NZOA Gives to Filthy Rich

NZ On Air is spending more than $8.1 million on a groundbreaking HD drama series that will screen twice a week on TV2 next year.

Filthy Rich spearheads a new approach to free-to-air drama series scheduling in this market, with the 20-hour commission slated to screen almost as often as My Kitchen Rules.

Filthy Rich will deliver a new way of storytelling,” TVNZ’s general manager of commissioning and acquisitions Andrew Shaw said in a statement.

Its inception came from a desire to maximise potential TV audiences who have tended to swing towards outrageous, anything-goes shows, offering high stakes and shocking surprises.”

Blue-chip show runners Rachel Lang (Go Girls, Nothing Trivial, Outrageous Fortune) and Gavin Strawhan (Go Girls, Nothing Trivial) are behind the series about three illegitimate children who discover they each have a claim to the fortune of one of New Zealand’s wealthiest men.

Says the blurb: “When he dies, these unwanted, unexpected heirs stand to share in his legacy – but not if his legitimate family has anything to do with it.

“They’re bonded through thick and thin, sick and sin. But who is good? Who is bad? This is a game, a power struggle, a family torn asunder – who will be the victor?”

A new production company, Filthy Productions, has been set up to make the multi-night format, with Steven Zanoski (Shortland Street) producing.

“Multi-night formats are currently drawing strong audiences,” NZOA chief executive Jane Wrightson says. “Prime time drama is one of our key goals, and this is a strong project with a skilled production team.”

The problem with drama for FTA networks is it’s the genre most often time-shifted for watching; if Filthy Rich can become as addictive a social media hit as MKR or The Block, then more people will watch it live — which will make it more desirable to advertisers.

It also will  build momentum quicker than a weekly drama series, with the likes of Nothing Trivial, Blue Rose and Harry struggling to gain traction in a fragmented viewing world.

“In an environment where it is cheaper to buy overseas content, our role is to preserve a space on local screens for local stories,” Wrightson says.

“The multi-night approach is cost-effective on a per hour basis, and more frequent installments should result in higher audience engagement.”

TVNZ’s head of content Jeff Latch calls Filthy Rich “one of the biggest and most ambitious dramas” the broadcaster’s developed while Strawhan says it’s a “new style of drama” for NZ screens.

“It’s an exciting and bold move by TVNZ to have responded to changing viewer habits and take this drama forward.”

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