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    How Binge’s Colin From Accounts is helping push global interest in Australian originals

    Yesterday Mediaweek published a look inside Colin From Accounts production house Easy Tiger.

    Today we speak to Binge executive director, and Foxtel Group commissioner, Alison Hurbert-Burns, about that hit show. She reveals how Australian originals stack up against international acquisitions. It’s a battle that will help define the future direction of the Binge streaming product.

    Hurbert-Burns is a key link in how the sitcom arrived at the Foxtel Group. She is a former colleague of Easy Tiger’s Rob Gibson when they worked at Stan. They had worked together on the Stan Original No Activity.

    As Hurbert-Burns explained to Mediaweek: “I got a message from Rob when I arrived at Binge. He rang me and said, ‘Ali, congrats for going over to Binge. I think I’ve got your first Binge original.’

    “It ended up being Colin From Accounts and it became our second original.”

    See also: Binge launches Colin From Accounts second season as new episodes of hit comedy drop

    How Binge’s Colin From Accounts is helping push global interest in Australian originals

    Above: Gordon (Patrick Brammall) and Ashley (Harriet Dyer) in Colin From Accounts. Top image: The cast of Colin From Accounts with Foxtel Group’s Alison Hurbert-Burns and Lana Greenhalgh

    Brian Walsh was a fan of Colin From Accounts scripts

    Back then Hurbert-Burns was working alongside Foxtel’s Brian Walsh as they planned the Foxtel Group Originals slate.

    “Brian knew the Easy Tiger team but had never made anything with Ian Collie or Rob. It was just after lockdown ended, and we went and had breakfast with them. We were there to talk about Colin From Accounts because Rob had sent me the script. Harriet had written it a few years before and it had been across lots of people’s desks.

    “I remember Brian texting me, he was up reading it at home one evening. He’s like, ‘Ali, I haven’t laughed out loud like this for some time.’ Then we read more, and Brian and I made the recommendation to commission the show. A few people, who will remain nameless, questioned making an Australian romcom for TV.

    “We were very confident in our commissioning decision. But you don’t know until it starts to really come together. We shot the pilot in Sydney in 2022 and had it ready for the LA screenings.

    “CBS Studios saw the early cuts and we were getting feedback from the US team about how happy they were with it. For the screening Ian Collie, Rob Gibson and I were on the Paramount lot. Amanda Laing and Patrick Delaney were also with us.

    “I’ve never been more nervous in my life. We had around 600 people in the beautiful main studio at Paramount. One of the oldest lots in Hollywood and it was full of TV buyers. I remember feeling so relieved and just so excited to hear the laughter during the screening.

    “Fast forward two years and we’re in 100 countries now.”

    See also: Production hothouses: Brands behind Australia’s Logie-winning series

    Gordon and Ashley in episode two of season two

    Colin takes off on Binge

    It was six months after that LA screening that the sitcom arrived on Binge. “It just took off,” said Hurbert-Burns.

    “It was pretty clear that we had something very strong. We dropped all eight episodes of season one at once because we wanted to get word of mouth. That happened during the summer holidays at the end of 2022.

    “It then took off in England at Easter.” Binge continued to promote the series with Hurbert-Burns noting it had three big audience moments during 18 months. “That is quite unique,” she explained. The series also started to register again on the most-watched list ahead of the launch of season two.

    Binge’s biggest hits

    Hurbert-Burns noted how Colin From Accounts performed against some of the iconic other properties that sit on Binge.

    “It’s up there with Love Me as our most popular original in audience size. For the time we have had Colin From Accounts on Binge, it sits alongside the biggest shows ever from HBO or BBC or Warner Bros.

    We were hoping for a male-female co-viewing romcom and it’s definitely done that. It’s a success by all metrics. When you look at the percentage of our subscribers that finished the series, the completion rates are high.

    “We launched it out of the back of the White Lotus quite purposefully.”

    Comedy as a subscription driver

    When Colin season one came out, we saw direct correlations between people signing up. We then measure the first thing watched on signup which is a pretty good indicator of what they’re coming in for. We saw a direct correlation there.

    “What we found was in the 18 months since Colin came out, many people signing up to Binge for the first time were watching the series. It’s become a real evergreen for the platform.”

    See also: Latest Binge subscriber numbers released by News Corp

    Dr Bruce (Tony Llewellyn-Jones) and Gordon (Patrick Brammall)

    Choosing a commission

    Has finding a hit sitcom made the commissioners feel a little braver? “It’s always a mix of data and curiosity and a bit of gut feel,” said Hurbert-Burns. “When you commission there’s butterflies because you hope the audience that you believed in will find it.”

    As ABC’s Jennifer Collins explained in Mediaweek recently, Australian content is “having a moment” internationally. Hurbert-Burns agreed.

    “I love that Colin has lifted the profile for Australian content overseas. I’m a big believer in all boats rising on the tide.

    “Three of our next local shows that are coming, not just drama, not just comedy, have all been pre-sold into the major markets. And people are coming in off scripts of early pitches because they’re having success on their slates with our content.

    “When you see Australian content selling overseas it helps the risk profile of all of our productions.

    See also: Binge to launch docu-soap reality format Billion Dollar Playground in 2024

    “We work really closely with partners that are taking our shows so that we can support them as best as possible with all our promotion and social assets. International markets are looking for different models. Everyone’s got constrained budgets. People are looking at different ways to produce with partners.”

    Listen to Mediaweek’s TV Gold podcast with fresh episodes released every Friday.
    Special bonus episode this week features Easy Tiger’s Ian Collie and Rob Gibson talking about Colin From Accounts and some of their other recent hits.

    TV Gold

    The post How Binge’s Colin From Accounts is helping push global interest in Australian originals appeared first on Mediaweek.

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