ABC2 to revisit content, branding.

Exclusive: ABC multichannel is ripe for a rethink later this year, with more "off Broadway" launches.


EXCLUSIVE: ABC is planning to revisit programming and channel branding for its multichannel ABC2 later in the year.

Kids shows screened as part of ABC KIDS have been very successful, even drawing bigger crowds than adult viewing in primetime.

Last week it drew a 3.1% channel share, ahead of 9Life,  GEM, ONE and ELEVEN.

Its top shows were Shaun the Sheep (207,000), Big Ted’s Big Adventure (200,000), Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom (200,000), Peppa Pig (198,000) and Peter Rabbit (183,000).

Amongst the most popular primetime shows were Spicks and Specks (159,000), River Monsters (127,000), Penn & Teller Fool Us (126,000), Bodyshockers: Nips, Tucks and Tattoos (103,000), Louis Theroux’s LA Stories (99,000) and Live at the Apollo (99,000).

But while new local commissions for the channel have slowed, ABC Director of Programming Brendan Dahill is considering tapping into the “off Broadway” opportunities of the multichannel.

“I think last year maybe we went a bit too far in terms of having nothing else on there. Because ABC2 has been a great place to launch new comedy,” he tells TV Tonight.

“Towards the end of last year the new Tom Tilley show (Australians on Porn) was massively successful. For ‘spikey factual’ and new comedy ABC2 is a really vibrant home. It’s a great place to launch things and try things without being in the harsh glare of the spotlight of ABC1.

“So I think we will be revisiting ABC2 and what the content plan for ABC2 is across the course of the year. I think we may also have to revisit the branding around ABC2 as well.”

Shows such as Please Like Me, Dirty Laundry Live, Review with Myles Barlow, Maximum Choppage, twentysomething, Soul Mates, This is Littleton all found a home on ABC2 along with Kitchen Cabinet, Head First, Good Game and Arts specials.

However the channel has also come in for criticism, mostly due to some factual and observational titles from the UK. In December former Treasurer and Nine board member Peter Costello questioned shows such as Twilight of the Porn Stars, Websex: What’s the Harm? and Strippers.

“I think quite a lot of people who said that never watched any of the shows,” Dahill responds.

“Preschool kids stuff finishes at 7 o’clock and then we have Spicks & Specks, Wipe Out or River Monsters or whatever as a pretty good neutral zone and then at 8:30 we’re playing M programs which could play on any network and arguably we are softer than some of the others.

“The shows that attract quite a lot of controversy on ABC2 are all public service shows from Channel 4 and BBC1 and BBC2 that have ‘tabloidy ‘titles that are genuine public service shows, they’ve just got provocative titles. If people watched the shows they just realise that it’s just foxy titles and they get outraged by a title without ever actually watching the show.

“I have more respect for people who watch the shows and didn’t have a problem with it than people who get offended by a title.”

26 Responses

  1. ABC2 is good as is. i dont see the need to change it or re brand it. Personally ABC didnt need to be changed back to ABC Tv ABC1 was fine. Anyway the content on ABC2 is pretty good and those kids shows probably have some adults watching them for the same reason that there are Adult Colouring books available and have been very successful.

  2. “rebrand” – code for we don’t know what the hell we are doing (but new graphics will make us look busy) Fact is the ABC (and SBS) do not need more than one channel. Perhaps ABC2 should focus on regional content but I guess that’s not sexy enough… Literally.

    1. School Aged kids get home between 3:30 and 4:30 so 7pm leaves quite some hours where ABC3 and Go are really the only FTAs offering anything for non-preschool kids to watch.. and not all parents want their kids watching a Warner Brothers ad everyday.

    2. ABC Kids is on ABC2 until 7pm, and it used to be called ABC4KIDS.

      ABC3 is always ABC3 whenever it’s broadcasting, maybe except when it airs a PG rated rage from Sunday to Thursday.

      Before 7pm, ABC Kids. After 7pm, ABC2. Same channel.

  3. The ABC should as an organisation concentrate more on it’s future overall audience relevance especially with the multi-channelling taking place on FTA commercial networks. As a tax payer funded bureaucracy the ABC is run just like any other wasteful commonwealth service, but having said that It could make a good start by better utilising it’s sole HD channel for it’s dwindling library of quality BBC shows and it’s own drama investments.

  4. ABC2 bought them an put them on because of the tabloid headlines, just as SBS and then SBS2 have always done to try and get young male viewers. To claim that they are quality documentaries is laughable. They are the TV version of clickbait.

    1. The problem is two different demographics that would not mesh well.

      ABC4KIDS is pre-school content, like PlaySchool, Banana’s in Pajamers, Giggle & Hoot ect. So TV made for ages 2-5.
      ABC3 is more Primary School aged 7+, so there’s shows like Adventure Time, Strange Hill High. Shows with more complex stories, faster dialogue, combat, drama, ect.

      Some of the content on ABC3 would fly over the heads of the ABC4KIDS audience (take the teen dramas like “Ready for This”) and parents would complain to no end about how its too heavy for that age.
      Now if you show an 9/10 year old, a TV show made for 3 year olds, they’re going to turn the TV off in disgust at the contempt being shown towards them.

      Sure they’re all children, but there’s a dramatic difference between a child in preschool/prep to a child in grade 3-6. Not to mention that ABC3 in theory is meant to go to mid-teens…

      1. Plenty of ABC3 content is targeted at teens. Their primetime lineup is in large part “family” content, entertaining to adults as well.

        If the aim of ABC4Kids and ABC3 is to keep people aged 15 and under glued to a TV for all their waking hours, then the current separation of the two should be continued.

        1. I know a lot of the content on ABC 3 “targeted at teens”, but I am sceptical of how many teenagers actually watch it.

          In reality, the teen-focused programs (Like Heartland, Degrassi, Ready for Us, ect) on ABC3 would mainly be watched by older kids and Tweens who want to be like teenagers.

          Kids want to be Teenagers and Teenagers want to be Adults (A lot of Adults just want to be Kids again). Teenagers tend to watch more Adult shows staring Adults meant for Adults, not all of this is out of a desire to be older, most would genuinely like the programming more. The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Dexter, Breaking Bad and so forth are huge among teenagers.
          Teengers might watch teen-focused shows from time to time, but I am willing to bet you they’re more likely watching Channel 9 than they are ABC3.

          Target Audience doesn’t meant that is the audience. Plenty of cartoons meant for…

  5. I would ABCKIDS to be 24/7 , with the new technology to have more channels its possible, then ABC2 , 24/7 channel with the doco content, comedy , Dr Who , repeats from ABC etc , it woul work , and ghe ABC chater on wiki, say the would like to have a doco etc , extra channels

      1. No. Having ABC Kids in a 24/7 would not be a nice idea. A lot of children go to sleep from 8pm-9pm and wake up at around about 6 in the morning. If I was an ABC programming director, I would have kids programs running from 6am and go all the way to 7:30pm.

  6. ABC2 to me as a teenager meant two things, Good Game and Louis Theroux.

    I tend to find myself drawn more to GO! (or “9GO!” I guess now) and ELEVEN due to have more recent content, my real gripe with ABC2 is a lot of it does feel like repeats. Sure other channels run older stuff too, but ABC2 to me outside of Good Game always feels two steps behind.

    Like how they air a “new series of Archer” a full year after that season goes on DVD here, or their Tonight Show showings can be weeks old. How they pushed even that back just to show repeats of older Doctor Who’s again.
    Or they made a big deal about Peaky Blinders, even though it was up on Netflix like a solid month before (and in HD).

    I like ABC2 I really do, I like how they show crazy stuff on there, I just wish they could get their act together a bit quicker on some stuff.

    1. For people like yourself with access to pay TV (or Channel BT), from here on the only new content the ABC is likely to be able to present to you is things it’s made itself. There will be an increasingly strong case that the ABC should focus on original productions, especially when targeting younger people.

      This was part of the case against the recently axed channel BBC3. This action has saved the BBC millions in buying American content that either people had already seen, or will now be made available by a commercial broadcaster. However, it has also meant that the BBC’s pool of funds for making programs for young people has been seriously diminished. It remains to be seen how many newly commissioned youth programs find their way onto BBC2.

      1. What do you mean by me having Pay TV? Do you mean like streaming sites as in Netflix, because I don’t think that’s Pay TV.
        If by Pay TV you mean Foxtel, I can assure you I don’t have Foxtel or any satellite based paid TV. I won’t pay $40 minimum just to have access to a bunch of more channels with ads.

        The BBC3 thing is horrible. Sure the BBC might save themselves some money, but they’ve lost themselves audiences.
        I watch a bunch of ABC original programming, while a lot of it is good, I don’t have faith that they’re going to invest in making an animated adult series like Family Guy (ala BBC3) or Archer here on ABC2.
        ((If by a year later comment, that’s when the DVD came out for Archer, it would have aired on Foxtel before that, I don’t know when as I don’t have Foxtel)).

        I also I have doubts about Youth Programs as they tend to be pandering more often than not.

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