Subscription video-on-demand service Stan expects to announce at least two more development deals with Australian producers in the next couple of months.
The platform co-owned by Nine Entertainment Co (NEC) and Fairfax Media sees Australian original content as a key point of differentiation with competitors Presto Movies/Presto TV and with Netflix, which is due to launch in Australia/New Zealand on March 28.
The number of Aussie projects it will commission will depend partly on its ability to raise finance from other sources including international broadcasters or co-producers.
“We have a fixed amount to spend so the key will be to find overseas partners for co-funding at an early stage,” Nick Forward, Stan’s director of content and product, tells IF.
“That may mean more reliance on international cast or co-commissions with subscription VoD and premium cable players who make a lot of this sort of content.”
Last month Stan announced development deals for two 6-part series: Wolf Creek from Greg Mclean’s Emu Creek Pictures and Screentime; and Enemies of the State, the saga of controversial High Court Judge and Attorney-General Lionel Murphy, from Essential Media and Entertainment and Little Mates.
Both fit Stan’s remit for bold and daring content. “We want shows that no one else in Australia would have dared to make,” says Forward. “We also want to make shows that are designed for binge-viewing. Hopefully in a year from now we will have two shows that will hit it out of the park.”
In sourcing local content Forward works closely with Nine Network’s heads of drama Andy Ryan and Jo Rooney. Asked to define a Stan show, Ryan says, “Daring, noisy, high quality and something that feels exclusive, above and beyond what you will see on free-to-air TV.
“We are not subject to the same constraints as free-to-air, which is liberating for producers and programmers.”
Stan’s library is growing rapidly. At launch on January 26 the platform had around 5,500 hours of film and TV content and that has since expanded to nearly 7,000 hours.
Delivering its half-yearly results last week, NEC reported Stan’s subscriber numbers were tracking three or four months ahead of expectations and it predicted more than 100,000 sign-ups (paid subs and those on the 30-day free trial) by mid-March.
After signing licensing deals with Roadshow, BBC Worldwide, ABC Commercial and SBS/World Movies, the service has looked for more niche content.
In that vein, Stan’s deal with Pinnacle encompasses Dallas Buyers Club, Drive, Jobs, Winter’s Bone, Larry Crowne, Dark Skies, The Reef and Hit and Run.
Another deal with Madman Entertainment includes documentaries Searching for Sugar Man, Undefeated and Man on a Wire, Oz films Animal Kingdom, The Hunter, Kokoda, Chopper, Lantana, Kenny, He Died with a Felafel in His Hand and My Brilliant Career; and The Trip, What Maisie Knew, This Is England, Blue Valentine, Half Nelson and The Raid.