SYDNEY — There’s a crime wave on Oz TV thanks to the popular second season of Nine’s gangster drama “Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities.”
Skein, which was hastily assembled after the runaway success of last year’s original “Underbelly” — about a 10-year war in Melbourne’s underworld — has been one of the biggest hits of 2009. “Two Cities” is a prequel focusing on the 1970s and has played to big auds once again.
Stateside crime has always gone down well Down Under, but the local drama resurgence, including Seven’s “City Homicide,” has also spilled into other areas of programming.
“We’ve also had great success with crime factual ‘Gangs of Oz’ at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesdays,” says Angus Ross, head of scheduling and acquisitions at ratings winner Seven. “It’s winning its timeslot for all key demographics.”
Ross notes the Alphabet’s “Criminal Minds” also is playing well and that Seven’s slate of Australian-made reality skeins (“Border Security” and “RSPCA Animal Rescue”) continues to perform strongly.
Over at multicultural pubcaster SBS, it’s Danish crime series such as “Unit One” and “The Eagle” that have been driving ratings for the niche web. Network programmer Jane Roscoe says she would like “to broaden that out” by shopping for crime dramas from other territories.
SBS also is on the lookout for edgy English-language dramas such as Blighty’s “Shameless,” which is a hit on the network.
“We are also looking for shows in the food and lifestyle zone, but not straight cooking,” in addition to travel skeins that explore economic and social issues, Roscoe adds.
While Ten has a hit on its hands with the local version of “So You Think You Can Dance,” it’s not the only Oz web with formats on its mind.
Says Seven’s Ross: “We are on the lookout for more factual programming, comedy and formats that have flexible scheduling options — all targeted at people 25-54.”