2 NOV 2023

Australia spent $2.34 billion in 213 productions in 2022/23

Screen Australia’s 33rd annual Drama Report released today shows the second highest expenditure ever on scripted screen production in Australia, with $2.34 billion spent across a record 213 titles in 2022/23.

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Screen Australia's 33rd annual Drama Report released today shows the second highest expenditure ever on scripted screen production in Australia, with $2.34 billion spent across a record 213 titles in 2022/23. Despite being slightly down (4%) on last year's record expenditure, which saw $2.43 billion spent across 171 drama productions, this is significantly above the 5-year average. "We're proud to report the second highest drama spend ever in Australia. It has been remarkable witnessing the unprecedented surge in production in Australia in recent years. The 2022/23 Drama Report highlights another stellar year for drama production in Australia," Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said.

Australian titles made up $1.13 billion of total spend. Although expenditure by Australian subscription TV and Subscription Video-on-demand (SVOD) has decreased this year, growth in Free-to-Air (FTA) TV and Broadcaster Video-On-Demand (BVOD) has helped to offset those declines to deliver the second-highest Australian expenditure on record. Spending on children's drama across TV and VOD platforms increased from last year but has not returned to previous highs. Expenditure on Australian theatrical features declined from last year's record high, driven by fewer big-budget titles.

"This year's Drama Report showcases the dynamic landscape of drama, with significant expenditure coming from several different categories. A record Australian PDV spending and continued spending from subscription TV and SVOD titles, such as the upcoming Heartbreak High series 2, High Country and Prosper, and an increase in Australian FTA TV and BVOD spend, coming from titles such as Total Control series 3, RFDS series two and While the Men are Away have helped to deliver a fantastic result. We have also seen TV and VOD titles such as Neighbours exploring new hybrid distribution models, releasing on both FTA and SVOD platforms in a short window," Mason said.

2022/23 also saw record expenditure in Australia from foreign titles ($1.22 billion, up from $904 million in 2021/22). In particular, this was driven by record expenditure from foreign titles shooting in Australia ($809 million), an increase of 83% from 2021/22, and another year of significant spending from foreign titles conducting Post, Digital, and Visual effects work (PDV) in Australia. "Big-budget foreign productions like The Fall Guy and The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes that shoot in Australia have incredible flow-on benefits for local businesses, communities, and the broader economy, and allow local cast and crew to acquire experience and new skills. Further, the international demand for our PDV expertise reflects the confidence of global companies in our talent and technology," Mason continued.

New South Wales set a new record for the third year running, with over $1.3 billion in expenditure in 2022/23, accounting for 56% of the national total. Queensland also set a new record, with a total expenditure of $581 million, 23% above last year. Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia all saw declines, with spending falling 45%, 52% and 9% respectively. Combined spending in the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, and Tasmania declined to $4 million in 2022/23. "It's fantastic to see New South Wales and Queensland continue to go from strength to strength. Like any industry, the demand for production and post-production services and particular filming locations will understandably come in ebbs and flows. What's important is these results illustrate that the states and territories are generating significant activity domestically and are establishing themselves as premier destinations for foreign projects. There's no denying our screen practitioners, and businesses continue to punch above their weight both domestically and on the international stage. As we look to the future, we need to ensure that we stay on top of our game – by working together with industry and the state and territory agencies to foster the skilled workforce this level of production critically needs," Mason said.

Australian theatrical features saw total expenditure of $363 million in 2022/23, a 54% decrease in spending since 2021/22 and 17% below the 5-year average. This drop can be attributed to having fewer big-budget theatrical features, with only one big-budget title in 2022/23. In contrast, the previous year's record-high spending was driven by several big-budget features such as "Furiosa," "Foe," and "Better Man." 

Australian general FTA TV and BVOD drama grows for a third consecutive year. This segment encompasses drama content designed for family and adult audiences, initially released on FTA television channels such as ABC, NITV, SBS, Seven, Nine, and 10, or their respective online platforms like ABC iview, SBS On Demand, 7plus, 9Now, and 10 play. Australian general FTA TV and BVOD expenditure increased by 26% in 2022/23. This growth was driven by a significant uptick in the number of titles (up by 21%), hours (up by 16%), and average cost-per-hour (up by 9%). In particular, this strong performance was driven by series and serials, such as "Home and Away" (Seven), "Neighbours" (10), "In Limbo" and "Mother and Son" (ABC). Other titles included mini-series such as "Total Control" series 3 (ABC) and "Paper Dolls" (10), and single-episode titles such as "Night Bloomers" (SBS).

Australian general subscription TV and SVOD drama experiences another year of high spending. This category encompasses drama content tailored for family and adult audiences, initially released on subscription TV platforms like Foxtel, Foxtel Now, Foxtel Go, and other Foxtel services, or subscription VOD platforms including Amazon Prime, Binge, Disney+, Netflix, Paramount+, and Stan. In 2022/23, expenditure on Australian general subscription TV and SVOD drama experienced an 11% decline from the record high of the previous year. However, it remains the most significant spend category within Australian TV and VOD. The year saw a higher concentration of big-budget titles than previous years, with seven out of 21 SVOD titles having budgets over $20 million, in contrast to eight out of 30 titles in 2021/22. Stan held the most significant single share of total titles and total hours in this category (38% and 33%, respectively), consistent with last year's trend.

Australian general AVOD, TVOD, and online drama have grown significantly. This category includes drama content aimed at family and adult audiences, initially released on an array of free platforms like AVOD services such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, TVOD platforms like iTunes, and various emerging online services. Australian general AVOD, TVOD, and other online dramas experienced significant growth across most key indicators. Spending increased by 74% since 2021/22 (from $3 million to $5 million), increasing to 61% above the 5-year average. This was driven by a doubling of the number of titles (12 to 24) and an almost tripling of hours produced (11 to 29).

It has been a record-breaking year for foreign productions shooting in Australia. The total foreign spending ($1.22 billion) in 2022/23 was primarily driven by record expenditure from foreign titles shooting in Australia. These foreign shoot titles spent $809 million, an all-time record and 83% above the previous year. This record foreign shoot spend was primarily accounted for by a handful of big-budget theatrical features, including "The Fall Guy," "Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire," and "Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes."

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