Newly installed CEO of Shine America, Rich Ross, has hailed scripted content as the future of television, stressing the production house’s new focus on drama development.
Ross, who joined Elisabeth Murdoch’s production company from the role of chairman at Walt Disney Studios last October, shared these views with an audience of hundreds at the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) Conference yesterday.
Shine is responsible for creating the globally successful reality formats, MasterChef and The Biggest Loser.
It also created US comedy Ugly Betty and adapted the The Office for American audiences.
“Not long ago there were a limited number of buyers for scripted fare… Now there is a very diverse and deep group in both the US and around the world – broadcast networks, pay channels, basic cable outlets, satellite operators, pure digital players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Now in the US there are 29 different buyers of drama programming vs just 16 in 2007 – nearly double,” said Ross.
“There are 45% more dramas are being commissioned in the US versus just five years ago. So setting our sites on scripted programming seems like the natural path for us at Shine America.”
Ross’ first major project as CEO has been to oversee the development of The Bridge – Shine’s new US crime drama series adapted from a Danish/Swedish hit called Broen/Bron.
The series stars film actress Diane Kruger and charts crime which straddles the US/Mexian border. It will debut on FX in the US in July.
"We aggressively sought best talent for this series,” said Ross, pointing to the hire of Meredith Stiehm, writer of Homeland, and Elwood Reid of Hawiai Five-O.
He also stressed the enduring importance of content in a world which is front-flipping technologically.
He pointed to a media landscape where digital is progressing at lightning speed, where viewers rarely watch programming scheduled on TV because they want to watch it all at once. A world where audiences “View YouTube as much as networks Seven Nine and Ten”.
“This begs the question. What is the world coming to? The world we once lived in was how to aggregate programming on channels like ours. These days are slipping away.
“Though much has changed in our industry, content remains the sole constant. Content is the global currency, content is your identity, your brand, your access to connecting with your audience,” he said.
Thanks to pay TV channels, he said, “There is amass proliferation of diverse high quality programming availably globally and the appetite for content has never been more voracious.”
For more with Rich Ross, don't miss next week's The Brief where he speaks to Maddie Ross about the future of the reality genre, the challenges of tent-pole programming in a multi-platform world and the potential of brand-funded content.