Producers are a bunch of copycats… well, good!

The contemporary audience demands diversity in not only genre but access to the screen content released to the world; Technology continues to advance therefore the way we watch TV and film entertainment changes. Switching on on telly box and flicking through the 10 channels available to find a program of interest is no longer the only option when you’re at home and wanting some screen time. The internet has brought us online streaming forums such as Netflix and Stan, both hitting Australian turf in 2015 and since then skyrocketed Netflix has particularly skyrocketed in success, dominating the market with 1.8 million subscriptions, that’s over 1 in 3 of the Aussie population! In comparison, Stan comes a very steady second to Netflix landing 332, 000 subscriptions. Netflix is an American founded company and Stan is an Australian founded service, in one way the previously mentioned comparison proves how the way Australian audiences watch favours global diversity over homegrown content.

As well as watching online, to access global content, cable TV providers such as Foxtel and Austar is a popular alternative to free to air TV. Although a paying service, Foxtel and Austar offer a number of channels broadcasting shows from all over the world, audiences love it because they are spoilt for choice. The exposure Australia has to foreign programs changes the expectations people have of television programs. A nation made available to multi-platform distribution has altered expectations of TV entertainment, for example, we are increasingly engaging with UK and US TV culture to the point we are accustomed to their style of TV. The concern here is how will Australian TV stay current and attractive in such a competitive media landscape.

franchise TV programs are ‘a collection of distinct series which are often considered as a collective unit under a blanket title’. The style of TV stands as a way to adopt a successful form of TV and release and customise it under the same name in which it is universally recognised. Many of the programs that come under television franchises are considered trashy in their themes and intentions, however, in spite of this, people can’t get enough of it. There is something addictive in watching something so bad it’s good, the ridiculousness of the concept or the cast is what makes it so entertaining.

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Taking a quick look at a franchise TV program which has extended it’s production to multiple countries including Australia. The Bachelor is an American reality dating show debuting in 2002. Described by a true fan (me!) the show has since been created into a number of spin-offs including The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. Since the release, the show has been recreated in 18 other countries, including Australia. Transmedia TV like The Bachelor is protected by the US doctrine of liberal internationalist foreign policy which accepts the free flow of audio-visual products while simultaneously demanding cooperation with US copyright laws (2013, p.138). The restrictive boundaries under these laws help to ensure domination for the birth country of that franchise. Australia has taken the TV show The Bachelor along with its copyright restrictions and sold it hard to Australian audiences making it a record-breaking hit in it’s most recent season. And not only looking at the success of The Bachelor Australia, most recently on the 4th of February 2018, 3 out of the 5 highest rated TV shows aired on this date were Australian versions of franchise programs.

If the way Australians watch TV favours global diversity, Australia needs to stay current with the trends. If local TV is going to own a title of a fierce competitor then give the audience a new spin on the addictive international programs that reel in the viewers.


References

Mirrlees, T 2013, Global Entertainment Media: Between Cultural Imperialism & Cultural Globalization, Routledge, New York.


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