The Nine Network was the most popular commercial network in Australia from its beginnings in the 1950s to the early 2000s, and has been responsible for some of the most popular shows in Australian history (such as Hey Hey It's Saturday and Sale of the Century). As such, some see it as a beloved Australian icon.
Up until about 2000, Nine had always been the clear ratings winner in both domestic and imported shows. However, since then, all of its good programmes started finishing, leaving it without any quality shows. Only a handful of shows it has made since then (such as reality show The Block or drama Underbelly) have been successful, and any quality American show had been bought up by the Seven Network or Network Ten — in particular, Seven securing the rights to both Lost and Desperate Housewives in 2005 is generally considered to be one of the main reasons Seven overtook Nine as the most popular network. With nowhere near the output of Aussie soaps and dramas that comes from rivals Seven Network, Network Ten and The ABC individually, it has been mostly coasting on sports, US imports and reality TV.
Nine also owns and operates four free-to-air television channels, three of which are designed to complement the primary Nine channel:
- Nine: the original channel, obviously.
- 9Go!, launched August 2009: oriented at a teen/young-adult audience.
- 9Gem, launched September 2010: covers a wide range of entertainment but generally favours female-oriented programming.
- 9Life, launched November 2015: contains lifestyle and reality shows.
- 9Rush, launched April 2020: contains male-oriented programming. So far the only channel of theirs to not be carried by regional affiliates.
For news, Nine partners with ABC from the United States. This is best reflected in their choice of news theme, a remix of the famous Tar Sequence theme from Cool Hand Luke, which was the news-theme mainstay of many an ABC affiliate until the early 90's. Their longtime slogan, Still the One!, (what originally started as a chart-topping song by Orleans) was also adopted from ABC's 1977-78 promotional campaign as was much of the network’s on-air presentation in the 1970s. (Seven has a similar relationship with NBC) Somewhat ironically, Nine also airs an Australian edition of CBS's 60 Minutes.