Adult Drama is down, Children’s Drama is up, and there are green shoots in SVOD, according to Screen Australia’s annual Drama Report.
But there are concerns at shorter commissions by networks. This year commercial free to air networks made their lowest contribution since 2005/06.
“Australian TV drama is hugely popular and we’re seeing fantastic audiences for programs like Catching Milat, Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door and House of Hancock” said Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason, “It is, however, very expensive to produce, especially when weighed up against the cost of cheap American imports. With much more competition in the SVOD environment further fragmenting audiences, government incentives to produce local content will be more important than ever.
“Support for Australian stories is crucial to maintaining the great cultural dividends we’re seeing for audiences across all platforms,” he said.
In 2014 there were 47 Australian TV dramas (51 in 2013-14) with total expenditure in Australia at $299 million ($343m) down by 13% (-8%). The total hours of produced Drama (includes scripted Comedy) was 517 hours (603 hrs).
The Australian film / TV industry provided 60% of finance for this year’s Australian TV drama slate, contributing $201 million. This comprised $93m ($244m) from commercial free to air networks, their lowest contribution to the total slate since 2005/06. The largest contribution from a single broadcaster came from the ABC. Subscription television financed four titles, its highest recorded contribution to the TV drama slate.
There was $33m ($28m) government investment and $54m ($65m) foreign investment.
The adult TV drama slate comprised 34 titles (40) across 401 hours (472) with total budgets of $238m ($302m) and expenditure in Australia of $235m ($291m). Overall hours decreased by 16 per cent and budgets and spend by 22 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
There were 15 mini-series produced (15) and 5 telemovies (5). Series TV was 14 titles (20) and 284 hours (332 hrs).
Overall, the Seven and TEN networks continued to account for the lion’s share of adult TV drama hours produced, principally due to Home and Away and Neighbours. But there were no long series to boost overall hours, budgets and expenditure. In any given year there are usually at least two of this nature, each typically accounting for 22 hours or more. Recent past examples include, Wonderland (TEN), Packed to the Rafters and Winners & Losers (Seven). The latter was reduced to 13 hours in 2014/15, placing it in the mini-series category.
Production for the ABC continued to be strong this year, increasing even further after three years of solid production levels, following a boost to finance available for drama as part of the public broadcaster’s 2009–12 triennial funding agreement. As a result the ABC has accounted for the largest share of total budgets of any single broadcaster since 2011/12.
Subscription Television produced 3 dramas / comedies (2).
The Seven Network remained the highest financial contributor to the Adult slate from a single broadcaster, followed by the ABC and Foxtel.
There were 13 titles (11) with 116 hours of programs (131 hrs) with total budgets of $95 million ($86m).
ABC accounted for the largest share of children’s titles with Guess How Much I Love You, The New Adventures of Figaro Pho, Nowhere Boys, Little Lunch, Ready for This and Winston Steinburger & Sir Dudley Ding Dong.
Seven Network provided production finance to 26 hours (two titles), consistent with last year and similar to its activity in previous years. The Nine Network financed 12 hours (two titles), a drop from 59 hours last year, when it recorded the largest share of children’s drama production activity from a single broadcaster. Network TEN financed 34 hours (three titles) a significant increase from last year’s low of 13 hours.
Foreign TV Production
Foreign TV drama activity lifted to $21m ($1m) in Australian expenditure.
Titles included one foreign shoot title: the six-part US sci-fi series Childhood’s End as well as the first PDV-only TV title since 2010/11: the US series Powers, Sony Pictures Television’s first original series for the PlayStation Network.
There is a growing volume of professionally-produced drama content being made for release online. This year’s titles are Fresh Blood Pilot Season (ABC iview), No Activity, Plonk series 2 (both Stan) and SBS Comedy Runway (SBS ON DEMAND).
Location of expenditure ( NB: includes film production)
NSW: 38% (42%)
Vic: 28% (31%)
Qld: 28% (15%)
SA: 2% (9%)
WA: 1% (2%)
TAS / ACT / NT: 2% (1%)
A separate tally indicates where the production companies are based, rather than where the shoot happens (includes film):
TAS / ACT / NT: 2%
SERIES / SERIALS
The Ex-PM Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder
The Family Law Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd
Fresh Blood Pilot Season Various
Home and Away series 28 Seven Network Operations Limited
Kinne series 2 Seven Network Operations Limited
Neighbours series 32 FremantleMedia Australia
No Activity Jungleboys FTV Pty Limited, No Activity Pty Ltd
Open Slather McWaters Productions
Please Like Me series 3 Pigeon Fancier Productions, John & Josh International
Plonk series 2 One Stone Pictures Pty Ltd
Sammy J & Randy in Ricketts Lane Sticky Pictures Pty Ltd, SP Ricketts Pty Ltd
SBS Comedy Runway Various
Stories I Want To Tell You In Person Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd
Utopia series 2 Working Dog Pty Ltd
The Beautiful Lie Endemol Australia Pty Ltd
The Doctor Blake Mysteries series 3 December Media Pty Ltd
Glitch Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd
Hiding Playmaker Media Pty Ltd
House Husbands series 4 Playmaker Media Pty Ltd
House of Hancock Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd
The Kettering Incident Porchlight Films Pty Ltd, Sweet Potato Films Pty Ltd
Love Child series 3 Playmaker Media Pty Ltd
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries series 3 Every Cloud Productions Pty Ltd
A Place to Call Home, series 3 Seven Network Operations Limited
The Principal Essential Media and Entertainment Pty Ltd
The Secret River Ruby Entertainment Pty Ltd
Winners & Losers series 5 Seven Network Operations Limited
Winter Seven Network Operations Limited
Molly part 1 M4 Entertainment Pty Ltd
Molly part 2 M4 Entertainment Pty Ltd
Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door part 1 Shine (Aust) Pty Ltd
Peter Allen: Not the Boy Next Door part 2 Shine (Aust) Pty Ltd
Redfern Now – Promise Me Blackfella Films Pty Ltd
1001 Nights 1001 Nights Productions Pty Ltd, Chocolate Liberation Front
Bottersnikes and Gumbles Cheeky Little Media Pty Limited, Mighty Nice
Dogstar – A Christmas in Space Media World Pictures
Guess How Much I Love You series 2 SLR Productions Pty Ltd
KuuKuu Harajuku series 1 Moody Street Kids Pty Ltd, Vision Animation SDN BHD
Little Lunch Gristmill Pty Ltd
Mako: Island of Secrets series 3 Jonathan M Shiff Productions Pty Ltd
The New Adventures of Figaro Pho Chocolate Liberation Front, Vishus Productions,
Nowhere Boys series 2 Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd
Ready for This Big Chance Films Pty Ltd, Blackfella Films Pty Ltd, Werner Film Productions
Cleverman Goalpost Pictures Australia Pty Ltd, Pukeko Pictures Limited Partnership
The Day My Butt Went Psycho series 2 Brain Bender Pty Ltd, Studio Moshi
The Deep The Deep Australia Productions Pty Ltd, A Stark Production Pty Ltd
Winston Steinburger & Sir Dudley Ding Dong eOne, Sticky Pictures Pty Ltd
Foreign TV Production
Childhood’s End Universal Cable Productions, NBC Universal Television
(post, digital and visual effects)
Powers (US) Sony Pictures Television, Circle of Confusion