SPA | Australian Content Under Threat as Streaming Services Cut Spending – Screen Producers Australia (SPA) today welcomed the release of the ACMA’s Spending by subscription video on demand providers: 2022-23 financial year report.

“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 notes 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.

When it comes to children’s drama, the increase in spending is welcome; however, SPA notes 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 in this important genre.

It is also important to note that the availability of documentary programs has 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. 

“While the ACMA report provides important quantitative data about spending by SVODs, there is an important qualitative issue resulting from the strong market power of streaming platforms as the main commissioners of content from Australian producers. 

“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. 

“SPA is continuing to engage with members and the Australian Government on how we can ensure that we get the right policy settings to continue to grow our industry, creating good skilled jobs and ensuring audiences can see and hear Australian stories,” concluded Mr Deaner.

Media Release – Screen Australia

SPA | Australian Content Under Threat as Streaming Services Cut Spending

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SPA | Australian Content Under Threat as Streaming Services Cut Spending
SPA | Australian Content Under Threat as Streaming Services Cut Spending

SPA | Australian Content Under Threat as Streaming Services Cut Spending