Here are just some of the comments in the feedback from participants at Screenworks Meet the Networks event in Byron Bay on Friday February 27.

  • “The guest speakers were so candid and generous in sharing information”
  • “It was great to meet the Network execs and decision makers, I loved that they were so open…”
  • “This helped me understand what I need to prepare when pitching to a network”
  • “…such current industry information which will help me develop material and prepare pitches”
  • “This has de mystified the process for me”

Following is an excerpt from each of the guest speakers’ presentations.

Jim Buchan – General Manager Factual, Foxtel

IMG_0114Jim explained out how important it is that when approaching Foxtel that you approach the right channel. Do your research beforehand – you need know all the channels, what they are currently broadcasting and where your program could fit in the mix.

Foxtel has 33 channels, each with a clearly defined audience. They fall into the categories of:

  • General Entertainment
  • Lifestyle
  • Factual
  • Drama
  • Music

Below is an audience overview of each channel discussed at the event:

CI_LOGOCi Audience:

Target Demo Primary: Women 25-54

Target Demo Secondary: People 16-39

Ci attracts a predominantly older female core audience who respond to stories of morality. Attracted to the impulses and emotions that proceed and follow crime.

history_pacificHistory Channel Audience:

Target Demo Primary: Men 40+

Target Demo Secondary: People 25-54

A predominantly older male audience. The history viewer is interested in how the world is and how it has come to be. Broad subjects of meaningful relevance to mankind and Australia as a nation.

A&E_Network_(Australia)_logo.svgA&E Audience:

Target Demo Primary: Men 25-49

Target Demo Secondary: People 25-40

A psychographic ‘attitude’ brand.

bio logoBio Audience:

Target Demo Primary: Women 35+

Target Demo Secondary: People 35+

showcase-mono-blackShowcase Audience:

Confident and self sufficient, our audience pride themselves on having finer TV viewing palette. They watch TV to stay challenged, engaged and always at the forefront of the conversation on premium drama. They are interested in quality, award winning, cinematic television.

  • Diverse and Discerning
  • Lovers of challenging, premium quality drama
  • Gender neutral 25+ with a slight male skew

Key Local Productions: Devil’s Playground, Deadline Gallipoli

soho-lightbgSoHo Audience:

SoHo’s audience comes from a broad demographic who love powerful storytelling and value frequent escapes from the real world. Whilst TV drama can skew female, SoHo is for everyone who enjoys quality narrative storytelling made for TV.

  • Diverse and Discerning
  • Pop TV
  • Lovers of great quality, feel good drama
  • Female 35+

Key Local Productions: Wentworth, A Place to Call Home, The Kettering Incident

The Foxtel Pitch Process:

  • Do your research
  • Know our channels
  • Know your audience

When pitching, please be clear and provide a short Synopsis (no scripts) which gives us a an understanding of your project.

Send scripted pitches to: [email protected]

Rick Maier – Head of Drama, Network Ten

IMG_0115Rick explained that there are simple, logical, observations you should be making before you take your idea anywhere.

Know who Ten is before you consider pitching to them. Look at what’s being programmed on Ten. When pitching a program, visualise the audience – is it a Ten audience?

Rick asked attendees to close our eyes and imagine – if each of the Networks were throwing a party, who would be at the party, what sort of music, what would they be wearing, where would the party be – would it be the same sort of party for each network?

This was to demonstrate that the style of programing and audience demographic is very different for each of the FTA networks

Ten is the youngest audience out of all the networks – the mean viewing age for each of the networks is shown below:

  • ABC 64
  • Seven 49
  • Nine 47
  • Ten 43

When pitching, think about what’s the thing about your idea that compels people to watch it? What constitutes “must watch”?

Network Ten looks for ‘noisy’ shows – programs that everyone is talking about, social inclusion compels people to watch, they want to be part of the conversation in their work or social environment.

Ten’s recent commissions include:

  • I’m a Celebrity
  • Googlebox
  • Shark tank

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.51.22 pmThink of a traditional news program – Network Ten has The Project. Think of lifestyle shows like Better Homes and Gardens – Network Ten has The Living Room.

Rick talked us through Ten’s drama commissions in the last 8 years explaining the key reasons why each of these programs were commissioned and how they have done for Ten

The Network Ten Pitch Process:

Drama – needs to be writer driven. Will be looking at who the writer is, what experience they have had and if a relatively new writer, will look at their writing style and the production team they are working with.

Matt Scully – Commissioning Editor Factual, ABC TV

Matt talked about the general direction with this new team – at a time when funding is under pressure, there’s never been more competition for eyeballs – presenting both challenges and opportunities for the sector.

  • We’re looking for creative treatments that “start strong and stay strong” to keep audiences watching.
  • While there are many great shows coming from ABC Factual, we have room to improve.
  • We’re not seeing enough really big ideas – ideas for shows that can create a nation-stopping event or are compelling enough to warrant multiple returning series.
  • We want to produce more hours of Factual. But Australian documentary is expensive by world standards. The ABC and funding bodies need to find ways to stretch our money further.
  • We are an anglo industry that spend too much time telling our own stories to each other. We are committed to on-screen diversity as an audience strategy.
  • ABC iview presents great opportunities for producers to find younger audiences and experiment with form, budget and genre.

Kids content is now emerging as a major battleground for the big Video On Demand. In Australia, Netflix, Presto and Stan have already been competing heavily for ABC acquisitions (a boon for ABC Commercial) and are looking at flagship children’s commissions as well. The ABC is the dominant player in kids TV and they intend to stay in that position.

IMG_0111Drama content costing more with our actors costing more as a result of overseas demand. The ABC and all Australian drama producers are having to make tight budgets go further.

The ABCs unique Australian content is a source of competitive advantage.  ABC viewers search out programs they want to watch and no longer take what we give them.

The ABC still aims to build a lifelong connection with our audience through distinct and diverse Australian content on all their screens. We do that by delivering uniquely Australian content.

ABC iview presents great opportunities for producers to find younger audiences and experiment with form, budget and genre.

IT COMES DOWN TO CONTENT – What does your idea say about us as Australian’s now? Why are we making this program now?

The excellent drama Gods of Wheat Street which is of and from Northern NSW is a great example of something that resonates with contemporary Australia.

If you can’t imagine the on-air promo, it’s a problem. It’s a matter of collapsing the complexity into a quickly grasped premise.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 2.54.52 pmABC actively seek geographic diversity – looking for more programs from outside Sydney and Melbourne.

Looking for programs with a thesis, an idea that then follows through with great storytelling.

It’s entertainment with a firm foundation of journalism. The Check Out with the Chaser boys is a great example of consumer journalism packed in a fun format.

We’d love to find the next long running studio based show to replace Spicks and Specks. It was relatively inexpensive to make but hugely popular with our viewers.

Arts will be looking for 1 hour docs in a new strand starting in 2016 – commissioning 5 each year connected by a contemporary theme.  The Ghery Effect is a documentary on Frank Ghery’s first Australian building on the UTS campus in Sydney. They are also interested in ½ hours despite the 10pm strand disappearing.

Later this year, there will be a dedicated iView arts channel which will have a modest commissioning budget. It will feature original series.

ABC are looking for longer running and returnable shows – series – big brands for the schedule, and are also looking to build more factual faces on the ABC to capture experiences for the viewers. Eg. Todd Sampson’ with Redesign My Brain.

Screenworks’ board and staff would like to thank all of the Meet the Network guest speakers, in addition to Cate McQuillen for facilitating the panel discussion and hosting a round table discussion. We would also like to thank Lois Randall for co-hosting a round table with Cate McQuillen and to our two volunteers that helped with the event – Lee Rickwood and Susie Forster.

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