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Australian documentary production
Activity Summary

Number of titles, hours and total budgets for Australian documentaries

Next update 2024

Since 1997/98, independent production companies have accounted for an average of 75 per cent of Australian documentary titles produced, and 77 per cent of total hours.

In the five years to 2021/22 independent documentary production averaged 452 hours (172 titles) produced and $199 million in total budgets annually.

In general, series production has been the driver of increased documentary production levels, rising from an average of 72 titles and 309 hours per year in the five years to 2016/17 to an average of 85 titles and 366 hours in the five years to 2021/22.

The production of single-title documentaries has remained consistent over time, with 86 titles and 87 hours per year (average 2017/18 -2021/22). 

In-house production from Australian commercial, public and subscription broadcasters accounted for an annual average of 30 titles and 64 hours in the five years up to 2021/22. In each five-year period between 2012/13 and 2021/22 there has been a steady decline in numbers and hours, with cost per hour in that same period gradually increasing.

A total of 207 documentary titles commenced production in 2021/22 generating 562 hours of content, 9% above the 5-year average. The number produced was slightly down (1%) on 20/21, while hours increased by 6%. Average cost per hour was 7% above the 5-year average, driven by a high number of series produced by independent production companies (95 titles).

Total budgets for documentaries that commenced production in 2021/22 was a record high at $247 million, with an 8% increase on 2020/21. Budgets were also 17% above the 5-year average.