TV execs defend Australian shows: ‘Quality is in the eye of the beholder’

Television executives from across Australia’s commercial broadcasters have pushed back against the suggestion they need to be bolder and more innovative with their content, saying formats like My Kitchen Rules and Have You Been Paying Attention? continue to reach audiences and get the job done.

At a Think TV Think Tank event in Melbourne, a panel with representatives from Nine, Ten, Seven and MCN was asked by an audience member: “When is Australia going to make quality international TV like Big Little Lies, and pull back some of that great Australian talent to be part of a great Australian program that becomes international? Who will be bold enough to do that?”

Think TV’s Dominic White, Nathan Powell, James Carr, Luke Smith, Nev Hasan

James Carr, head of revenue and analytics for Ten, said the success of Seven’s My Kitchen Rules in international markets and the recent sale of Working Dog’s Have You Been Paying Attention? format proved Australia could compete on the international stage.

“But I guess the truth is, from a content perspective, there’s not that much historically that’s moved up from the bottom of the world and gone up to the big audiences at the top, and I think all of our chief content officers would love to develop stuff that goes up that way, but I think historically a lot of what we do is bought from international organisations such as ITV Studios and Fremantle and Shine and people like that,” he said.

Indeed, according to Nathan Powell, Nine’s director of sales for digital product, Australia has quality programming, we just don’t always acknowledge and appreciate it.

“I’d say quality is in the eye of the beholder as well. And I think one of the unique things that addressability is actually going to be able to provide for us is the data points, the insight to understand what content is important to those audiences who are actually watching it. And we’ve all got examples of that, of how we’re using those insights to create those quality content titles,” he said.

MCN’s director of advanced advertising, Nev Hasan, also defended Foxtel’s record, particularly when it comes to drama.

“I would say Foxtel has been pretty lucky with TV shows like Wentworth. That was Australian produced and has then gone on to be sold globally. I think we’re slightly luckier that we invest so much in content – that we’ll keep doing. I think it’s that trial and error. Like, I think no-one thought Wentworth would literally be sold in, it was some ridiculous number, like 10 different countries, and I think it went back into the UK and they kept lapping that up, and I think that funded the next series of it,” he said.

“You’ve just got to get lucky on certain things. But I think Foxtel still has that – we’re a paid-for service, we’ve got to be investing in content locally. If it gets picked up globally, that’s an added perk for us because it helps on the bottom line.”

Luke Smith, Seven’s head of programmatic sales and audiences, said the market have never been more favourable for Australia to start producing quality content.

“The conditions are right for it, because content is now so important, whether it’s SVOD or BVOD or actual broadcasters who are looking for the content. There’s more and more being traded globally, and the conditions are probably the best ever.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.