What’s next for Australia’s most successful television producers?

Endemol Shine Australia

• New start-up for Mark & Carl? Will Endemol Shine merge with Screentime?

The news that Mark and Carl Fennessy are departing Endemol Shine Australia has not been a surprise to the television industry. There has been speculation about what Australia’s most successful producers would do next ever since Elisabeth Murdoch sold the Shine production business to 21st Century Fox back in 2011.

As part of their deal when the Fennessy brothers launched Shine Australia with Murdoch back in 2009, they had equity in the business. Shine Australia was formally launched at select gatherings in January 2010 at the Opera House where Murdoch and the brothers briefed the industry about their plans.

After the 21st Century Fox sale there was speculation then as to whether Mark and Carl would use some of the funds from that payday to start up a new production business.

That didn’t happen and they stayed on running the new business which eventually became Endemol Shine Australia after Fox merged the business with the private equity owner of Endemol in 2014.

They were going to depart in 2015 as Endemol Shine Australia launched, but after negotiations they stayed on to run that business successfully.

Nearly 12 months ago French production business the Banijay group signed a deal to acquire Endemol Shine and the ramifications have been playing out across the production world this year as the company roles out its strategy for integrating the two businesses.

For the time being at least it seems both Endemol Shine Australia and Banijay-owned Screentime Australia will continue on as separate entities, but for how long?

The Fennessy brothers are about as hot a property as you can have in the TV business. The news they are leaving the production company that all three Australian FTA broadcasters depend on would be cause for concern. Except for the fact they leave the business in the very capable hands of Peter Newman who has been working alongside Mark and Carl for the past eight years as chief content officer.

Although the Fennessy brothers commented yesterday they were looking forward to a “much-needed break”, they also pointed out they are ready “for the next adventure”.

See also: Mark and Carl Fennessy depart Endemol Shine Australia, Peter Newman takes over

Mark and Carl would be an asset as part of the executive team at Seven (which had been contemplating appointing a chief content officer) or Network 10 in particular, but it is hard to imagine them ready to work for someone else. Running their own show seems much more likely.

Arguably Mark and Carl’s single biggest success in Australia has been overhauling the MasterChef format which was stripped five nights a week – a format that was then exported around the world.

The list of other successes is long and as recently as last week Nine was detailing how much of its 2021 will be reliant on programming coming from Endemol Shine Australia including Married At First Sight, Lego Masters, Beauty and the Geek and Australian Ninja Warrior.

Network 10 has seemed to be almost on a drip feed from Endemol Shine Australia for some time with hit programming including Australian Survivor, MasterChef Australia and Gogglebox.

Seven has been less reliant on outside productions over the years, but they succumbed this year too and had success with the return of Big Brother to the market.

While Mark and Carl Fennessy have owned the 7.30pm slot for all networks, they have plenty of scripted success too including Lambs of God, Wake in Fright, Blue Murder: Killer Cop, INXS: Never Tear Us Apart, Catching Milat, Pete Allen: Not The Boy Next Door and Mystify with Richard Lowenstein.

Top Photo: Carl (left) and Mark Fennessy

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