Screen Forever 2024: Why the numbers crunchers get a say in new ABC shows

An ABC committee makes room for both data and creativity when it comes to greenlighting new commissions.

ABC’s Audience division is part of a greenlight committee which approves new Scripted commissions, it was recently confirmed at the Screen Forever conference.

Rachel Okine,  appointed as Head of Scripted in July following her role as Senior Commissioning Editor at Stan, said the committee looks to four key points when considering new commissions, spanning both strategic and instinctual.

“We look at what has performed in that space at a certain level, what our expectations are in terms of the best case scenario for Audience capture,” she said.

“We then look at what are the things that are selling… what’s financeable in this current market environment, what’s got a real chance of converting?

“The third thing we look at is what are the marketable element? We are not like Stan, we don’t have that kind of marketing budget. But what the ABC does have is a touch point into literally millions and millions of homes all around the country, every single day, through either television, radio, news, digital.

“So, like with the different mastheads within the Nine group, how do we lean on that? How do we get it talked about within the framework of the ABC? Where we can’t and we want to reach further than that, that’s when we look at making a spend outside of that ecosystem.”

“The fourth thing that we (consider) is ‘Where’s the passion for it? Do we love it? Do we think that this team is amazing?…. Are we going to enjoy this process? Do we think there’s something special to say, that we really want to be a part of telling?

“Those are the four lenses that we look through that we apply. When we can tick those boxes, that’s when we put something forward with a green light.”

But Okine denied that commissions were based on data algorithms.

“Interpreting data forms a part of that and requires insight. It’s not just about looking at an algorithm. We don’t want the computer to decide. We have to use our wisdom to make sure that data makes sense of what’s actually a really complicated relationship between content and Audience.”

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