Success leaves Oz hungry for more

Australia

SYDNEY — With two strong breakout local drama hits — Seven’s “City Homicide” and Nine’s “Sea Patrol” — local drama programming is back in the spotlight Down Under.

“There has been a major swing back to Australian programming — the list of top-20 programs in Australia is now consistently about 75% Australian,” says Seven Network programming topper Tim Worner. “That’s why for us these trips (to Mipcom) are more and more about keeping your development slate robust and energetic.”

Worner says the web, which is on track to win this year’s annual ratings tussle with Nine for the first time in two decades, is looking to fill its 7:30 p.m. slot and would love a good laffer or family-friendly skein.

“Seven has had a lot of success with observational documentary series like ‘Border Security’ and ‘RSPCA Animal Rescue,’ ” he says. “The others have cottoned on to this a bit, so we’ll be starting to look at what might be next.”

Younger-skewing Network Ten lacks Nine and Seven’s big local hits so far but says that homegrown drama is important to it.

“We are in the market for co-production in terms of drama,” says Ten head of programming Beverly McGarvey. “We are in very active development with three or four drama projects, but we will always be on the outlook for others.”

Ten recently revamped its sudser “Neighbours,” which launched to good numbers but has since plateaued. McGarvey says Ten “will continue to pay a lot of attention to it because it’s important for us.”

She adds that Ten is looking for half-hour or one-hour skeins to fill its early evening sked, but that one surprise success has been a bump in the aud for “The Simpsons.”

“The movie has brought back some lapsed viewers who remember how funny it was,” McGarvey says.

Stateside dramas continue to provide stable draws for the three commercial webs, with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Ugly Betty” for Seven, “House” and “NCIS” for Ten and the “CSI” franchise for Nine all performing.

TOP 3

1. Sea Patrol (Nine)

2. Dancing With the Stars (Seven)

3. Border Security (Seven)

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