The Thing We “Didn’t See Coming”, According To ABC’s Director Of TV

The Thing We “Didn’t See Coming”, According To ABC’s Director Of TV

Television might be being disrupted by Netflix and programmatic, but what about the content? Speaking to a couple of experts, B&T fast learned that TV is nothing without quality content.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

“I think it’s an incredibly exciting era filled with innovation and huge potential for strong storytelling,” SBS director, television and online content Marshall Heald said.

“TV is a great platform to start really big conversations around what it means to be Australian today and TV is the best platform for igniting big national debate around important issues.

“TV is a platform of innovation and it’s constantly trying to find ways to tell stories better. If you look at sport it’s all about how you can attract data into the forecast, how you get umpire cams, how you get improvements in quality.

“In drama, of course, people want to consume more, they want to binge, so on TV you’ll see double episodes, but you’ll also see stacking and catch-up online. In comedy you see shows on TV but a really strong presence across social media.

“In that factual space, you want to engage with show concepts so you’re still seeing TV but you’re seeing strong online companion projects and social projects.”

Heald also added that in the free-to-air TV world, healthy competition is always a good thing for consumers, and ABC director of TV Richard Finlayson tends to agree.

An interesting observation is that, as we’ve added convenience for consumers, it’s created a greater focus on quality, and that was something that we didn’t necessarily see coming,” Finlayson told B&T.

“What FTA TV still has, is the ability to aggregate huge co-viewing moments. We’re seeing all networks who rely on the advertising model move towards content that really has to be watched in the moment.

“Sport is a great example, and reality TV, which takes its cues from drama by using cliff-hangers and story hooks, to encourage viewers to watch live and in the moment.”

And technology isn’t taking away from TV audiences, rather giving.

“ABC iview, along with other VOD players, has not only changed the way we watch TV, but also changed our expectations around the complexity of storytelling, in particular serialised narratives,” he added.

When audiences have the ability to binge on a program, program makers can pack a lot more into story arcs and character development, than when you’re broadcasting a series week to week.

“FTA TV is moving very quickly to try and create deeper relationships with audiences, in particular, by asking audience members to sign in to online services, and using the technology available to make sure we know as much about them as we possibly can.”

Heald said with the way FTA TV is moving, it’s only opening more doors for audiences.

“I think there’s incredible creative opportunities in that now we can come up with a broader range of ideas, which can at one end encompass very long-form kind of narratives, but at the other end very short-form, so I think we can come up with a far richer palette of ideas,” Heald added.

“I think to the extent we’ve got technology existing alongside TV it means we can create far more engaging experiences for people, and finally, hopefully we’ll continue to see a strong growth in content that’s relevant for Australian audiences and really focuses on telling Australian stories.”