Endemol Shine’s Peter Newman has new shows, proven hits and wants streaming quotas

Peter Newman

Producers welcome Total TV: ‘We need to reflect how people consume content’

Peter Newman, the chief executive of Endemol Shine Australia (ESA), has been in the role for 18 months since former co-CEOs Mark and Carl Fennessy departed the business.

Mediaweek recently visited ESA’s Sydney office for the first interview Peter Newman has given since being promoted to the top job.

Australia’s largest producer of proven primetime TV hits had to navigate its way through Covid and find a way to keep the content pipelines open for the FTA networks.

Newman not only had to replace two CEOs at ESA, he has also taken over at the other Banijay-owned local production house, Screentime Australia. Former Screentime CEO Rory Callaghan stepped away from the business last year.

“Last year was extremely challenging,” Newman admitted. “At times it felt like we were running a military operation to keep our shows going, but I am super proud of how the company has handled it. The team and I have been really pleased with the quality of the TV we have been making.”

ESA implemented what Newman called “baseline Covid protocols” in line with government requirements. “We then went a step further and added additional safety measures for every show. Some shows were vastly more complex to navigate around than others.

married at first sight

Married at First Sight 2022 participants

“On Married at First Sight we had to deal with a lot of movement and several locations. The planning in pre-production was immense. On all our shows there has been an amazing team spirit, something that helped us to proceed without losing a production during any of the lockdowns. We managed to deliver everything to the networks on time.

As to the impact of Covid on commissions, Newman pointed to the growth of celebrity shows. “The reason from our perspective is they are easier to cast. At the height of lockdowns it was difficult to do a casting call with the public as some people were unable to even leave their LGAs. It was easier to book celebrities. With restrictions easing, there is a return to normal production.” And maybe less work for celebrities!

“The movement of people throughout Covid has been the biggest challenge for us.”

Changing consumption patterns

“Covid has undoubtedly accelerated the rise of the streaming platforms,” said Newman. “The move for people to choose their own times when they watch content can be seen clearly in the new Total TV data. It is encouraging that is now available because we must reflect better audience viewing culture.

“Overnights are just one part of a much bigger picture. Those numbers might be going down, but we are seeing the rise of BVOD. The conversation around ratings needs to reflect how people are consuming their content.

Peter Newman

Endemol Shine Australia chief executive Peter Newman

New Banijay formats on the way

After 10 years working for Shine and then Endemol Shine in Australia, Newman said their slate this year is “without question the slate I am most excited about.”

In addition to the big returning formats, Neman said: “We also have wonderful documentary and factual series. We are making Old People’s Home for Teenagers this year for ABC. Also the second series of Lost for Words for SBS.

“We also have a raft of new commissions. Things like Hunted for 10, The Bridge for Paramount+ and we have two new shows about to be announced.

“There is still an appetite for new shows. When we have gone out with a new show in recent times we have been rewarded. Things like Lego Masters, and a couple of years before that, Australian Ninja Warrior.

“With so much content on offer, the audience will reward bold decision-making like building Lego in primetime.”

The success of Lego Masters in Australia helped push out the format into many more countries – there are currently around 15 versions being made.

We have a reputation for super-sizing formats and injecting high-level production values. Lego Masters is one of the best examples of that with help from our partners at Nine who were able to persuade Hamish Blake to take part in it.

“It is the Australian version of Lego Masters that is now being made around the world. The US took the show after they had seen our version. The show has also just gone into China.”


The future of drama

Newman believes the change in the quotas during Covid has had an impact on drama development on FTA. “We are still making some though including the new Underbelly: Vanishing Act for Nine and we have a scripted show in the works for Seven later this year.

“At the same time what we are seeing is an increasing appetite for drama from streamers. Paramount+ has been active with local commissions and Stan has been a major player in local drama for some time.

“I would like to see the big streamers do more out of Australia. We have been working with SPA in discussions with government about quotas for streamers. We support that because Australian stories need to be told.

Sara Richardson, our new head of scripted, is building a very exciting diverse slate with both domestic broadcasters and international broadcasters in mind.”

Beat the buzzer

TV in the UK is awash with game shows and quiz shows at all hours, particularly in early primetime slots. Is that a trend being felt here?

Newman: “Game shows and quiz shows are very Covid safe to make. There has always been a big appetite for those formats in the UK, and there is opportunity for them here.”

Newman spoke about the format pipeline from the Banijay group. “One of the really big new shows is Limitless Win which has been a huge success for ITV. It is something we are showing to the broadcasters here.

“We have also just produced a really great series of Would I Lie to You which is my favourite comedy panel show and I was pleased when Beverly McGarvey and 10 commissioned a local version.”

Peter Newman

ITV hit Limitless Win is one of the new formats Peter Newman is talking to local networks about

Building a comedy slate

Peter Newman said the company is looking to be a bigger player in the comedy space after the recent promotion of David McDonald to head of comedy.

“David has worked for us on shows like Gogglebox and Lego Masters and brought that comedic sensibility to those formats. We have talked for some time about doing more in the comedy space. With someone like David driving it we are looking at scripted comedy, sketch and entertainment too.”

Seven launched new Screentime produced SAS this week

You want hit shows – call Endemol Shine Australia

Seven: SAS Australia, Big Brother
Nine: Married at First Sight, Lego Masters, Australian Ninja Warrior, Beauty and the Geek
10: Australian Survivor, MasterChef Australia, Would I Lie to You, Hunted
Foxtel & 10: Gogglebox Australia
ABC: Old People’s Home for Teenagers
SBS: Lost for Words
Paramount +: The Bridge

See also: Endemol Shine Australia’s Peter Newman announces executive promotions to fuel growth

To Top