Australia’s funding mechanisms have not yet adapted to reflect how Australians are increasingly watching more content online, Netflix claims.
In its submission to the Australian and Children’s Screen Content Review, Netflix says Australian production incentive programs discriminate based on distribution channel. It is seeking a shake-up of government funding to better reflect where Australian audiences are going.
“Producers are ineligible for certain incentives if they wish to make television series, or use a streaming service to distribute their content. There is a missed opportunity to better support producers who wish to target their content to audiences using streaming services,” it said in its statement.
Netflix highlighted Tidelands and Pine Gap as titles it is currently producing or co-producing in Australia.
“But these are just two of the many investments Netflix has made in Australian production since we launched in 2015. Netflix partners with Australian creators to bring both original and second-run Australian television series and movies to our members around the world. This includes second-run Australian titles Lion, Rake, Ms. Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Barbecue, Outback Truckers, The Code, Laid, and The Moodys. Licensing second-run content provides a new window for Australians to access older Australian content otherwise not readily available to them.”
Other local titles include White Rabbit Project, Tales by Light, Wanted, Pacific Heat, The Letdown, Cargo, Glitch.
“When Netflix partners with an Australian network to co-produce a title, the Australian network is provided the first-run rights in Australia while Netflix distributes it as an original outside of Australia.
“Netflix’s investment in a co-production ensures global reach and larger production budgets. For example, after an investment from Netflix, Glitch was able to extend its production timeline. ABC said that working with Netflix delivered a ‘better outcome’ for Australian audiences: ‘As a result of Netflix’s involvement, there is more money being invested in Glitch to fully realise the creative aspiration of the series.’ In cases where Netflix is working with a local network, the investment from Netflix up-front increases the value of the local network’s investment.
“Netflix has invested in a significant amount of kids content in Australia, both second-run licensed content and Netflix originals. Australia is one of the top locations for Netflix’s original kids productions for both animated and live action programming. Netflix’s Australian kids originals include series and co-productions Beat Bugs, Bottersnikes & Gumbles, Kazoops!, Mako Mermaids: An H20 Adventure, Legend of Monkey and the recently announced untitled Motown project .
“Netflix’s investment in Australian kids originals is testament that Australian kids content travels. Global streaming services allow Australian creators of kids programing to find audiences around the world. As Beat Bugs [producer] Josh Wakely said, ‘Bringing Beat Bugs to life on Netflix and having a platform to reimagine this universally acclaimed music for families around the world is an exhilarating and rewarding experience.’ Australian kids content like Beat Bugs and Kazoops! entertains, educates, and showcases Australian creative talent and culture to families around the world.”
John Luscombe, producer of The White Rabbit Project, said of producing for the Netflix model, “You’re not trying to come up with a show that’s going to clean up a 7:30pm on Wednesday night on a free-to-air network in Australia. If you can get a hold of the audience…they’re going to renew you. It’s an exciting opportunity…They placed an extraordinary amount of trust in this program… They left us to our own devices creatively which was a fantastic way to work.”