TV News is the one of the cheapest genres to produce and Adult Drama is the most expensive, according to the findings of an Australian Bureau of Statistics report.
Adult Drama averages $645,700 per hour. Children’s Drama follows at $476,100 average cost per hour. By comparison News & Current Affairs costs an average of $11,900 per hour.
The seventh Film, Television and Digital Games Survey found that over the financial year 2015 / 16 (including STV & SVOD), Adult Drama comprised 497 hours (0.6%) of total broadcast hours. Children’s drama represented 120 hours (0.1%).
By contrast News and Current Affairs made up 50,160 hours (57%) of total hours.
Television Drama is down
Compared to the last survey, in 2011 / 12, Television Drama is down from 632 hours to 497 hours.
The survey found overall income has increased from $11.9b (2011 / 12) to $12.1b (2015 / 16) with the major growth area being subscription broadcasters and channel providers, which was expected given subscription video on demand services were included for the first time.
A record 31,262 people were employed in the screen sector across 3,359 businesses, up from 29,671 employees in the previous survey.
“It is encouraging to see that for 2015 / 16 the total income of the screen sector was up, as was the number of people the industry employs,” said Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason. “The survey results also highlight pressures in the industry, such as the increasing cost of creating Drama. This, coupled with fragmenting audiences and technology changes, is having a real impact, starkly apparent in television this week.
Income of subscription broadcasters eclipses commercial free-to-air broadcasters
“Special mention must be made of online content creators who have delivered exponential production growth, now representing $93.6m of non-TV production costs compared to just $5.5m in the 2011 / 12 survey.
“This sector is fertile ground for developing new talent and encouraging risk-taking and Screen Australia will continue to invest in this space.”
“The industry growth has not been uniform, with the entry of SVOD services into the market seeing the income of subscription broadcasters eclipse commercial free-to-air broadcasters. However, the operating profit margin between the two is similar, with 9.2% for subscription and 10.6% for commercial free-to-air.”
Reduction in the amount of Australian stories on free-to-air
Television Documentary is down from 566 to 444 hours, at an average cost per hour of $230,000 and 347 non-TV documentary productions at an average cost of $117,900.
“Whilst we appreciate the cost per hour of Drama is up from $560,700 to $645,700, the reduction in the amount of Australian stories on free-to-air television is notable,” said Graeme Mason.
There were 112 domestic and foreign feature films made in the period, with an average cost per production of $4.6m. Some 3,248 episodes of web series were made in the period compared to just 107 in 2011/12.
Feature films, TV drama and children’s TV drama are the biggest drivers of income for production businesses, representing 30.7% of their $2.3b income.
Visual effects is the largest driver of income for film and video post-production businesses, delivering $124.4m or 31.2% of total income, followed by animation at 19.8%.
Screen Production Businesses
Total employment 2015/16
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Film, Television and Digital Games,
2015/16 (cat. no. 8679.0).