Planet Earth II premiered in the UK earlier this month, with more than 12 million viewers tuning in to see Sir David Attenborough return to a landmark series 10 years after the original.
Nine has the rights for Australia, and this week at the Screen Forever conference, CEO Hugh Marks was interviewed about a number of issues by ABC’s Virginia Trioli.
Planet Earth II was on her list of questions as she cautioned against the risk of losing viewers in delayed titles.
“How long are you going to make us wait for Planet Earth II? Because I know friends who are already illegally streaming it from the UK because you guys are making us wait,” she asked.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Marks admitted, “and that’s an honest answer. It won’t be on air before next year, I can tell you that much.”
“That gets us to a problematic area, though doesn’t it?” Trioli continued.
“I mean, fair enough, the BBC has the right to sell the rights and they want to maximise that and I’m sure they’ve optioned a very, very lucrative deal for themselves with you and it wouldn’t be cheap. And you’re going to sit on it. But Australian audiences who have access to VPNs and the like are not going to want to wait.”
“But you have to remember 85% of viewing is still Live linear television,” Marks responded. “So yes there will be some people at the margin …and we all know those people because we’re in the business. But the great bulk of the population are still watching Live linear television. So we might lose some people.
“But if the show is good, when it plays, it will play well.”
Planet Earth II was announced last week as part of Nine’s 2017 programming plans.