Australia: HD channels hungry for content

Mip Territory Reports

SYDNEY — Aussie buyers will have one of their busiest Mip trips in recent memory, because each of the major webs has launched additional high-definition channels — all of which are hungry for content.

A change in Oz’s media laws prompted the burst in digital dalliances from Seven, Ten and more recently Nine (as well as paybox Foxtel), and that means more slots to fill.

It also means the webs — which are often not that busy at markets due to their heavy reliance on output deals from the U.S. networks — are looking more closely at what else is on offer.

“We’ll definitely be on the hunt for product for both our new channels, so it changes the nature of our approach to the market slightly,” says Seven Network’s Tim Worner. “We’re after volumes of suitable product because license fees, given the current small audiences, are necessarily low.”

Ten’s Beverly McGarvey agrees, saying that she is taking an extra week for this Mip to pursue new content and including a stop in London. She is also looking to fill some early evening slots.

“The output deals tend to suit more of the 8:30 and 9:30 slots, so we are looking at filling 7:30 with things like observational documentaries,” McGarvey says.

One of Ten’s most popular outings is Aussie lifesavers doc “Bondi Rescue,” so the web will be looking for something similarly gripping. Some great auds for the local outing of “So You Think You Can Dance” means formats are also on the shopping list.

Nine Network will see its hot new local crime series “Underbelly” ankle screens in the next few weeks, leaving it with a high-ratings hole at 8:30 midweek. Nine also may be less bullish about its new HD channel, as it only launched in March, but, like the other webs, it will be more active than in previous years.

However, while the new channels may mean more room on the skeds, they are still small fry at this stage.

“Our primary mission remains unchanged,” Worner says. “And that is to bring home the best product and the best ideas for Channel Seven. That is the pumping heart of our media business, and it’s likely to be that way for quite a few years to come.”

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