SBS doesn’t get to make a lot of local drama each year, due to limited budgets, but it believes there is more benefit to the broadcaster for limited series instead of a returning drama.
Last week at Screen Forever Marshall Heald, SBS Director of TV and Online Content, explained, “So far, we’ve been doing, typically in an ordinary year, maybe three, four-parters, non-returnables.
“I think we’re at a point now with a slate where the amount of international investment has grown. We could potentially get some of those to six-parters. But that means there’s really only 18 hours a year at a max.
“Our local slate is much more of a punctuation point for us. We nest those shows within acquired drama titles, whether it’s Vikings, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Good Fight or Zero Zero Zero.”
Heald says having a varied drama slate helps build a reputation for SBS Drama.
“We don’t do returnables because you get diminishing returns from a reputational perspective. With us, to be frank, there’s a certain degree of smoke and mirrors. If you can produce three new series every year, then the reputational benefit you get is greater than getting into the world of returnables,” he continued.
“Of course, you want returnables because you can grow brands and get audience. So given the resources we have, there are some trade-offs we have to make.
“But equally making three new shows every year allows you to explore new issues, new communities, new worlds. So that’s kind of fun as well.”