“On-selling” US titles makes dollars and sense


In recent weeks some readers have expressed disappointment with shows that have started on Free to Air have moved to Pay TV.

This is a trend that has occurred at Nine (Arrow), TEN (The Americans) and Seven (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. -yet to premiere). Over the years there have been many more titles on-sold including The Vampire Diaries, Smash and Gossip Girl.

Nine’s Andrew Backwell this week explained further to TV Tonight in relation to Arrow.

“That was the result of our output deal with Warner Bros. and as part of that deal we had all these programmes, but (a number of them) wouldn’t work on the Nine platform, so we sold them onto Foxtel,” he said.

“Now because we don’t have an output deal we don’t have access to these American programmes and we don’t have to on-sell them. So rather than all that money leaving the country, we’re putting it all into local market to stimulate production.”

Pay TV meanwhile argues that it can commit shows to consistent timeslots and frequently fast-track them for fans.

That just leaves in the middle Free to Air viewers who stuck with the show wondering what they did wrong and, indeed, whether to buy into the next title at all.

TV is a numbers game -doubtless there just weren’t enough of them.


  1. And yet reruns of the early season Arrow have reappeared late night on Nine (not Go!). How do they come up with that brilliant strategy? I’d be happy with late-night first run if they could keep things consistent.

  2. Honestly, this doesn’t really bother me anymore. Murdock will **never** get any of my hard earned (at least, not directly), spoilers do not bother me and I have always been a patient kinda guy, so I can wait 🙂

    While I am little irked at Foxtel’s non-competitive behaviour, but meh, what can a lowly grunt like me do?

  3. carolemorrissey

    It’s a real bugbear of mine. I can’t get foxtel due to financial constraints & have extremely slow internet so watching shows on line is out of the question. If they all do like One have done with The Americans & 7 do with Chicago Fire & show them after they’ve already aired on Foxtel that would be good. I’m hoping 7 will eventually show Chicago PD. They do it with movies, why not TV shows?

  4. Putting a lock on an open cookie jar will upset some cookie lovers. They can go buy their own, pick the lock, wait for the lock to come off when the contents go stale or go on a diet! Whether they read the motto inside the cookie is another matter. The impatient cook was hoping for instant gratification but often the recipe fails.

  5. 7 made a commitment to Heroes reborn by buying it and broadcasting it. OK, so it’s not the biggest show on TV (most aren’t) but I like it and I’d feel more like participating in the advertised products if they kept the faith and showed it all. There were heaps of ads during the show, so I assume there was revenue even though it was on really late. How come Foxtel can make a buck from it and 7 can’t? Why can’t 7 use the extra channels they have to show something that appeals to fans rather than just the same stuff that’s on their other digital channels already? I think the commercial channels show a great contempt for viewers by moving start times and dropping epidodes, effectively preventing us from enjoying a whole series. Advertisers take note: I resent it. As for Foxtel et al, I don’t have the spare readies to subscribe, so I expect a fair deal for the inflated prices we pay…

  6. The way its turned out a lot of my favorites have gone to Foxtel, so I finally relented and got Foxtel in August. Gotta say I’m loving watching The Flash and Arrow fast tracked and in a regular timeslot. I’m only paying $35 a month which is the basic package plus HD. the only one of my shows i don’t get on that is A Place to call Home, which is ok, cause i go and watch that at Mums. Commercial Free to air only seem to be catering for casual tv in the back ground veiweres these days, light stuff and low brow especially Nine. I was a regualar nine viewer maily becasue of their WB content. Now I’ll only be going to nine for new Big Bang and Love Child if there’s a third series.

  7. Timeslot consistency would improve numbers. And perhaps fasttracking to a daytime slot or on a multichannel for true fans of foreign shows, followed by a primetime replay for the bulk of viewers.

  8. No matter which way you put it, its really bad for a free to air network to premiere a show and then sell later seasons to foxtel. Viewers committed to a show on the free to air, unfortunately probably chased it around the schedule and then were duded out of further seasons (you can make it sound nice but they were still duded). This is completely different to a show premiering from the start on foxtel. You may be disappointed to begin with that the show didn’t get aired on free to air but you haven’t committed to it.

    This attitude by some that its ok you just have to pay for future seasons on foxtel or individually is in really poor taste and just nonsense. That’s a really expensive exercise and money doesn’t grow on trees.

    9 simply doesn’t treat viewers with respect.

  9. Nobody has done anything wrong. FTA viewers have no right to watch a copyrighted work for free, especially if they record it and skip the ads. The reason why the show isn’t still on is because not enough people watch it live in primetime and buy the advertiser’s products.

    There are many ways to watch the show, on Foxtel or SVOD, buy (or rent or borrow) the DVD, iTunes. And since networks often only on-sell exclusive first run rights, wait 12 months and watch for free e.g. Chicago Fire, Grimm. As networks tend to sit on eps that don’t rate for nearly 12 months if they don’t on-sell them, not much difference. At least this way those prepared to pay, and unfund the production, to watch it promptly can do so.

    • American shows fail on free to air because they refuse to fast track and then they “pretend” to fast track, they play around with the schedule and viewers get tired of trying to find a show, they air too late sometimes finishing post midnight, they refuse to put the show on a multichannel at a reasonable time at the beginning of a new season, they don’t start dramas at 8.30pm but 8.37pm or seasons disappear and get onsold to foxtel.

      The free to air networks are completely to blame for people watching shows by other means in this country. Maybe if they didn’t treat viewers so poorly for many years than maybe viewers wouldn’t look for alternatives.

      9s new schedule is mostly rubbish. I don’t see them improving when people have so many options for entertainment these days such as netflix, youtube, podcasts, surfing the net.

      • Three weeks is not fast tracking. The FTA Networks treat us like idiots. Homeland and Fargo are the only fair dinkum ‘fast tracks’ the rest they could have mailed from the USA, left them in their inbox for a week and then showed them.

    • I doubt it. The show rates around 2-3 million a week in the US, a country with around 15 times the population of Australia. On those numbers, even if you conservatively said it would rate 1/5 (it would be less) of the US ratings, it would still only be around 400,000 to 600,000. That is not enough for a regular prime time show on 9.

      Fox 8, Go, 11 or streaming is where these types of shows (arrow, flash, super girl, shield etc) belong in this country. They have an audience, but it is not big enough for a traditional free to air network audience.

      I can’t see nine or any free to air network going after these types of shows in the foreseeable future.

      • Whilst I think you’re correct as a general rule, Arrow was doing better numbers than what you suggest it ought to be capable of for Season 1 behind Big Bang Theory. Its numbers obviously dissolved for Season 2 when 9 delayed it for many months, gave it a later timeslot, aired it often in double episodes and shifted it around the schedule – things you apply to many other shows like the Blacklist and How to Get Away with Murder.

        It might’ve worked for them again in Season 2, it might not have but they let it wither on the vine, so nobody has any idea.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.