Brian Walsh takes aim at Nine over launch of 9Life as Foxtel unveils its 2016 lineup

Brian Walsh


Foxtel’s content chief has taken the opportunity of their 2016 media call to take a shot at rival Nine Entertainment over its decision to launch a new lifestyle focused channel, 9Life.

Speaking to Mumbrella executive director of television at Foxtel Brian Walsh took aim at the company behind much of the 9Life channel content saying: “Over a number of years we have assessed the Scripps product and walked away. I’m not being critical of Scripps, they are very successful at what they do in the United States but it is our view that that lifestyle content for an American audience won’t resonate with an Australian audience.

“It’s the way as a nation we are. We have a great affection for British lifestyle content and I can talk to you about many examples of that – Grand Design, the Great Bake Off etc. But we have adapted those shows for Australia. 

“We have also broadcast the original British versions of those shows and they do well but we are not of the view that American lifestyle content necessarily resonates in the way British does.”

The declaration came as the pay-TV operator trumpeted the return of Australian dramas Wentworth and A Place to Call Home along with new productions The Secret City starring Jacki Weaver and The Kettering Incident, starring Elizabeth Debicki and Matthew Le Nevez, amongst its 2016 lineup.

The Kettering Incident is an eight part mystery thriller which was first trumpeted at last year’s presentations.

Matthew LeNevez

Matthew LeNevez in Kettering Incident

Asked about the delay in programming the drama Walsh said: “We pushed it back to 2016 and it was a seasonal decision. It was never going to be delivered for us until August and we had it set to go to air in October but when I saw it I thought this is not a show to run in October/November – it is a winter show.

“It is set in Tasmania, it is a gripping compelling drama series that is suited to a winter viewing experience.”

In addition to A Place to Call Home and Wenthworth other shows that will return in 2016 include: Australia’s Next Top Model, The Real Housewives of Melbourne, The Recruit, Crimes That Shook Australia, Coast, The Great Australian Bake Off, Gogglebox Australia, Selling Houses Australia, Grand Designs Australia and River Cottage Australia.

Speaking more broadly Walsh touted the success of Australian dramas Wentworth and A Place to Call Home, both of which will return in 2016, saying: “It is rare for any broadcasters to have two successful ongoing drama series.

Place to Call Home

Cast of A Place To Call Home.

Walsh added he was pleased that A Place to Call Home, which was recommissioned after Seven axed the drama, was building audiences since its return a few weeks ago .

“It is beyond our expectations,” he said. “That show is achieving dramatically beyond what we had anticipated.

“The reason we did the show was because they had quite a love of the show on the Seven Network and in commercial times we knew we might be able to attract a whole lot of new subscribers to come across for that show.

“It is very rare to launch a drama and have it build its audience.”

showcase_SecretCity_JackiWeaver (1)

Jacki Weaver is set to star in Secret City

Walsh also touted Secret City, a political thriller based on the fiction books of journalists Chris Ullmann and Steve Lewis and staring two time Academy Award nominee Weaver.

“It speaks very much to the way we are moving forward on drama,” he said. “We have done a lot of work with Australian agents and Australian talent who have reached international success and we have been able to bring Jacki Weaver back to star in show and my ambition is to bring more Australians back to do limited edition drama series – Secret City is another step in that direction.”

On the topic the increased competition from streaming players Netflix, Stan and Foxtel’s own Presto, Walsh said he was relaxed about it and he believed they had the right content deals to secure their future.

“We have always had competition,” he said.”

“What has happened simply is that competition has shifted as the free-to-air networks have moved away from scripted programming and international drama. There are players now like Netflix, Stan and Presto offering that content – Seven Nine and Ten have just been replaced by Presto, Stan and Netflix.

“It is crucial to have the right distributors and have the marquee product. It is essential that is why I am so pleased we went and signed HBO, BBC and AMC. That’s whats important, to have the shows that people value.”

Nine declined to be drawn on Walsh’s remarks about 9Life.

Nic Christensen


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