SVOD spend on Australian programs drops in 2022-23

SVOD spend on Australian programs drops in 2022-23

Reporting from the Australian Communications and Media Authority indicates Subscription video-on-demand providers Amazon, Disney+, Netflix, Paramount+, Prime Video and Stan spent $324 million on Australian programs in the 2022–23 financial year.

The expenditure is down from $335 million the previous year and included a $35 million decrease in commissioned programs largely within the adult drama and documentary genres and a $24 million increase in expenditure on acquired programs.

$453 million was spent on acquiring, producing or investing in 39 Australian-related programs but not all met the criteria of Australian content.

Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner said, “It is disappointing that in the context of Australia’s new National Cultural Policy, Revive, that these figures show that steaming services have decreased their spending on commissioning Australian programs this year – down by $34.6 million or 13.6% from the previous year.

“This drop in spending on Australian titles shows that until we have regulation of streaming platforms, Australian audiences are likely to keep seeing less Australian stories, not more.

“We also note that the growth in spending on non-Australian programs is up by $119.5 million to a record $452.9 million, confirming the recent Screen Australia Drama Report figures, which show all the growth in the Australian screen industry is happening for spending on producing foreign programs in Australia,” said SPA CEO, Matthew Deaner.

The Drama Report showed that spending on Australian drama was less than 50% of the overall drama spend for 2022-23, and that spending on foreign drama (TV and VOD drama and features) has increased from 37% of the total drama spend up to 52% of total drama spend.

“There’s no doubt that Australia has a strong screen industry with a remarkable global reputation, and it can absorb a growth in activity. However, it is important for the sustainability of our industry that there is a better balance between home-grown Australian stories and foreign titles,” continued Mr Deaner.

SPA also noted the rapid increase in both spending and hours of sporting programs on streaming platforms, with sport now making up around 77% of titles and 57.5% of hours of Australian programs available on streaming services. This seems to be at the expense of drama programming which at 14.96% from 22.5% in 2021/22.

SPA welcomed an increase in children’s drama, but noted a small decline in the number of hours and number of children’s drama programs available as a percentage of the total Australian programs made available in Australia and note the long-term decline in expenditure.

The availability of documentary programs has also declined markedly in recent years, being now just 3.43% of all Australian programs. In contrast, in 2019-20, documentaries represented nearly 7% of Australian programs available on streaming services – so a near 50% drop.

“The key question to ask here is how much of this overall $777 million spent by SVODs is resulting in these titles being owned by the Australian creator, with continuing evidence of a massive wealth transfer away from our creative industry into the hands of streaming businesses as our valuable intellectual property rights are increasingly being lost as a cultural asset.

“Who actually owns Australian stories is of critical importance to the future of our industry – having a stake in a program’s success drives local business viability and sustainability.

“If we only measure and value the spending dollars and don’t look deeper at how this spending is affecting our industry structure, we will continue to lose out and will have little to show for our public investment in this industry.

“Overall, this change in spending away from Australian content by streaming platforms shows the urgency of the Australian Government acting quickly to bring in regulation to ensure that Australian audiences can enjoy seeing Australian programs on these digital platforms.”