2018 / 19 Drama Report: record spend as costs rise.

A record $584 million was spent on Australian TV Drama as the cost pr hour rises.

A record $584 million was spent on Australian TV Drama (incl. Children’s & Online) according to the annual Screen Australia Drama Report.

The figure is up on 2017/18’s $401m.

Across the total TV drama slate, hours, budgets, spend and average cost per hour increased year-on-year. Average cost per hour, for all titles combined, increased significantly to $760,000 per hour -an increase of 7%.

While the expenditure lifted by a third, total hours only increased 4%.


$1,179 million total Australian expenditure – 53% up on last year’s spend, due to a new record spend by Australian titles, and increased foreign production spend.

Record expenditure by Australian titles – $768 million 65% of total expenditure was triggered by Australian titles that started principal photography during 2018/19.

37 Australian TV drama titles – $334 million record expenditure, up 13% on last year, and 12% above the five-year average. Hours also increased to just above the five-year average.

15 Australian children’s TV drama titles – $95 million – a 10-year record spend.

28 Australian online drama titles – $40 million significant increase in number of titles, but expenditure down 25% on last year.


In 2018/19, 37 TV drama titles commenced production and generated 440 hours of content, up on last year’s 423 hours. These titles had total budgets of $334 million.


Children’s Television

15 children’s dramas entered production in 2018/19, including two Official Co-productions.. Together these titles generated 132 hours of content -a five year high. These tallied to a total cost of $105 million ($46m live action / $59 animation).

Online (SVOD, BVOD etc @ 30 mins or more)

In 2018/19, 28 titles were made for first release online –  including two single-episode and 26 series titles, with total budgets and expenditure of $53 million. Australian spend of $40 million was down 25% on last year due to some titles spending a significant amount overseas.

Foreign TV

Foreign TV drama activity accounted for $115 million in Australian expenditure in 2018/19, up significantly on 2017/18 ($4 million) and the strongest result in more than a decade.  Nine titles contributed to the result, including five PDV-only titles, however the increase was driven by the second-highest spend on record for the four foreign TV series shot in Australia – Reef Break, Preacher series 4 (US), If Time Flows Back (China) and Nirasha (Sri Lanka).

Sources of Finance

The Australian screen industry provided 44% of the finance to this year’s Australian TV and online drama titles – $219 million to 73 titles. 44% is the lowest proportion of total finance since 2000/01, while also being the second highest year in terms of titles produced (73). The increase in titles is largely driven by the inclusion, since 2016/17, of online drama. The largest proportion of finance (and the largest from any sector) came from the commercial free-to-air networks. The largest contribution from a single broadcaster came from the ABC, which, as a first release broadcaster provided finance to 28 titles, including seven ABC iview originals. Subscription television financed three titles for first release broadcast. SBS/NITV financed four titles – one for SBS on Demand. Stan financed four titles. Distributors and production companies provided the rest of the industry finance.

Drama production by location (inc. film)

New South Wales $369m 31%
Victoria $350m 30%
Queensland $287m 24%
South Australia $110m 9%
Western Australia $35m 3%
Tas/NT/ACT $28m 2%

Drama Series

Black Comedy series 4 Scarlett Pictures Pty Limited ABC
Diary of an Uber Driver Revlover Films Pty Ltd ABC
Fam Time Seven Studios Pty Limited, Fam Time Productions Pty Ltd Seven
Get Krack!n series 2 Katering Productions Pty Ltd, Guesswork Television Pty Ltd ABC
Home and Away series 32 Seven Network Operations Limited Seven
How To Stay Married series 1 Hell And High Waters Holdings Pty Ltd 10
Kinne Tonight Big Yellow Taxi Productions Pty Ltd 10
Mr Inbetween series 2 Blue Tongue Films, Jungle Entertainment Pty Ltd FX Network
Mr. Black Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd 10
Neighbours series 36 FremantleMedia Australia 10
Rostered On series 2 Ruby Entertainment Pty. Ltd., Robot Army Productions Pty Ltd Seven
Short Blacks Initiative 2018 Various ABC
Squinters series 2 Jungle Entertainment Pty Ltd, Squinters Season 2 Pty Ltd ABC
The End The End Productions Pty Ltd Foxtel
The Letdown series 2 TLD2 Pty Ltd ABC
Upright Lingo Pictures Pty Ltd Foxtel
Utopia series 4 Utopia TV Pty Ltd ABC
Bad Mothers Jungle Entertainment Pty Ltd, Bad Mothers Pty Ltd, Bad Mothers Holdings Pty Ltd Nine
Between Two Worlds BTW Productions Pty Ltd, Seven Network Operations Limited Seven
Doctor Doctor series 4 Easy Tiger Productions Pty Ltd Nine
Five Bedrooms series 1 Hoodlum 10
Frayed Guesswork Television Pty Ltd, Merman Television ABC
Glitch series 3 Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd ABC
Harrow series 2 Hoodlum ABC
Hungry Ghosts Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd SBS
Les Norton Roadshow Rough Diamond ABC
Ms Fisher’s MODern Murder Mysteries Every Cloud Productions Pty Ltd Seven
My Life is Murder Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder 10
Playing for Keeps series 2 Screentime Pty Ltd 10
Reckoning Playmaker Media Pty Ltd AXN
Seachange Every Cloud Productions Pty Ltd, ITV Studios Australia Pty Ltd, Seachange Reimagined Season 1 Pty Ltd Nine
Secret Bridesmaids’ Business Seven Studios Pty Limited, SBB Productions Pty Ltd Seven
Stateless Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd ABC
The Hunting Closer Productions Pty Ltd, CP The Hunt Pty Ltd SBS
The Secrets She Keeps Lingo Pictures Pty Ltd 10
Total Control Blackfella Films Pty Ltd ABC


Dark Place Noble Savage Pictures Pty Ltd ABC


100% Wolf (working title) Flying Bark Productions ABC
Alice Miranda Friends Forever SLR Productions Pty Ltd Nine
Bluey series 2 Ludo Studio Pty Ltd ABC
Dumbotz Blue Rocket Productions Pty Ltd, Beyond Productions Pty Ltd Nine
Hardball Northern Pictures Pty Ltd ABC
Itch Komixx Entertainment Pty Ltd ABC
Kitty Is Not a Cat series 2 Bogan Entertainment Solutions Pty Ltd Seven
Little J & Big Cuz series 2 Ned Lander Media Pty Limited NITV
Monster Beach Bogan Entertainment Solutions Pty Ltd Foxtel
Mustangs FC series 2 Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd, Mustangs Two Pty Ltd ABC
Random & Whacky series 2 Ambience Entertainment Pty Limited 10
The Inbestigators Gristmill Pty Ltd ABC
The Unlisted The Unlisted Holding Pty Limited, The Unlisted Production SPV Pty Limited ABC


Alien TV (Australia/Canada) Pop Family Entertainment Nine
Drop Dead Weird series 2 (Australia/Ireland) Ambience Entertainment Pty Limited Seven

Online Drama (incl SVOD, BVOD, YouTube):

Australia’s Best Street Racer One Stone Pictures Pty Ltd YouTube
Beached Aziversary Robot Army Productions Pty Ltd YouTube
Bloom series 1 Playmaker Media Pty Ltd Stan
Bondi Slayer Cobran Road Productions Pty Ltd, Toybox Films Pty Ltd YouTube
Carpark Clubbing Bistro Pty Ltd ABC iview
Cloudy River unko Pty Ltd TBD
Content Ludo Studio Pty Ltd ABC iview
Glennridge Secondary College Aunty Donna Pty Ltd, Dirty Puppet, Haven’t You Done Well Productions Pty Ltd YouTube
Halal Gurls In-Between Pictures Pty Ltd ABC iview
Internment Ruby Entertainment Pty Ltd YouTube
KGB Mad Kids Pty Ltd ABC iview
Lah Lah’s Stripy Sock Club Lah-Lah Productions Pty Ltd ABC iview
Meta Runner Glitch Productions Pty Ltd YouTube
Mining Boom Thirsty Head Productions Pty Ltd Facebook / YouTube
Nightwalkers Fideo Films Pty Ltd ABC iview
Over and Out Midwinter Films Pty Ltd YouTube
Phi and Me Phi And Me TV Pty Ltd YouTube
Robbie Hood Ludo Studio Pty Ltd, Since1788 Productions Pty Ltd SBS on Demand
Sarah’s Channel Yellow Creative Management Pty Ltd, Sarah’s Channel Pty Ltd ABC iview
The Drop Off series 2 Kiss & Go Productions Pty Ltd YouTube
The Gloaming Sweet Potato Films Pty Ltd, The Two Jons Pty Ltd Stan
The Listies Work for Peanuts Bob Pictures Pty Ltd YouTube
The Nevernight Chronicles Ares Films Pty Ltd YouTube
The Other Guy series 2 Aquarius Films Pty Ltd, Wooden Horse Pty Ltd Stan
YouTube Famous Not So Famous Productions Pty Ltd YouTube

Online Single Episode 

Lucy and DiC We Made A Thing Studios Facebook / YouTube
No Activity: The Night Before Christmas Jungle Entertainment Pty Ltd, No Activity Christmas Pty Ltd Stan

Online Drama Co-Productions

The New Legends of Monkey series 2 Monkey 2 Productions Pty Ltd Netflix


Free TV  Australia:

Free TV CEO Bridget Fair said: “Free TV broadcasters proudly invest over 80 per cent of their programming expenditure on local content and that includes Australian drama programming. In 2018, commercial free-to-air networks once again broadcast more than 430 hours of first-release Australian drama.

“Despite increasing competition from new platforms, and in the face of the huge structural change facing our industry, we continue to produce great Australian drama on free-to-air screens with programs like Home and Away, Secret Bridesmaids’ Business, Bad Mothers, SeaChange, Five Bedrooms and Neighbours.

“Critically, the Screen Australia report also shows that the costs of making drama in Australia have significantly increased. Over the past 10 years, the cost per hour of drama production has doubled.

“The real take-out from today’s report is that we need to address the sustainability of the current Australian content regulatory framework. While our competitors are free to respond to changes in audience demand, we are still operating under an onerous and very restrictive regulatory framework that was created in the 1990s and doesn’t acknowledge that viewers have moved on.

“The production industry in Australia is thriving and there is no shortage of high quality Australian content available for local audiences. Free TV broadcasters need additional flexibility to adapt to modern viewing habits and we urge the Government to modernise the framework to enable broadcasters to continue delivering the content that audiences want to watch.”

Screen Producers Australia:

CEO Matthew Deaner said, “It is great to see that over $1.17 billion was spent on drama production in Australia in 2018/19. In particular, it is gratifying to see that a record $768 million was spent on Australian content. The report is a tribute to the skills and talents of the sector.

“Given the growth in online streaming platforms, this is where the real opportunity lies to take Australian stories to the world and gain from all the cultural and export benefits that this brings, but only if we get the regulatory settings right.

“SPA commends Screen Australia on this important piece of work. Of course, expenditure is only one measure of the industry’s success. We look forward to working with the Government and other stakeholders to create a regulatory framework that will drive the long-term sustainability of the Australian screen industry.”


Michael Carrington, ABC Director Entertainment & Specialist, said: “Great Australian drama helps define who we are as a nation, echoing and exploring our priorities, perspectives and place in the world. Audiences here and overseas want to see Australian stories and voices on screen and the ABC is proud to lead the way as the nation’s biggest backer of homegrown content and creativity.”

Full report at Screen Australia

5 Responses

  1. Very interesting article. So many shows I didn’t get to watch, so I can’t judge the quality, but I find most Australian drama is good. Would love to see more production coming out of Tasmania, a wonderland of locations available to film in. There’s Rosehaven of course, but it features limited locations and doesn’t really highlight the best of Tassie.

  2. So productivity declined and many may well argue that quality also declined. The latter is subjective, but costs rising substantially by while output hours increase by only 4% is not very healthy long term.

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