5 NOV 2019


Manager Content Sales at ABC Commercial detailed the strategies used for the company to remain strong in the international market, told about the varied catalog and explained the best ways to work nowadays.


For 40 years, ABC Commercial has been the distribution arm of the Australian Public Broadcaster ABC and its job is to commercialize and raise revenues for the broadcaster. “We are a public broadcaster so we don’t carry advertising, we are fully funded by the Australian goverment,” explained Tony Iffland, Manager Content Sales at ABC Commercial to Señal News.

The executive said that like a public broadcaster its funding is under pressure so they use different strategies to remain strong in the market. “We’ve been investing  a lot of our profits into new Australian productions, we’ve become part of the finance plan on many new Australian productions by a distribution advance”, told.

Also, ABC Commercial sells ABC made content with in house production teams in the children’s area or science area and musical affairs. “Other strategy is to partenered with Australian independent producers where ABC is a commisioned broadcaster, so we become part of that finance plan and we help them made those shows being made,” said Iffland.

Finally, there is an area where ABC Commercial sees the needs in the international marketplace but it might not be genres that ABC has as a broadcaster. “We will take on distribution programming that doesn’t necessarily have to be broadcasted by ABC. Everyone looks to us as the budget gets tighter and tighter to be able to help fund content”, completed the executive.


ABC Commercial has a robust and varied catalog with high quality content that include kids series, scripted content, wildlife programmes, factual shows and formats. The company launched in the last MIPJunior “Itch”, a brand new live action kids drama commisioned by ABC and made by Komixx Entertainment. “We had a fabulous response from people about ‘Itch’, obviously has hit the right core amongst the international marketplace and its seems every territory, doesn’t matter what language they speak or what sort of cultural atributes they have, it’s seems to be a very broadly appealing series and I’m very happy with that and Australia has a great heritage in making that sort of content, people know that its going to be a very high quality and with great production values”, asserted Iffland.

In the wildlife slate, ABC Commercial is pushing three series from Wildbear Entertainment, two nature history series “Wild Australians” and “Wild Wars” and another series call “Searching for Superhuman” which explores the discoveries over the past decades that have revolutionised our understanding of how to live longer, better, smarter and stronger.

The Australian distributor also is offering some true crime as “Kidnap case files” which delves into major abduction cases. “Everyone keeps on saying how much longer will true crime go,  it’s still very strong, is still what the broadcasters are looking for”, affirmed the Manager Content Sales at ABC Commercial.

As a new content, ABC Commercial has new in house production shows as “Restoration Australia” and “Dream Gardens”. “It’s been a very big slate of content that we brought to MIPJunior and Mipcom and I’ve been very  pleased with the feedback that we got, we’ve met  all the majors and many of our partners in individual territories as well, we had a very good and strong response,” added Iffland.


ABC Commercial has been very active in the digital space, starting this year. “This is very interesting because that area is moving very fast, with the launch of Disney+, Apple+, etc, they have never been more clients that now and they are all offer high quality, good storytelling so we are very fortunate. Australia has great reputation for producing and programming a very high quality but also we are able to make things that people want to see arround the world”, opined Iffland.

The executive also affirmed that the relationship between producers and distributors has to change. “Distributors need to be involved with the project earlier, during the production, and I think is really important that the producer and the distributor work together on planning how to get to the market and define who will be the key clients”, explained.  “I think the parnership between production and distribution needs to work closer even, and the planning process needs to be earlier and the targeting and the why are you going to bring content to the market has to be more sophisticated and it has to be planned out over a period”, added.

There has to be a very open and strong communication between both parties, distributors bringing information about what the international marketplace is wanting and needing and the production companies making sure that the distribution company is aware of the right direction of the show, how the finished product is going to look like before you present the finished programme, that is really important”, concluded.


Australia and New Zealand are the traditional territories where ABC Commercial sells a lot of content. “New Zealand is very strong because there are very strong cultural ties with Australia and UK has been traditionally a very strong market for us”, said Iffland. “We had some successful dramas in France over the last couple of years  and we think the type of content that we are offering, the Wild Wars programmes, the science series, will allow us to expand our footprint, specially in Latin America where that sort of programmes do work very well and the language is easier in documentaries since they are able to be dubbed”, opined.

By Romina Rodríguez