With the Nine Network’s primary channel on track to deliver its highest ever commercial shares this year, the broadcaster’s upfronts announcement on Wednesday night predictably contained few surprises.
Among the new offerings will be The Parent Jury, which puts diverse parenting styles to the test; retro variety show Step Back in Time; and observational documentary series Taronga: Who’s Who In the Zoo.
The network also unveiled the cast of Screentime’s drama Informer 3838, which stars Ella Scott Lynch (Love Child, Doctor Doctor, Upright) as Melbourne criminal lawyer turned police informant Nicola Gobbo.
In a new agreement with BBC Studios, Nine will get Seven Worlds, One Planet, a landmark wildlife series presented by Sir David Attenborough, which will transport viewers to seven continents as it reveals the survival challenges facing numerous animals.
That deal also encompasses first-run rights to five series under the BBC Planet banner including Perfect Planet, Green Planet, Frozen Planet II and Planet Earth III.
So Nine’s 2020 schedule will largely be underpinned by renewals of hit franchises Married at First Sight, The Block, LEGO Masters, The Voice and Australian Ninja Warrior.
“It’s about consistency and returning brands,” Nine program director Hamish Turner tells IF. “We have our platform shows peppered with some new offerings.”
The network revealed it is spending $1 billion on local content next year, including sports, news and current affairs.
Nine’s commercial share of the 25-54 demographic currently sits at 39.6 per cent, up 3.7 per cent year-on-year, with a 38.7 per cent share of 16-39, up 3.8 per cent.
The network also leads the way in the digital space with 9Now as the No. 1 commercial free-to-air BVOD platform with a 47 per cent share and Married at First Sight and Love Island UK as the most streamed VOD programs of the year..
Based on a format created in-house, The Parent Jury will see helicopter parents, tiger parents, free-range parents, designer parents and strict authoritarians judging each other’s parenting to try to convince the group their way is best.
Turner describes the show as quite confrontational and emotional but also filled with joy and a pay-off for struggling parents.
Another in-house concept, Step Back in Time will celebrate key moments in pop culture from TV, movies, music, news, sport, advertising and technology, with each episode focusing on a particular era, filmed with a live studio audience. Nine is yet to reveal the production companies behind both series.
Directed by Geoff Bennett and Ben C. Lucas and produced for Screentime by Anna Molyneaux and Kerrie Mainwaring, Informer 3838 is billed as the untold story of how one woman’s secret double life helped to fight the Melbourne gangland wars and trigger a Royal Commission.
Underbelly’s Gyton Grantley and Robert Mammone reprise their roles as crims Carl Williams and Tony Mokbel, with Rhys Muldoon as police informant Terrence Hodson. The cast includes Stephen Peacocke, Richard Davies, Olympia Valance, Jane Harber and Hollie Andrew. Joseph Pickering is the DOP.
The drama slate includes Beyond Lonehand’s previously announced rebootHalifax: Retribution, which stars Rebecca Gibney and Anthony LaPaglia, and the fourth of Easy Tiger’s Doctor Doctor.
Gibney returns as forensic psychiatrist Jane Halifax, who has embarked on a new career as a university professor but is lured back into the field to help the police after a serial sniper starts terrorising Melbourne.
LaPaglia plays Inspector Tom Saracen, leader of task force Stingray. Also joining the cast are Claudia Karvan, Jacqueline McKenzie, Rick Donald, Craig Hall, Michala Banas, Stephen Curry and John Waters. “It’s a really gritty, edgy urban crime drama,” Turner says.
Nine is yet to decide on a renewal of ITV Studios Australia (ITVSA) and Every Cloud Productions’ SeaChangereboot which delivered healthy ratings in August/September. “We’re working through the funding model for a second series,” Turner says.
McAvoy Media’s Taronga: Who’s Who in the Zoo will take viewers behind the scenes at one of the world’s most famous zoos, examining the work of 240 keepers and vets as they care for 5,000 animals. Cineflix Rights pre-sold the 10-part show to Nat Geo Wild for the US and More 4 for the UK.
The factual slate also includes WTFN Entertainment’s Emergency, which looks at the medical professionals at the Royal Melbourne Hospital as they deal with life-threatening conditions, a second season of WTFN’s Paramedics and another helping of Screentime’s RBT.
The 2020 schedule kicks off with the seventh series of Endemol Shine Australia (ESA)’s Married at First Sight, followed by the second of ESA’s LEGO Masters with host Hamish Blake, resident judge Ryan “Brickman” McNaught and eight new pairs of creators.
The ninth edition of ITVSA’s The Voice will see another batch of all stars return to take on new contestants in the quest to win $100,000 and a recording contract, with coaches Kelly Rowland, Delta Goodrem, Guy Sebastian and Boy George.
The fourth run of ESA’s Australian Ninja Warrior will feature a new location and new obstacles as competitors vie for the $100,000 prize, which jackpots to $300,000 for the first person to scale Mount Midoriyama. In a twist, a special event series will pit the best of the best against each other in a knockout challenge.
The 16th season of The Block, a Nine production in conjunction with Cavalier Television, moves to the affluent Melbourne bayside suburb of Brighton.