Aussie A&E on reality spree

MIP 2012

With the Australian launch of nonfiction entertainment channel A&E in February, pay TV platform Foxtel’s head of factual entertainment Jim Buchan is looking for unscripted reality skeins centered on jobs in the current market.

“We’re stocking up this channel, and it’s great because I can pursue this content where previously it wasn’t on my radar — so I hope there is lots of it,” Buchan says.

“We’re still very discerning, but I would say look at ‘Pawn Stars,’ ‘Storage Wars,’ ‘Ice Road Truckers,’ and think in those terms. That’s the new watermark for us.”

A&E launched on Foxtel on Feb. 16 with local skein “Mega Truckers,” which follows the team from Heavy Haulage Australia driving some of the world’s largest and heaviest loads across some unforgiving country.

Buchan thinks “Mega Truckers” will be a good fit with A&E Down Under and hopes it may also travel overseas — an idea supported by Sean Cohan, senior VP of international for A&E Networks.

“I can see a ‘Mega Truckers’ playing across our global network, and we have started to do that more over the last six months,” says Cohan, something he believes helps reinvigorate the A&E brand in new markets.

“At each market, I would say the brand is tweaked, and one of the main ways it gets reinterpreted is through local content,” he says. “Otherwise the look and the feel of the brand is very similar: not very glossy, not very polished, very raw and very real. We’re trying to bring those brand values to light in the look, as well as in the content.”

Buchan points out another change in the local A&E: “There will be no drama on it (as opposed to) the U.S. A&E. However, for us it is defined as an attitude brand.”

He believes it will sit apart from the other three A&E channels already on the paybox — Crime and Investigation, Bio and History — in that it will skew younger and should be a natural fit.

“It plays like a general entertainment channel, so it shouldn’t cannibalize factual audience share,” Buchan says.

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