Winner: Working Dog
Runner Up #1: Endemol Shine
Runner-up #2: Fremantle
Winner: Working Dog
The Melbourne-based production company is never far from a hit series and there are a couple on the books at the moment.
The company’s biggest success and biggest commission is the Network 10 Monday night comedy quiz format Have You Been Paying Attention?
The series launched toward the end of 2013 with just eight 30-minute episodes, but in subsequent years Working Dog has delivered close to 30 episodes with season six airing in 2018.
The show is hosted by Working Dog co-founder Tom Gleisner and all his colleagues are involved behind the scenes – sometimes taking a place as a contestant too.
His Working Dog colleagues are executive producers Santo Cilauro, Rob Sitch and Michael Hirsh. Jane Kennedy is a regular contributor although her radio commitments in 2018 perhaps kept her away from the series for more weeks than usual.
The biggest hits amongst a diverse Working Dog catalogue are Frontline, The Panel, Thank God You’re Here and the already mentioned Have You Been Paying Attention?
Although it didn’t screen this year, the ABC has commissioned another season of the workplace sitcom Utopia for 2019.
The prolific producers are also behind the football podcast Santo, Sam & Ed’s Total Football, which delivered 33 episodes this year before signing off for its summer break. The trio who host the show are Santo Cilauro, Sam Pang and Ed Kavalee.
Second place: Australia
Run by joint CEOs Mark and Carl Fennessy, Endemol Shine Australia pumps out an impressive amount of content that ticks both the quality and quantity boxes.
The company had at least 10 major FTA commissions screening this year, six of them on the 10 Network – MasterChef Australia, Australian Survivor, Gogglebox, Ambulance Australia, Shark Tank and Pointless.
For Nine it made Australian Ninja Warrior, Married At First Sight and Family Food Fight.
For Seven it produced All Together Now.
Amongst new commissions for next year are Lego Masters for Nine and Changing Rooms for 10.
As Australian TV networks back away a little from drama, the output at Endemol Shine Australia has been down. Their recent track record has been strong though with miniseries like Catching Milat, INXS: Never Tear Us Apart and Peter Allen performing well.
MasterChef was recently honoured at the International Emmys festival and awards in New York.
MasterChef Australia gained a medal for being in the final four in the Non-Scripted Entertainment category at the International Emmy World Television Festival.
Mark Fennessy, executive producer and Endemol Shine Australia CEO, said it was a great honour for the show to be a finalist.
Third place: Fremantle
Things have been a little bit quieter at Fremantle in 2018 than in previous years. However that is about to change big time.
A series of deals and commissions means plenty of hours will be pumped out of the business in 2019.
Chris Oliver-Taylor arrived this year as the new chief executive officer of Fremantle (formerly FremantleMedia).
One of the biggest of the new deals was selling Australia’s Got Talent back to Seven for 2019. The talent format used to live at Seven, however poor ratings led the network to drop the series. Fremantle then placed it with Nine who also subsequently dropped AGT due to poor ratings.
Now it is returning to Seven in what must have been a masterly negotiation that presumably includes performance hurdles built in to safeguard Seven and to incentivise Fremantle.
Key commissions this year include some subscription TV staples that performed very well including Wentworth, Grand Designs Australia, Great Australian Bake Off and Picnic At Hanging Rock.
One of the company’s new deals include a development deal with actress Marta Dusseldorp and the hiring of Screentime’s Jennifer Collins as Fremantle’s director of content.
The only FTA show continuing from this year to the next is 10’s Neighbours.