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Nine

Nine is Australia’s largest locally owned media company spanning TV, radio, streaming, digital and traditional print mastheads. From The Australian Financial Review, Married at First Sight to streaming service Stan, viewers and readers rely on Nine across news, sport, lifestyle, and entertainment.

In the fast-moving media space, their digital and streaming portfolio comes with a diverse set of technological needs and engineering challenges. Fastly’s digital publishing capabilities are key to Nine’s time-sensitive media delivery to over 12 million readers across its mastheads and digital platforms.

Nine
Industry: Media
Location: Sydney, Australia
Customer since: 2017

Favorite features
CDN
Terraform Integration
Serve Stale
Infrasturcutre as Code

Nine and Fastly partnership refreshes media in milliseconds as peak media drives 50%+ subscriber boost

Modern media is experiencing its own digital transformation as companies like Nine adapt to exponential media demand.

Speed is the fiercest battleground for the world’s leading publishers; the faster your media moves directly correlates to audience, conversion, and ad revenue. From real-time journalism to reliable streaming, up-to-date content is mission critical for Nine — to get there first and fast. Being first demands a powerful, programmable, secure CDN — and IT partnerships marked by a shared approach to innovative engineering.

Fastly’s edge cloud platform supports Nine’s publishing speed — using features like instant configuration, serving stale, and shielding — and ability to scale at pace to meet a 50% spike in users and subscribers since the start of 2020.

As speed becomes the key battleground for eyes and ears on content, moving faster without sacrificing quality or blowing out costs is on every publisher’s mind — and demands an innovative engineering approach brought to life with the right partners.

“When you strip everything back, it's how quickly you can get a user, at the point they click or load the site, a page of content that they want to consume and engage with. Fastly supports the beating heart of what we do; ensuring our content is current, accurate and timely.” Damian Cronan
Chief Information & Technology Officer

Early adopters driven by agile performance

Nine recognised early that in an industry running on legacy CDNs, getting there faster was a real market differentiator. With a heavy engineering focus, they were already rethinking their traditional CDN to get access to source code management when Fastly became available in the Australian market.

Publishing is agile, often with a need to solve problems in short time spans. Without access to code it’s difficult to test, repeat, and manage the change cycle. Nine needed a CDN that fit with their modern CI/CD approach. They wanted to manage configuration through normal source code management, allowing for a rapid change cycle that’s trustworthy and flexible. Fastly offered just that.

Switching also unlocked Fastly’s Terraform integration, which empowers infrastructure as code (IaC). Nine can manage and provision infrastructure through code instead of manual processes. For example, IaC creating sub-second configuration changes was a “real game changer” for publishing speed.

“You can’t buy publishing systems at scale, so we’re a very engineering-focused organisation. Our engineers wanted Fastly’s tools to support the way they operated. Fastly’s engineering roots, and some quite authentic conversations with the engineering management team, gave us a good deal of confidence that they could do that.” Damian Cronan
Chief Information & Technology Officer

The bread and butter of media

Time to load and control over content are key for Nine, so a legacy CDN without access to instant configuration was unsustainable.

Nine serves media where headlines change daily with a “lazy model,” and sets sub-30 second TTLs for homepages where content expires quickly. It’s crucial that Nine is reliably first with new information, and retains control to edit or delete news or information.

Fastly features for flawless media

Through the Fastly and Nine partnership, a range of features have supported the goal of engaging users with faster media. People have short attention spans for media consumption — Nine sees an exponential dropoff if page loads take more than a second.

Digital publishing with Fastly’s edge cloud platform helps get a page render in front of the user fast. The user sees key page elements, there’s no perception issue, and the system buys valuable milliseconds to deliver real-time content.

Serving stale plays a key role in fast content. If Nine’s origin servers are down or running slow, Fastly serves content to users from the cache — even if it's slightly ‘stale’ compared to usual refresh times. User experience remains seamless, and uptime gets a boost from less origin traffic.

Fastly’s shielding model enables Nine to nominate a mid-tier point-of-presence (POP) to funnel traffic spikes closer to their origin. In a geographically dispersed country like Australia, the shielding model saves infrastructure costs, delivers reliable uptime, and empowers faster experiences — and helps to keep cache hit ratios (CHRs) at 85% with a short TTL.

Pliable programming

Nine engineers love the pliability of Fastly and using VCL to script use cases and circumstances, even marrying two backend services as a single front-end service. Flexible code can be tested, validated, and deployed with relative ease if a specific section of a website needs to be served under a different underlying service.

Logging as IP protection

Nine takes all logs, not only samples. So when there’s a threat to security or IP, Nine can understand behavior across sites and feed security tools and downstream services to protect IP and revenue. When nefarious services scrape stories from behind the paywall and bypass IP-based blocking, Nine can track and use the logline to identify and block the full range of IPs they’re using.

A rich core product ripe for testing speed limits at edge

Nine keeps investing in Fastly thanks to the engineering partnerships driving market-leading performance, and for its uncomplicated setup and rich core product.

Getting faster is always on Nine’s radar, which means pushing more logic to the edge of the network via edge computing. Nine looks to Fastly as the market leader in WebAssembly on the edge, particularly for use cases relating to low-latency, edge base calculations.

“The way Fastly manages its cache gives us reliability that our headlines are accurate and up to date, and that we can take content down on a legal basis or because the story has evolved. Fastly protects our origin and takes unexpected shifts in traffic patterns when we have peak breaking events. Being able to do that without cold content on the edge … that is the bread and butter of media.” Damian Cronan
Chief Information & Technology Officer
“Fastly was a great opportunity to reset the model, to rebuild our publishing platform from a blank slate in a well-managed and documented CICD pipeline.” Damian Cronan
Chief Information & Technology Officer