Hoping to land the next 'Lost,' nets scour new dramas

SYDNEY — With most free-to-air networks locked into output deals with the major U.S. studios, the L.A. Screenings allow Oz buyers to see what will end up on their dials and those of the competition for the year ahead.

Seven programming topper Tim Worner says the Screenings offer a great chance to actually view programming instead of just chatting about it.

“Cannes (Mip) is a place for talking about shows and saying you are interested, but the pace is so hectic there you don’t have a chance to watch very much,” he explains.

While looking at the entire programming lineup from all suppliers, Worner says he’ll be closely examining product from Disney, which delivered Seven hits “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives.”

Ten program topper David Mott says he thinks most of the nets are on the hunt for hourlong skeins and is particularly interested in series that step away from cops and robbers.

“We are certainly looking for the high-end drama and hope there’s more than just crime,” says Mott. “We’re sensing there will be more diversity this year, a real mixed genre bag.” Mott adds that Ten also will be looking beyond its output deals with CBS Paramount and NBC Universal.

“You analyze the spot buys that are available and talk to some of the smaller networks like E! and MTV — channels not locked into any deals — and there are normally some gems that come out of those,” Mott says.

On the pay TV front, Foxtel TV says it will be monitoring what’s in the offing for the paybox operator’s volume deals with 20th Century Fox, Disney and Paramount.

“We’ll be looking with interest at what will be coming available for our market. In particular, we are looking at those shows that are off-network because they are the ones that we are able to buy first off” says marketing topper Brian Walsh.

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