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documentary production
Activity Summary

Number of titles, hours and total production budgets (current dollars*) for Australian documentaries, 1997/98–2018/19

Next update August 2021


Australia has produced more than 8,600 hours of documentaries since 1997/98, an average of 392 hours per year – 75 per cent by independent production companies and the rest in-house by broadcasters.

Independent production companies have accounted for an average of 286 hours per year over the period.

The five years to 2018/19 saw independent documentary production continually increase, averaging 414 hours (163 titles) produced and $166 million in total budgets annually.

This increase can be attributed to series production, which has risen from 258 hours per year (average 2009/010–2013/14) to 332 hours per year (average 2014/15–2018/19). In 2018/19 the number of series produced by Independents increased to an all-time high of 93 (up on 79 in 2017/18).

The production of single-title documentaries has remained steady in terms of hours, with 82 hours per year (average 2014/15–2018/19). The number of single-title documentaries produced has continued to decline in 2018/19 contributing to 43 per cent of total independent production, compared to 54 per cent in 14/15.

Australian commercial, public and subscription broadcasters have produced an annual average of 99 hours since 1997/98. In-house production levels have been largely static for each of the five-year periods between 1997/98 and 2013/14.  Each five-year period between 2014/15 and 2018/19 has been in steady decline, however the average budget in that same period has been increasing.

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