Foxtel programming sets the standard for the best in Australian television

Tonight at the Foxtel-MCN 2015 Upfront presentation, subscription televison broadcaster Foxtel unveiled its highly-anticipated line up of new and returing programming for 2015 and discussed its recently announced plans to broaden access to its subscription services to Australians everywhere. The event took place at the Sydney Theatre and was attended by the stars behind Foxtel’s favourite shows and a few new faces set to take to the Foxtel screen.

Foxtel Chief Executive Richard Freudenstein reflected on the past year highlighting the massive achievements that have taken place over the past 12 months including the completion of the Austar merger, improved content deals, new technology platforms and the launch of Foxtel’s new pricing and packaging, which is set to kick off in a matter of days.
He made special mention of two key developments designed to enhance the customer experience, notably the upcoming launches of the iQ3 set top box and the much vaunted triple play service of TV, broadband and home phone.

Mr. Freudenstein said, “2014 has been our busiest year ever. We have been working incredibly hard to put all of the pieces in place to bring Foxtel to the widest audience possible and starting in November, we are poised to kick off a new era in growth. We’re particulary excited to launch our new pricing and packaging, which will see our existing customers getting even more value than ever from their subscriptions at no extra change while giving the many Australians who have not previously considered Foxtel a great reason to take another look.”
Foxtel continues to offer the very best content available and is home to the best television programming from around the world, much of it, like HBO, on an exclusive basis, along with major agreements from world-class studios including Showtime, BBC Worldwide, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Disney, CBS, Sony, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox.

Foxtel is also gearing up to launch its all new BoxSets channel, dedicated to offering subscribers live and Anytime access to some of the most popular programming available from the subscription service. At launch titles available will include Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Band of Brothers, Wentworth, Dexter and many more.

In addition, Foxtel is strengthening its High-Definition offering across all of its premium content packs by adding nine new HD channels bringing the total HD channel count to 36 starting in November.

Mr. Freudenstein added, “People love to binge watch and people love to see great content in brilliant HD, so we’ve made a big effort to meet those demands head on with our new BoxSets channel as well as boosting our already great HD offering.”

Foxtel also announced a series of strategic content agreements set to bolster its ability to provide the best possible programming for subscribers starting with an unprecedented deal that will see Seven Productions produce one of Australia’s most watched drama series, A Place to Call Home, exclusively for Foxtel. The move is expected to delight the shows already passionate fans and includes an order for two more seasons of the popular period drama, the first beginning in 2015.

Foxtel Executive Director of Television, Brian Walsh said, “Inspiring story telling is what Foxtel is about and A Place to Call Home is Australia’s most loved drama series that has captured the hearts of millions of fans across the country. We are proud to partner with the Seven Network on this landmark deal and ensure that audiences can continue to enjoy this beautifully crafted and elegantly produced series.”

Foxtel and Network TEN have also co-commissioned a new Australian production, Gogglebox, a show about people watching television. Gogglebox will screen on Foxtel’s LifeStyle Channel and captures the reactions of ordinary Australians as they watch the evening news, debate over politics, cheer their favourite contestants and digest current affairs and documentaries.

Mr. Walsh said, “Gogglebox is like nothing else ever seen on Australian television, it is a true game changer that is set to hook audiences in a fun and entertaining way and we can’t wait to see your reaction when we share it in 2015.”

Returning to The LifeStyle Channel next year will be the hugely popular Selling Houses Australia for its eighth season, the fifth season of Grand Designs Australia, and the third season River Cottage Australia.

Foxtel also strengthened its offering of the best in drama by extending its exclusive output agreement with HBO. The deal sees Foxtel offering exclusive access to all first run programs by HBO as well as Anytime (On Demand) access to complete seasons of library drama and complete past seasons of returning drama series. The deal ensure showcase, the Home of HBO, will continue to feature new seasons of popular shows like Game of Thrones, Veep, Girls, The Leftovers and a brand new season of True Detective starring Vince Vaughan and Colin Farrell. Other new HBO series coming to Foxtel include The Knick, a new drama starring Clive Owen and Olive Kitteridge, a four-part miniseries starring Frances McDormand and Bill Murray.

“We’re thrilled to continue bringing our viewers new and award winning programming that Foxtel is known for, whether it’s Game of Thrones, True Detective, Top Gear, Gogglebox, Call the Midwife, Real Housewives, Sky News or Fox Footy, these are the must-have brands and Foxtel is where to find them,” added Mr. Walsh.

The event also saw Foxtel confirm a line-up of programming for 2015 headlined by more world class drama and locally produced TV series. Marquee titles that will spearhead Foxtel’s Australian drama include Deadline Gallipoli, starring and executive produced by Sam Worthington. The compelling four hour miniseries captures the heartache and futility of war as seen through the eyes of the journalists who reported it; The Kettering Incident, a gripping eight episode mystery thriller with otherworldly overtones based in small town Tasmania starring Elizabeth Debicki and Matthew Le Nevez; and the break-through prison drama, Wentworth will return for a third season.

From Foxtel’s brand new channel, BBC First, comes locally produced Banished, starring David Wenham as Captain Arthur Phillip, in an epic drama about Australia’s first convict settlers.

Joining Banished is the iconic BBC drama Call the Midwife, a huge worldwide hit, along with Death in Paradise and the twelfth season of the widely popular New Tricks.

Foxtel’s showcase and SoHo channels will premiere steamy love story, The Affair along with other popular series returning in 2015 including internationally acclaimed Orange is the New Black, Outlander, Ray Donovan, Black Sails and the final season of Mad Men.

Kicking off FOX8’s summer line up are two new US hit programs including super hero adventure, The Flash and the funny uplifting new series, Jane the Virgin.

Adventure and stories of the human spirit will feature strongly in The Raft, Remote Survival and The Watch (National Geographic); while Shark Week and Bear Grylls will continue to amaze viewers on Discovery. Joining Discovery is the brand new Discovery Kids, featuring inspiring, family oriented and educational programming; while the kids and family channels, including Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network will continue to offer great family entertainment.

A&E will debut a local version of the international hit Pawn Stars, a highly entertaining series featuring a remarkable Australian trio of pawn experts who have spent the last 20 years buying and selling hidden treasures.

Foxtel also announced a major new comedy project combining the talents of Rick McKenna and Laura Walters who will unite to create a brand new 20 episode comedy television series for The Comedy Channel in 2015.

Foxtel also announced the development of Pacific Heat, produced by Working Dog, a new Australian animated series set to be Australia’s first prime time adult animation also for The Comedy Channel.

Foxtel will continue to provide the best in music video entertainment with its eight dedicated channels across the Channel [V], MTV, MAX, Smooth, and CMC brands.

FOXTEL programming in 2015

The LifeStyle Channel
Based on the U.K. smash hit, Gogglebox is a weekly observational series which captures the reactions of ordinary Australians as they watch the nightly news, argue over politics, cheer their favourite sporting teams and digest current affairs and documentaries. Twelve households will be chosen and then rigged with special, locked off cameras to capture every unpredictable moment. Gogglebox is like nothing else ever seen on Australian television and it’s set to hook audiences in a fun and entertaining way. The series has been commissioned jointly by Foxtel and Network Ten and will air first on The LifeStyle Channel followed by Channel Ten.

Deadline Gallipoli explores the origin of the Gallipoli legend from the point of view of war correspondents Charles Bean, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, Phillip Schuler and Keith Murdoch, who lived through the campaign and bore witness to the extraordinary events that unfolded on the shores of Gallipoli in 1915. This compelling four hour miniseries captures the heartache and futility of war as seen through the eyes of the journalists who reported it. Joel Jackson stars as Bean, Hugh Dancy as Bartlett, Ewen Leslie as Murdoch, and Sam Worthington as Schuler. Charles Dance plays Hamilton, the Commander of the Gallipoli campaign, Bryan Brown plays General Bridges and John Bell plays Lord Kitchener. Deadline Gallipoli will be broadcast to coincide with the World War I Centenary commemorations.

Elizabeth Debicki, Matt Le Nevez, Anthony Phelan, Henry Nixon and Sacha Horler star in The Kettering Incident drama series. Set against the haunting gothic landscape of southern Tasmania, the gripping eight episode mystery thriller with otherworldly overtones is destined to enthral audiences.

A Place to Call Home is Australia’s most loved drama series that has captured the hearts of millions of fans across the country. A Place to Call Home is a sweeping, romantic drama series set in 1950s rural Australia following the lives of the Blighs, a wealthy and complicated pastoralist family, who live in Inverness, New South Wales. Starring Marta Dusseldorp and Noni Hazlehurst, A Place to Call Home will be produced by Seven Productions exclusively for Foxtel.

The Comedy Channel
A major new comedy project commissioned by The Comedy Channel which combines the extraordinary talents of two of Australia’s most coveted producers of television comedy, Rick McKenna (Kath and Kim, Full Frontal, Fast Forward) and Laura Waters (Summer Heights High, Ja’mie Private School Girl, Angry Boys). Rick and Laura will unite with Foxtel for what promises to be the most anticipated local comedy production in 2015. The biggest names in Australian comedy will join some of the brightest new names on the circuit and come together under one banner for a weekly comedy series, filmed in front of live studio audience. It will be a no holds barred send up of Australian culture, identities, celebrities and of course politicians.

The Comedy Channel
Pacific Heat is a new Australian animated series currently in development. The idea comes from the creative minds of Working Dog, the highly successful Australian production company, responsible for incredibly successful TV series such as “Frontline”, “Thank God You’re Here” and “The Panel.” This series will be Australia’s first prime time adult animation created and produced locally.

Pawn Stars Australia is a local version of the international hit featuring a remarkable Australian trio of pawn experts who have spent the last 20 years buying and selling hidden treasures. Pawn Stars Australia will follow the day to day lives of Happy Hockers, a chain of pawn shops based in Sydney, and will bring viewers inside the doors where the owners buy and sell collectible, unusual and historically significant items.

BBC First
From the producers of the highly acclaimed Top Of The Lake and the prolific screenwriter, Jimmy McGovern, comes Banished, starring David Wenham as Captain Arthur Phillip, in an ambitious new drama about Australia’s first convict settlers. Co-commissioned with BBC Two in the UK and produced by RSJ Films/See-Saw Films, this epic seven part series is loosely inspired by events in 1788 when Britain established a penal colony in Australia. Banished will be the first local production commissioned for BBC First.

Wentworth draws on characters and elements of the iconic Prisoner series as it builds its own brave and bold, contemporary story. This drama is tailor made for Australian subscription television but has also captured local and international attention, sparked by its Prisoner heritage but fuelled by Wentworth’s own high production standards, compelling storylines and the terrific performances of the ensemble cast. Starring Danielle Cormack, Nicole da Silva, Celia Ireland, Shareena Clanton, Katrina Milosevic, Kate Atkinson, Robbie Magasiva, and Aaron Jeffery.

The ninth season of this world famous modelling reality competition is currently in production. This season we see the return of host Jennifer Hawkins along with regular judge Alex Perry and model mentors Didier Cohen and Cheyenne Tozzi with special guest celebrity judges including Alessandra Ambrosio, Kelly Osbourne, Jean Paul Gaultier, Linda Envangelista, and many more.

This entertaining soap-doc provides an insider view of the lifestyles of wealthy and extravagant women with a revealing insight into their world. Season two will see the return of Chyka Keebaugh, Gina Liano, Jackie Gillies, Janet Roach and Lydia Schiavello, who will be joined by two new successful and established Housewives, Gamble Breaux and Pettifleur Berenger. The stage is set for Melbourne’s seven Housewives to deliver more high-end drama, controversy, fiery remarks, classic one-liners and of course showcase their glamorous lifestyles.

The LifeStyle Channel
The LifeStyle Channels top-rating program Grand Designs Australia explores the motivations, the memories, and the connections behind the builds going beyond the basic form and function. Hosted by leading Australian Architect, Peter Maddison, the series returns for its fifth season in 2015.

The LifeStyle Channel
Host and property expert, Andrew Winter, will again be joined by interior designer, Shaynna Blaze, and landscape designer, Charlie Albone for season 8 of the hit local production. Together they will transform some of the most testing homes that no-one wants to buy into saleable properties with spectacular results. In 2014, season 7 of Selling Houses Australia had a record setting season, attracting a cumulative average audience of 603,000 viewers per episode, making it the highest rating season of any series, in subscription television history.

The LifeStyle Channel
Paul West and his trusty dog, Digger, return for the third season of River Cottage Australia. Far more than a cooking show, River Cottage Australia encourages interest and debate about the importance of local and seasonal produce, and the broader issues of sustainable agriculture and fishing on a global scale. Paul faces new challenges and uniquely Australian characters as he continues to maintain and self-sufficient and financially viable farm on Central Tilba on the NSW Far South Coast.

The Knick is a period drama looking at the professional and personal lives of the staff at New York’s Knickerbocker Hospital during the early part of the twentieth century. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Clive Owen.

A blockbuster ensemble cast including Matt Dillon, Juliette Lewis and Terrance Howard star in Wayward Pines, a series that investigates the disappearance of two federal agents in a mysterious small Idaho town.