ABC set to make money out of iview

12 November, 2014 by Don Groves

The ABC will generate revenue from iview by enabling users to buy current and classic series and episodes starting in the first quarter of next year.

ABC director of television Richard Finlayson said today that programming that is no longer in the two week, free catch-up window will be available to download by clicking through to iTunes. Most of that content is already on iTunes but users will be able to buy titles via the iview platform.


He made that announcement as part of the ABC’s upfronts presentation today under the catch-cry “It’s all good,” which emphasises local drama, comedy, factual entertainment and documentaries.

Finlayson told IF the iview initiative stems from viewers who had complained they could not access older ABC shows on the catch-up platform. The Lewis report and Communication Minister Malcolm Turnbull had recommended the broadcaster boost its commercial revenues.

“We’re obviously keen to make sure we are maximising ABC Commercial’s revenues, all of which goes back into making content,” he said. The budget cutbacks imposed on the ABC in the federal budget had not affected the 2015 release slate, he noted.

He welcomed Turnbull’s statement indicating there would be an imminent announcement on further cuts, which followed media reports that both ABC and SBS face reductions of $200 million-$300 million over five years.

“We are looking forward to an end to the uncertainty,” he said. “I feel for most for our staff, until we know the size and nature of the cuts. We have prepared a range of scenarios but we won’t make responses until we see the specific numbers.”

Finlayson said the looming launches of SVoD services are creating enormous demand for ABC content and he confirmed ABC Commercial is in talks with Stan, the Nine Entertainment-Fairfax Media joint venture, Netflix and others.

“It’s great that consumers will be able to access ABC shows and archives on the new platforms,” he said. However the ABC and other content owners are frustrated that the Australian Television Repeats and Residuals Agreement (ATRRA), which was last renewed in 2004, makes it prohibitive to re-license many older shows.

The ABC has voiced its concerns with Screen Producers Australia, which is negotiating a new ATTRA deal with Actors Equity. “It’s a shame we cannot see a lot of these classic shows,” he said, adding he will have more to say on the issue at next week’s Screen Forever conference.