The ABC is rebranding its low-rating ABC2 as ABC Comedy in primetime and applying that brand across all TV, radio and digital platforms.
Starting at 7.30 pm on Monday December 4, ABC Comedy will screen one newly commissioned long-form series, Tonightly with Tom Ballard, as well as new short-form content plus binge-viewing of shows such as Rosehaven, The Ex-PM, The Letdown, Get Krack!n, Upper Middle Bogan, The Katering Show, Goober and The Edge of the Bush.
The daytime ABC Kids programming on the former ABC2 will continue, extended by half an hour to 7.30 pm.
Explaining the rationale for the rebrand, ABC director of television David Anderson tells IF: “Narrative comedy and entertainment is one of our strengths. What we are doing is pulling all that together under one banner under a new proposition, rebranding ABC2 as ABC Comedy.
“The more we thought about it and looked at the great titles we have coming up, the more it made sense.
“Viewers associate the ABC with comedy and entertainment programs that are clever and intelligent and which only the ABC can do.”
Anderson acknowledges ABC2’s primetime content did not have a clear identity and the ratings have been stagnant. Last week the channel was averaging a 2.9 per cent share in the overnight ratings, 3.4 per cent over seven days and 3.8 per cent in 28 days.
He credits Rebecca Heap, head of programming and digital, with coming up with the ABC Comedy concept.
In a brand extension there will be an ABC Comedy channel on YouTube and content on Facebook and podcasts on the ABC listen app.
Produced in-house and screening at 9 pm from Monday to Friday, Tonightly with Tom Ballard promises to be fast moving, irreverent, topical and funny, with bite‐sized packages released throughout the day on social media.
Ballard will be joined by field reporters Greta Lee-Jackson (SkitBox), Greg Larsen (Fancy Boy) and Bridie Connell (Whose Line Is It Anyway?).
On launch day, six new short-form series which will be available on ABC Comedy and on iview including Porchlight Films’ Kiki and Kitty, which will star Nakkiah Lui as Kiki, a young black woman who works as a paralegal for a corporate law firm and Kitty, Kiki’s vagina come to life.
Red Christmas’ #CelesteChallengeAccepted will see Celeste Barber parody modern celebrity and the Hollywood machine.
RKPIx’s The Chinaboy Show starring John Luc (aka MyChonny) is billed as the first ABC sketch comedy from the perspective of a Chinese/Vietnamese/Australian.
ABC production Virgin Bush will follow comedian Neel Kolhatkar as he heads to the bush to meet the locals and try his hand at sheep shearing, pigeon racing, bow hunting, rally driving and bull riding.
The other new short series are Film Art Media’s Other People’s Problems, which is based on the real-life website Clothing for Correspondence created by the writers Penelope Chai and Jane Dickenson; and Factor 30 Films’ Indigenous comedy Aussie Rangers, which follows Wally, the leader of a group of mismatched national park staff who tries to rally his troops in order to preserve their park and ranger station from merging with a rival park.
The 2018 comedy line-up on the main channel (which will have encore screenings on ABC Comedy) includes series 10 of CJZ’s Gruen, series 8 of ITV Studios Australia’s Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell and series 4 of Thinkative Television’s The Weekly with Charlie Pickering.
Among the new titles will be Jungle’s Sando, a sitcom revolving around Victoria ‘Sando’ Sandringham, Australia’s queen of discount furniture and electrical deals. Sando has been estranged from her family for a decade after her one-night stand with her daughter’s fiancé was shockingly revealed at her daughter’s wedding. After a health scare and with her career at a precipice, she is determined to reconnect with her family.
An ABC Indigenous commission, Guesswork TV’s Corey White’s Road Map to Paradise will see comedian Corey White aim to solve the world’s burning issues one at a time, in 15 minutes, including capitalism, democracy, nationalism, the war on terror, closing the gap, foster care, big data, racism and annihilation.
The line-up includes previously announced series Gristmill’s Back in Very Small Business, Jungle’s Squinters, Scarlett Pictures’ Black Comedy series 3 and Fresh Blood season 2.