started as Channel 9’s CEO in November 2015.

The first thing he oversaw is Steve Crawley leave the head of sport role in January 2016. He is now in a similar role at Fox Sports.

Tom Malone replaced him, who came from Today/60 Minutes executive producer.

He stayed in this role for another three and a half years. Tom now manages the radio side of Nine via 2GB.

Taking his place is Brent Williams. Brent has been at Nine for a long time.

He managed lots of sports & live entertainment in the past.

And Brent will always look to produce their top quality live sports product on the air.

His predecessor completed Their extension with the NRL from 2018. David Gyngell struck this deal without using the first & last rights clause.

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The original deal saw Nine covering every Thursday to Saturday Nights. As well as the usual Sunday afternoon & finals.

Then Fox Sports became unhappy and rearranged a revised extension.

Nine would get three games & final five rounds on Saturday Nights plus all finals.

And Foxtel got their fair share with every match live except the Grand Final.

Nine also moved into its first foray in the world of netball in 2017.

They prized this sport off Foxtel/ Network 10 and aired two games live on free TV. And shared the other two with Telstra TV bundled up with delayed replays for free.

That move to increase free to air exposure is a big success. And it did not add any harm to have some paywall themselves.

I am sure Nine will renew with this game after next year.

Then we move on to the cricket, and this is a tough one to be honest.

The recent change with the coverage graphics and setting looked cool in 2016.

But the only thing that they lacked is the commentary.

The poor commentary may not have claimed their mind.

It is the lack of streaming which is difficult to monetise.

Plus, the lack of revenue of investment that resulted in a loss of money.

And whatever other areas they identified saw Nine made a very difficult decision.

They ended a 40-year tenure with cricket and signed a contract elsewhere.

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You name it. It is the Australian Open Tennis.

I am biased so I may initially dislike this movie.

But looking at a business standpoint, I find it understandable.

That deal is a goldmine. There is exclusivity. They will not have any problem steaming every game live on the courts.

And Nine can cross-promote any program that can kickstart the ratings year.

It resulted in a much better success than ever before in Hugh’s tenure.

I am sure Nine does want the cricket back in a few years. And they do want to combine with the Tennis. But only if it makes sense with the price.

We go back to the rugby league once more earlier this year.

This time Hugh is in a standoff with the NRL board & Todd Greenberg.

Nine looked dissatisfied with the games lost resulted in COVID-19.

But he got the discount deal resolved thanks to chairman Peter V’landys.

And his last deal of sport landed with Rugby Union.

Nine ended Foxtel’s exclusive 25 year relationship with this code.

They will have more control than ever before, like the tennis.

Most of the games will be via Stan, which is a subscription streaming service.

But it comes as an add-on rather than a standard option.

The best thing about this movie that Nine will air one Super Rugby live on Saturdays.

That what makes every rugby die-hard fan happy.

Everyone has a choice. If you cannot afford Stan, it does not matter too much.

Every big moment both club and country will be on Nine.

And the whole lot of Rugby content will be on Stan Sport if you can afford it.

It is sad to see Hugh go over his outside work drama.

But he is a brilliant business operator like Hamish McLennan.

I wish Hugh the best of luck. And whoever replaces him should continue that legacy.

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