In January 2023, the Australian government announced plans to impose content quotas on international subscription video-on-demand services operating in the country in order to push streamers to invest back into local scripted production, with early reports suggesting up to 20% of revenue may need to be reinvested into local content.
For global SVOD services operating in Australia, the primary four being Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video and Paramount+, the introduction of these quotas could require substantial changes to their local commissioning strategies, depending on the ratio of local subscribers to local commissions, according to Ampere Analysis’ latest report.
Netflix currently has the highest number of subscribers in Australia, with 5.6 million, 2.2 million more than nearest rival Disney+. It is also the largest commissioner in the group, with eleven scripted TV or movie titles announced across 2021 and 2022, including limited series “Boy Swallows Universe,” expected to debut in 2023.
Meanwhile, global rival Prime Video finds itself some distance behind with less than half Netflix’s subscribers. However, its six scripted commissions in 2021-2022, including Australian version of the classic BBC workplace mockumentary “The Office,” give it a similar ratio of commissions to subscribers.
Performing far less well by this metric is Disney+, which despite having 3.4 million subscribers commissioned only three scripted titles in Australia across 2021 and 2022, including Dickens adaptation “The Artful Dodger,” and thriller “The Clearing,” based on the novel by JP Pomare. Even with premium titles, a ratio of 1.1 million subscribers per commission leaves the platform the most exposed to a potential quota.
At the other end of the spectrum is Paramount+, which despite having fewer than 1 million subscribers, ranked second among the streamers for Australian commissions. This ratio of local commissions against local subscribers makes Paramount+ safe from a potential local original content quota, but is arguably economically unsustainable long-term.
“Until now, local content in Australia has been a relatively low priority for the global SVODs, as US content is notably popular with Australian audiences. A content quota would require these platforms to balance audience demand and the quota’s requirements. This balancing act will not only be for international streamers, but also for the Australian government, which will be keen not to alienate local viewers by harming the perceived quality offered by global platforms,” said Ampere Analysis’ Lindani Ngcokotho, the author of the report.