Production sector welcomes SVOD commissions

SVOD and the local production sector: Jungleboys make No Activity for Stan, while CJZ’s Nick Murray looks to the future for production houses

By James Manning

The SVOD platform Stan has been previewing scenes from its first local commission No Activity to media and introducing key members of the cast ahead of its launch. Made by Jungleboys, and featuring many of their regular cast members, the series is to premiere on Stan in November this year.

No Activity will be the first locally produced series commissioned by an SVOD platform. The first local commission on Presto will be the Home and Away special event which was announced recently and is expected to run after the series breaks for the summer at the end of the year.

Although local producers are excited by new players looking for local content, they realise there is unlikely to be a flood of locally made programs being used to lure new subscribers.

As NEC chief executive David Gyngell explained to Mediaweek, Stan is looking to commission a new Australian production to be released every three months.

You don’t have to be Einstein to see
there is demand post-9.30pm and everywhere
else in the world that is being exploited.”

CJZ co-founder and managing director Nick Murray told Mediaweek producers are still coming to grips with what might appeal to platforms like Stan. “Producers need to be thinking about what the show is and who is the potential audience. If people like Netflix are not after local content you start asking yourself what could we pitch them.”

Murray said most money spent by broadcasters in Australia is spent with thoughts only about attracting an audience in Australia. “There might be some secondary markets for many of the shows being made, but it is not why any of those shows are being made.”

SVOD commissions, and also some FTA broadcasters internationally, are now starting to give production houses longer commissions. Murray was at the Edinburgh Television Festival last week where there was talk about longer series. There was speculation that the BBC has ordered five more years of Poldark while Netflix recently commissioned The Crown to cover the life of Queen Elizabeth II which will run to 60 episodes over six years at a cost over $200m.CJZ’s longest commission in Australia – two years for one of their series.

And asked to comment on David Gyngell’s prediction there will be more late night panel shows soon on Australian TV, Murray said: “I agree. You don’t have to be Einstein to see there is demand post-9.30pm and everywhere else in the world that is being exploited. Late night TV here is largely a dumping ground for output deal content which underserves the audience.”

The most successful of all panel shows in recent times, CJZ’s The Gruen Transer, returns to ABC next week after it last screened here in 2013.

What you don’t want to see is all the same people popping up on everything which does happen here. You also have to make enough episodes to make them cost-efficient. You can’t just make a season of 10 half-hours.”

Photo: Comedian-actor-musician Tim Minchin guest stars in Stan’s No Activity

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