Nine Entertainment has announced a major overhaul of its network, restructuring its HD broadcasting and pushing all its channels on to a new app that will offering both live-streaming and catch-up content for free.
Until now, Nine has offered catch-up TV through its online streaming platform, 9Jumpin. But the network is now upping its game in a bid to take onand the comparatively established catch-up services of ABC and SBS.
The ABC is already in the live-streaming space, albeit just with its 24-hour news channel, and its iView streaming service is now established across Smart TVs, consoles and set-top boxes. SBS also significantly, offering more than and online-exclusive video.
With Australians increasingly switching off traditional linear television and turning towards over-the-top streaming and subscription video on demand, Nine is presumably after a slice of this digital pie.
Set to launch in "early 2016," Nine Entertainment says its 9Now streaming platform will be "a premium destination for live streaming, catch-up and on-demand content for all of the Nine Network's linear channels." All of Nine's free-to-air channels will stream live while the "majority" of the network's content will be available on-demand according to a spokesperson. The app will be free to use, requiring a single log-in for access.
Content is expected to progressively roll out on to the platform from early next year, and 9Now will be available on both desktop and mobile, with apps for iOS and Android from launch and a Windows app "to follow."
Nine will also make the app available for PlayStation, Telstra TV and Apple TV, as well as Sony, Samsung and LG devices (though there was no mention of specific models). It will also be available "after launch" on Xbox and Fetch TV.
To tie in with the new digital strategy, Nine has also tweaked its approach to HD, announcing that from November 26 its flagship Channel Nine will be broadcast in high definition. Previously, Nine's newer digital-only channel Gem was the home of the broadcaster's HD content, but the newly-named 9Gem channel will now revert to SD.
The availability of HD will of course depend on the resolution of the content the network is airing, so you're not likely to see any retro episodes of "Friends" in HD any time soon. But the network is promising that NRL and "the upcoming summer of cricket" will be in HD, with Nine proffering the over-share that "viewers will be able to see every blade of grass and every bead of sweat in high definition."
As part of the upgrade, the Nine Network is adjusting its channel listings, but viewers without an HD TV will still be able to access an SD stream of Channel 9 programming on that channel of their TV. The Network is also adding a new lifestyle channel to its lineup, known as 9Life.
But it's not all about moving into the 21st Century for Nine. In a sign that parts of the network skipped the upgrade, Nine has announced it will be airing a new hypnotism-based game show in 2016, hosted by Daryl Somers.
New Nine Network channels
- 9HD - Channel 90
- 9 in standard definition - Channel 9 and 91
- 9Gem - Channel 92
- 9GO! - Channel 93 and 99
- 9Life - Channel 94
- Extra (home shopping) - Channel 95