2018 looks set to deliver the lowest amount of Australian TV drama hours in over 45 years.
400.5 hrs of Australian drama are estimated to screen by year’s end, which will make it the lowest on record since 1972 when 362 hours screened.
Twenty years ago locally made drama was at an all-time high , with 1998 screening 756 hours of Australian drama.
1998 included 115 hrs of Home and Away, 112.5 hrs of Neighbours and 107.5 hrs of Breakers. There were also 43 hours of Pacific Drive, 41 hours of both Blue Heelers & All Saints, 35 hours of Wildside and 31 hours of Water Rats. Other dramas included State Coroner, Heartbreak High, Snowy River, Stingers, Medivac, Raw FM, Seachange, Good Guys Bad Guys, Boys from the Bush, Day of the Roses, Halifax FP and A Difficult Woman.
1975 was another big year for local drama at 691 hours.
That year included 130 hours of The Box, 120 hours of Number 96 (both on the 0-TEN network), 90 hours of Until Tomorrow, 51 hours of Certain Women, 50 hours of Class of ’75, 45 hours each of Bellbird & Homicide, 43 hours of Matlock Police and 36 hours of Division 4.
But in 2018 TV has changed dramatically with an estimated 400.5 hrs of broadcast Australian drama*
Outside of our 2 ongoing soaps there have been 12 hours of Wentworth & 10 hours each of A Place to Call Home, Doctor Doctor, Harrow and 10 due for the upcoming Tidelands on Netflix, as highest output.
The last big swell in local drama came in 2009 when shows like All Saints produced 37 hours a year, Packed to the Rafters hit 30 hours and City Homicide was 26 hours. Other prominent shows included Out of the Blue and Rush.
TV historian Andrew Mercado told TV Tonight, “We could probably blame the cost and the rise of reality TV as to why Aussie drama productions have gone down but there is another reason as well. Until networks start taking some real risks, and create jaw-dropping dramas that can match the rest of the world, we will continue to lag behind.”
Matthew Deaner CEO of Screen Producers Australia said, “That a halving of drama on our tv screens has occurred in the 20 years from 1998 to 2018 is on any measure a great concern. Given the explosion of digital channels and the government removing various costs for broadcasters during that time we should have seen growth of output and availability for audiences and instead we have the opposite. The increased substitution of New Zealand drama content has had a big role to play here and we continue to call on the Government to act.
“This is bad for Australians who expect more from the public asset of broadcasting and it’s terrible for our industry both in terms of employment and training.”
* does not include 800 Words.