ABS tracks increased revenue for film, TV & gaming sector

Online content creators account for production growth

• Online content creators account for production growth

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released the results of its seventh Film, Television and Digital Games Survey covering the financial year 2015/16, including subscription video on demand (SVOD) services for the first time.

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 as new SVOD services are part of that category.

“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,” said Screen Australia’s Graeme Mason. “This sector is fertile ground for developing new talent and encouraging risk-taking and Screen Australia will continue to invest in this space.”

Since 2012 Screen Australia has funded 107 online projects including Soul Mates, The Katering Show and Starting from Now.

“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.”

The survey found a record 31,262 people were employed in the screen sector across 3,359 businesses, up from 29,671 employees in the previous survey (2011/12).

“Employment across the sector is up 5%, but the standout driver of this growth has been digital game developers, with employment up 26% since the 2011/12 survey,” said Mason.

Incredibly, 87,466 hours of first release broadcast and subscription television were made in Australia, with news and current affairs making up 57% (50,160 hours) and one of the cheapest formats to make with an average cost per hour of $11,900.

Drama is the most expensive format at $645,700 average cost per hour, representing 497 hours or 0.6% of total broadcast hours. Children’s drama represented 120 hours or 0.1% and is similarly expensive to make at $476,100 average cost per hour.

There were 444 broadcast hours of documentary at an average cost per hour of $230,000 and 347 non-TV documentary productions at an average cost of $117,900.

Compared to the 2011/12 survey, television drama is down from 632 hours to 497 and television documentary is down from 566 to 444 hours. “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 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.

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