I often get a look of shock and horror from my US colleagues and friends when I reminisce about the 5 Free TV channels we had in Australia during my childhood, and in fact, most of my life. No, I’m not 100 years old (though I often feel like it) and weren’t from a remote outback cattle station desperate for entertainment. That was the merely the reality of the Australia television industry up until 1995 when Foxtel entered the market with the countries first Pay TV platform with an amazing 20 channels. At the time, take-up of the new platform was slow and they’re offering of 1970’s US sitcoms barely justified the high price so most household entertainment needs relied on the 3 commercial networks, 2 public stations and VHS videos from Blockbuster.
Added to this, like in many territories throughout the world, audiences are demanding content they can relate too. Which means that Australians want to see Australians on TV – so local productions (or adaptations of international formats) generally do better than finished content. Although, there is still room for great international finish content we have to be diligent in our evaluation of new projects to ensure that they are the right cultural fit for our clients and their audiences. And from a format perspective, we need to ensure that we have a catalogue of quality concepts and ideas that not only fit the culture but can also be cost-effectively adapted to the local territory.
My bias aside, Australia is a great market and it’s certainly a privilege to be able to work at GRB Entertainment while continuing to be part of an exciting and developing television landscape.