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documentary production
Activity Summary

Number of titles, hours and total production budgets for Australian documentaries, 1997/98–2020/21

Next update 2023

Since 1997/98, independent production companies have accounted for an average of 74 per cent of Australian documentary titles produced, and 75 per cent of total hours.

In the five years to 2020/21 independent documentary production averaged 434 hours (168 titles) produced and $189 million in total budgets annually.

In general, series production has been a driver in increased production levels, rising from 288 hours per year (average 2011/12–2015/16) to 348 hours per year (average 2016/17–2020/21).

The production of single-title documentaries has remained steady in terms of hours, with 86 hours per year (average 2016/17-2020/21). The number of single-title documentaries produced in 2020/21 contributed to 52 per cent of total independent production.

Australian commercial, public and subscription broadcasters have produced an annual average of 76 hours in the five years up to 2020/21. In each five-year period between 2011/12 and 2020/21 there has been a steady decline in numbers and hours, with cost per hour in that same period gradually increasing.

A total of 208 documentary titles commenced production in 2020/21 generating 538 hours of content. The number produced is up by 10 per cent on 19/20, while hours increased by 18 per cent.

Total budgets for documentaries that commenced production in 2020/21 was a record high at $227 million, with the total number of titles made and volume of hours generated well above the 5-year averages.