Foxtel’s drama strategy is not a numbers game, “Less is more”

As the dust settled on the 2022 TV Week Logies, the latest Media week podcast spoke with two TV veterans who were in the room.

Brian Walsh has been with foxtel for 27 years and before that he worked as a publicist, including time spent running Channel 10 advertising.

Andre Mercado is a Media week columnist and podcaster who spent time behind and in front of the camera before starting to write on television for The Sunday Telegraph, Television Week and now Media week.

Brian Walsh of Foxtel and Andrew Mercado of Mediaweek

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The podcast covered much more than the Logies, however. The conversation started with Walsh talking about his new Foxtel deal.

“This is the 27th year that I have been involved with Foxtel,” said Brian Walsh Media week. “I was part of the pioneering leadership team in 1995 that launched the service. I joined the company back then as a consultant because I still had my own promotions business.

“For the first 12 months, it was about launching pay TV in the Australian market. At the time, we were competing with Galaxy and Optus Vision. Sam Chisholm [former Foxtel chair, director and consultant] at the time said we had to find a program director. I kept coming back to Sam with names from the industry. He kept asking me to do better and in the end I had no names.

“Eventually he asked me to do it. When I explained that I was a publicist and had never done television programs, Chisholm replied: “Don’t worry, there is no lots of people watching, so if you make a mistake, no one will notice.”

“For most of the past 27 years, I have been responsible for much of Foxtel’s programming, promotions, advertising and marketing. All these years I was a consultant and I was never employed. The workload was so overwhelming that I never had a chance to do the other things I love to do.

“As I enter this chapter of my career, I thought it was time to spread my wings and do other things. The directors, management team and owner of Foxtel have been amazing and understood it.

“I have signed a new contract with the company to continue doing what I love – telling Aussie stories. In due time I will be able to branch out into the entertainment industry and do a few other things.

Foxtel Originals: the plan

When asked if Walsh was now purely a theater manager, he replied, “You could say my whole life has been a drama. [Laughs]

“It’s a lot of storylines – drama and comedy are what I’m going to focus on.

” The arrival [Foxtel executive head of entertainment] Marshal Heald will assume responsibility for all entertainment and original unscripted productions. That’s what he did so brilliantly at SBS and he’s a great addition to the team.

Will Foxtel compete with other streaming platforms?

“Previously, my mission was cable and satellite. What [Foxtel CEO] Patrick Delany wanted me to do was to take responsibility for the drama in all of our activities. In this new role, I am responsible for all orders for Binge, for Foxtel and we can even do some orders for Kayo.

“Australians are embracing the kind of drama we produce. The [Foxtel] the company has been challenged over the past five years, but we have reached a milestone. Entering the streaming space has made a huge difference for Foxtel. We now reach nearly 5 million subscribers on our platforms. Whether it’s a significant number of customers to serve and they absolutely embrace the idea of ​​having a great drama to watch.

Streaming TV

HBO dramas like Game of Thrones have been key to Foxtel’s premium drama offering

“Each [streaming] platform has its own idea of ​​how it wants to be seen in the market. We have always been proud that our dramas are premium. We believe that our customers embrace the best television in the world. We have [drama] from the BBC, from HBO. Our Aussie dramas have to be of that quality because of the other shows they watch.

“While we don’t have the quantity that some of these other platforms might have, we do have the quality. Ultimately, I believe that we serve our customers who pay for service and deserve the highest quality.

“I prescribe to the theory that less is more. I prefer to make high quality, memorable, loud and cut custom originals. Programs that keep the value equations very strong for our customers. »

Don’t Mention TV Week Logics

Although the Logies of the TV Week rated Nine well, it was a long, long show and there were discussions about the quality of the Neighbors tribute.

Andrew Mercado: “The Logies have been lucky this year with the audiences. They were probably because it hadn’t been lit for a few years. I would hate to think the producers would use that to think they could do the same thing for four hours again next year.

“Four hours is a very long time to watch on a Sunday night. The opening was flat. The Logies need a bomb in terms of production. When Andrew Deton arrived as a host all those years ago The Logies suddenly became a cool show to watch again. This is what the Logies need now.

Mercado then asked Walsh what he would change if Foxtel was Logies’ broadcaster.


Foxtel promises a fitting tribute to Neighbors at the 2022 AACTA Awards event

Walsh responded by explaining, “Foxtel is the title sponsor of AACTA. We have an opportunity in December this year with the AACTA Awards to present to Australia and an awards show that will raise the bar. It will encompass all the ways Australians consume entertainment.

“Les Logies is a celebration of free-to-air television. It is fine as long as we understand this. This year, I didn’t think it included Paramount+, Disney+, Stan, Foxtel, Binge, Kayo, or the other streaming services Australians watch. It was very old fashioned to me.

“It was a wake-up call that we need to do something to improve the writing of these shows. I agree the opening was very flat and there were a lot of very flat moments. He seems to have lost its spontaneity.

“I applaud Nine for supporting the event the way they do. It would have cost them a lot of money, but the show seems to have lost its relevance.”

The tribute of the neighbors of Logies

Walsh: “It was a big disappointment because we had so many actors in the room. What would it take to let them come on stage to have their moment.

“At the AACTA Awards, we will strive to give Neighbors the farewell he richly deserves.

Last day of filming at Neighbors

Market: “The Neighbors the actors have every right to be upset. They were asked to arrive on the red carpet first and then wait about two hours for everyone to arrive. They were finally seated at the very back of the room behind two cameras and they couldn’t even see what was going on.

“It was an absolute disgrace. This bundle of clips was one of the laziest Neighbors tributes. It was shameful the way he was treated after 37 years.

Top image: The Foxtel drama Love me and main cast members Hugo Weaving, Logie winner Heather Mitchell and Shalom Brune-Franklin