2021 -22 Drama Report: Streaming spend leads to record high

A significant increase in expenditure by streaming platforms is good news, but there are still concerns around Children's TV.

Production in Streaming titles has lifted expenditure in Australian drama to record levels.

Including Film, scripted screen production hit an all-time high of $2.29 billion -up on $1.914 billion in 2020 – 2021.

Australian subscription TV and Subscription Video On Demand tripled in titles, hours and budgets from 2020/21.

Free to Air TV saw small lifts on the previous pandemic-impacted period, but remains down on 5 year trends. In Children’s TV commercial networks produced just one title, 10’s Rock Island Mysteries, while Streamers also produced a single title, Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance! on Netflix.

A word of note: Previously, Australian titles were sorted into four categories: feature films, general TV drama, children’s TV drama, and online drama.

Australian drama is now categorised as:

• Australian theatrical features
• Australian general TV and VOD drama
* Australian general FTA TV and BVOD drama
* Australian general subscription TV and SVOD drama
* Australian general AVOD, TVOD and other online drama
• Australian children’s TV and VOD drama.

Expenditure incl. film: (previous year totals in brackets)

$2.29 billion -up on $1.914 billion in 2020 – 2021. The increase was driven by a record spend on Australian theatrical features ($786 million up from $495 million last year), as well as a record spend on Australian subscription TV and Subscription Video On Demand – for which number of titles, hours and budgets have tripled from 2020/21.

Spend on Free-to-air (FTA) TV and Broadcast Video On Demand drama, and children’s drama across TV and VOD platforms also increased from last year, but has not returned to previous highs in either category.

62 Australian general TV and VOD drama titles — $655 million  (previously $874 million).

24 Free to Air titles (21) totalling $208 million expenditure ($201m), an increase of 8% on last year, but 8% below the 5-year average. Hours were 278 (329).

29 Australian general subscription TV and SVOD drama titles — $445 million spend ($125m).

11 Children’s titles in 2021/22 across television, SVOD and online (previously 7 FTA ) at $67m (previously $48m).

Children’s Television

Note: In previous Drama Reports, the Children’s TV drama category was limited to content first released on FTA or subscription (cable and satellite) TV. Children’s drama titles first released online, including SVOD and BVOD titles, were included in the Australian online drama section. In this report, all Australian children’s drama created for TV and online release that meets criteria for inclusion is reported in this new Australian children’s TV and VOD drama category, providing a more holistic view of children’s drama production.

11 Children’s titles in 2021/22 across television, SVOD and online (7) at 58 Hours (39) increased by 12% from last year.

The number of animated titles remained the same as the previous year, and the number of live-action titles was
also the same as 2020/21.

ABC financed eight, including animations 100% Wolf: The Book of Hath, First Responders, Ginger and the Vegesaurs and Kangaroo Beach series 2, and live action titles Beep and Mort, Crazy Fun Park, First Day series 2 and The PM’s Daughter. NITV financed the live-action series Barrumbi Kids. One title that entered production in 2021/22 was financed by the commercial free-to-air broadcasters, Rock Island Mysteries (Network 10), and Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance! was financed by Netflix.

Foreign incl film:

Total spend on foreign shoot and Post, Digital and Visual Effects-only titles came to $777 million in 2021/22, down by 27% on last year’s expenditure, but 35% above the 5-year average.

Foreign titles that shot in Australia reached $442 million ($530 million), including Joe vs Carole, Nautilus, La Brea series 2 and Young Rock series 2.

In contrast, spend on foreign PDV-only titles rose to a new record of $335 million.

Sources of Finance

Domestic governments, government agencies and the public broadcasters provided 44% of total finance for Australian TV and VOD drama in 2021/22. Over the last five years, these sources made up 42% of total finance. With the public broadcasters again included, Federal Government sources contributed 37% of total finance for
Australian TV and online drama in 2021/22. The Producer Offset, ABC, and Screen Australia provided the vast majority of Federal Government funding.

The state and territory agencies contributed$44 million for 58 titles. Screen NSW and VicScreen provided 64% of this funding. Nearly $10 million of direct government funding was provided by the ACTF, the Federal Location Incentive, local councils, the Melbourne Film Festival and the Adelaide Film Festival and other government agencies.

Drama production by location incl. film

New South Wales $1.038b ($912m) 45%: set a new record for the second year in a row, and also accounted for the largest share of total spend in Australia.

Queensland $465m ($553m) 20%: spend fell after last year’s all-time high.

Victoria $556m ($307m) 24%: spend reached an all-time high in 2021/22.

South Australia $144m ($96m) 6%: spend reached the second-highest result on record for South Australia.

Western Australia $26m ($29m) 1%: spend fell for the fifth consecutive year and was below the 5-year average.

ACT/NT/Tasmania $57m ($18m) 2%: more than three times the previous year’s spend and an all-time high for the combined territories and state.


Drama Series

After The Verdict Subtext Pictures Pty Ltd Nine
Aftertaste series 2 Closer Productions Pty Ltd ABC
Appetite Appetite Show Pty Ltd, Fell Swoop Pictures Pty Ltd, Photoplay Films Pty Ltd SBS
Barons Switchfoot Productions Pty Ltd ABC
Bay of Fires Archipelago Productions Pty Ltd, Fremantle Australia ABC
A Beginner’s Guide to Grief Kojo Studios Pty Ltd SBS
Fisk series 2 Origma Productions Pty Ltd ABC
Home and Away series 35 Seven Network Operations Limited Seven
Housos: The Thong Warrior Antichocko Productions Pty Ltd Seven
It’s Fine, I’m Fine Photoplay Films Pty Ltd SBS
Latecomers Emma Myers, Lazy Susan Films Pty Ltd SBS
The Messenger Lingo Pictures Pty Ltd ABC
Mystery Road: Origin Bunya Productions Pty Ltd ABC
Neighbours 2022 series Fremantlemedia Australia Pty Ltd 10
Night Bloomers Turn About Entertainment SBS
Safe Home Kindling Pictures SBS
Savage River Aquarius Films Pty Ltd ABC
Significant Others Fremantlemedia Australia Pty Ltd ABC
Soundtrack to Our Teenage Zombie Apocalypse Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC
Summer Love Gristmill Pty Ltd ABC
Time to Buy: A Musical The Feed (SBS) SBS
Troppo EQ Media Production Pty Ltd, Troppo Productions Pty Ltd, Beyond Entertainment Pty Ltd ABC
True Colours Bunya Productions Pty Ltd SBS
Underbelly: Vanishing Act Screentime Pty Ltd Nine

Australian General Subscription TV and SVOD Drama.

Bad Behaviour Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd Stan
Bali 2002 Screentime Pty Ltd, Endemol Shine Australia
Pty Ltd, Esa Productions 5 Pty Ltd Stan
Black Snow Goalpost Television Pty Ltd Stan
Bump series 2 Roadshow Rough Diamond Stan
Bump series 3 Roadshow Productions Pty Ltd Stan
Christmas on the Farm Hoodlum Entertainment Stan
Class of ’07 Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd Amazon Prime
Colin from Accounts Easy Tiger Productions Pty Ltd Binge
Darby & Joan Cordell Jigsaw Productions Pty Ltd Acorn TV
Deadloch Guesswork Television Pty. Ltd., Amazon Studios, Ok Great Productions Amazon Prime
Faraway Downs Bazmark Fim Pty Ltd Disney+
Firebite See-Saw Films Pty Ltd AMC+
Five Bedrooms series 3 Hoodlum Active Pty Ltd Paramount+
Five Blind Dates Goalpost Pictures Australia Pty Ltd, Amazon Studios Amazon Prime
Heartbreak High Fremantlemedia Australia Pty Ltd, NewBe Netflix
Irreverent Matchbox Productions Pty Ltd Netflix
Koala Man Princess Bento Studios, Bento Box Entertainment Disney+
Last King of the Cross Helium Pictures Pty Ltd Paramount+
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart Made Up Stories Pty Ltd, Amazon Studios, Endeavor Content Amazon Prime
Love Me series 1 Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia Pty Ltd Foxtel
Perfect Pairing, A Hoodlum Entertainment and Hoodlum Active Pty Ltd Netflix
Poker Face Arclight Films International Pty Ltd Stan
A Royal in Paradise The Steve Jaggi Company TBA
The Secrets She Keeps series 2 Lingo Pictures Pty Ltd Paramount+
Spreadsheet series 1 Northern Pictures Productions Pty Ltd Paramount+
The Twelve The Twelve Films Pty Ltd, Warner Bros. International Television Production Australia Pty Ltd, Easy Tiger Productions Pty Ltd Foxtel
Upright series 2 Lingo Pictures Pty Ltd Foxtel
Wellmania Fremantle Australia Netflix
YOLO: Silver Destiny series 2 Princess Pictures Pty Ltd, Club World Pty Ltd, Koala Man Pty Ltd The Cartoon Network (USA)

Australian Children’s TV and VOD Drama – Domestic

100% Wolf: The Book of Hath Flying Bark Productions Pty Ltd ABC
Barrumbi Kids Ambience Entertainment Pty Ltd, Tamarind Tree Pictures Pty Ltd NITV
Beep and Mort Windmill Pictures Pty Ltd ABC
Crazy Fun Park Werner Film Productions Pty Ltd ABC
First Day series 2 Epic Films Pty Ltd ABC
First Responders Back To Back Pictures Pty Ltd ABC
Ginger and the Vegesaurs series 1 Cheeky Little Media Pty Ltd ABC
Gymnastics Academy: A Second Chance! Glenpictures Pty Ltd, Maximum Effort Productions Pty Ltd Netflix
Kangaroo Beach series 2 Cheeky Little Media Pty Ltd ABC
The PM’s Daughter series 1 Fremantlemedia Australia Pty Ltd ABC
Rock Island Mysteries series 1 Fremantlemedia Australia Pty Ltd 10


Screen Australia:

“Hitting well over the $2 billion mark is an incredible milestone for our sector, and it’s truly a bumper year for Australian scripted content – to have local productions make up 66% of this spend is extraordinary. Distinctly Australian stories continue to captivate audiences here and overseas, with Heartbreak High reaching the top 10 on international Netflix charts, and shows from Bluey to Bump taking the world by storm.

“We know the value and power of Australian children’s stories, and it’s vital for our kids and our national identity that Aussie children are able to see themselves reflected on screen. Children’s content has declined from historic highs as the sector adjusts to digital disruption, new audience habits, and changed content regulations and funding support. Despite this there are still high quality projects going into production with some wonderful titles to enjoy from this year’s slate including Barrumbi Kids shot in the Northern Territory, Crazy Fun Park in Victoria, Beep and Mort in South Australia, Rock Island Mysteries in Queensland and The PM’s Daughter in Canberra and New South Wales,” Mason continued.

“Our focus now is to work together with the industry to address gaps in skills and capacity that have come as a result of the production boom, to ensure we are in the best position to keep up the pace and further boost the potential of Australian stories and storytellers.”

Screen Producers Australia:

“Screen Producers Australia (SPA) today welcomed the release of the Screen Australia Drama Report 2021/22, which continues to highlight the volatility of the screen sector with a range of recent factors generating both pressures and opportunities for Australian screen productions and the people and businesses that make them. While generating a nice top-line result, a lot more needs to be done to address the underlying challenges the sector faces.

“The new record for total Australian drama expenditure of $1.15 billion midst an overall total spend of $2.29 billion is welcome, and points to the importance of the Australian screen industry to Australia’s creative economy which is likely to be in total more than four times as large as this drama report captures.

“It also demonstrates the capacity of the Australian screen industry to grow rapidly, in response to investment opportunities. SPA believes that conditions are right to capitalise on this growth through increased skills development and an industry plan for well-managed and permanent growth.

“SPA also welcomes the increase in spending on drama in 2021/22 by Australian and foreign online streaming services that contributed $186 million to 24 titles, representing a significant step up of investment.

“This brings SVOD services even closer to the 20% minimum investment requirement sought by SPA as an ongoing commitment to Australian screen content.

“For context, SPA notes that these figures capture only one year, so it is important to weigh any record spend against the 5-year averages. SPA also notes that this report is for drama only, and that Australian audiences value diversity of screen content across all genres.

“Achieving a consistent and transparent reporting methodology for screen industry data by Screen Australia and the ACMA is an important goal and should be a focus of outcomes associated with the National Cultural Policy under current development.

“For example, SPA notes that the figures for Australian VOD drama applied by Screen Australia include titles that are not likely to be considered “Australian” under the definition applied by the industry regulator, the ACMA. SPA believes a consistent framework for the collection and reporting of screen industry data across all platforms of free-to-air, subscription, and streaming services is of critical importance.

“SPA remains concerned about the continued downward trend in hours and investment from commercial free-to-air channels which reflects the damaging deregulation of this sector under the previous government.

“These vastly lowered requirements are completely at odds with an expectation that Australians should be able to view a range of well-made content on freely available services that in turn benefit from industry protection through the anti-siphoning scheme as well as the use of public assets in the form of spectrum for their delivery to audiences.

“This harmful deregulation also hastened the trend for the collapse in the number of series/serials produced by commercial broadcasters, with Home and Away (Seven Networks) and Neighbours (Network 10), providing the bulk of series and serials hours in this report.

“With the final episode of Neighbours having gone to air, this leaves continuing challenges for our sector which has benefitted from the training ground that long-running drama programs made for commercial television have traditionally provided. These programs, as well as children’s content, have key roles in developing talent in front of and behind the camera and our sector needs both to continue to ensure a healthy sector with key skills is maintained.

“The result for children’s content is again disastrous with only one title across a whole year being generated by commercial television businesses, and one by SVOD services despite all these businesses supplying Australian children with thousands of hours of foreign children’s content. Urgent regulation across these platforms is needed if we want to ensure our children can dream Australian dreams.

“The ABC has provided the only respite here doing all the heavy lifting for children’s content and together with SBS, continues to fund a strong backbone of Australian drama series. The ongoing delivery of steady investment in our sector by ABC, SBS and NITV continues to demonstrate how important it is for the Australian Government to provide ongoing, stable, transparent, and appropriate levels of funding to our national broadcasters.”

5 Responses

  1. I hold my hands up, I’m guilty of more than one streaming service only because it comes with Foxtel IQ5 and I don’t mind paying because FTA is becoming boring. A podcast a couple of days ago I listened to by an unnamed producer/TV critic hit the nail on the head when he said that surely this country should be over finding love, talent shows that are constantly revived and the viewer deserves better after all these years considering what is on off in the world. I agree 100%.

      1. In my defence I watch a minimum of reality shows, it’s the constant adds that are used to promote them that turn me off because the networks only show mostly the controversial bits to peak our curiosity. Example AGT on Seven latest promo “what did Kate (Richie) do! MAFS on Nine is another who try to rope people in by pulling on the curiosity strings. With any kind of marketing there is psychology involved, having studied how psychology is used in marketing for my BA I’m fully aware of how it is used to target people and don’t fall for it. Networks are aware of the tendency towards curiosity, but they invest so much into a show they can’t just abandon it if it doesn’t rate so they bump it but it doesn’t go away if ratings drop that takes ages.

  2. To my mind this increase of studio production activity was always in prospect especially with the year by year demand for more global streaming content, why this conclusion was not immediately appreciated maybe shows the glass half empty approach shown by some Australian content producers who wanted more local content quotas to be imposed on companies like Netflix (following EU examples) rather than research and develop an export market themselves. Successful drama production companies need to constantly monitor content demand and cater for what sells the best, this has not been the case in the US recently with billions wasted on large productions and consequentially once proud studios are now in financial strife, this was not necessary if products being made reflected the interests of the audience and not a studio creative edict. Children’s TV is gradually being replaced by PC games, social media and YouTube.

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