‘Mystery Road’ sets a new high for ABC’s iview

‘Mystery Road – The Series.’

Bunya Productions’ Mystery Road – The Series now ranks as the most watched non-children’s series on the ABC’s iview platform in addition to its sizable broadcast following.

The average audience per episode on iview is 246,000 and growing while the crime drama starring Aaron Pedersen and Judy Davis has been watched by an average of 846,000 in the five mainland capitals.

Directed by Rachel Perkins, the 6-part series co-funded by Screen Australia, Screenwest and Create NSW will premiere in the US on streaming service Acorn TV on August 20; parent company Acorn Media Enterprises also picked up secondary rights in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand in the deal with All3Media International.

Small wonder the ABC is discussing a second series with Bunya Productions’ David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin.

Mystery Road, Jack Irish, Anh’s Brush with Frame, Gruen, Julia Zemiro’s Home Delivery, The Weekly with Charlie Pickering and Back in Time for Dinner are among the high rating shows which have often propelled the ABC to third place in the overnight prime-time ratings in the past couple of months.

“These are shows which only the ABC would do,” says Michael Carrington, who has been acting head of distribution for entertainment and specialist since June 4 following the resignation of Rebecca Heap.

Carrington points out iview has been transformed from primarily a catch-up platform into a destination for audiences, especially younger viewers, who want to watch shows when it suits them.

Hence the ABC will continue the strategy of making shows such as Mystery Road available for binge viewing on iview at the same time as the broadcast premiere. “We can take risks with our scheduling which the commercial networks can’t,” he said.

He is looking forward to the premiere of the fifth series of Easy Tiger Productions and Blow by Blow’s Rake next Sunday and to Gristmill Productions’ comedy Back in Very Small Business, which launches on September 5.

He is excited by the footage of Screentime’s political thriller Pine Gap (the first two episodes will premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival) and Matchbox Pictures and For Pete’s Sake Productions’ drama serial The Heights.

Wearing his previous hat as head of children’s content, he looks forward to Bluey, Ludo Studios’ series for pre-schoolers which follows a six-year-old cattle dog whose wild imagination turns ordinary moments into wild adventure

The ABC will unveil its new slate of dramas and factual programming in October. “There will be a number of landmark shows which we think will be part of the national conversation,” he said.

The broadcaster has not given any indication of whether or when there will be a permanent appointment as head of distribution for entertainment and specialist.

For Carrington’s part he is thrilled to be doing the job, rating it as the best he’s had in a lengthy career which includes serving as CEO of Zodiak Kids Studios and senior positions at the BBC, HIT Entertainment and Cartoon Network.