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documentary production
Activity Summary

Number of titles, hours and total production budgets (current dollars*) for Australian documentaries, 1997/98–2017/18

Next update July 2020


Australia has produced more than 8,000 hours of documentaries since 1997/98, an average of 383 hours per year – 74 per cent by independent production companies and the rest in-house by broadcasters.

Independent production companies have accounted for an average of 283 hours per year over the period.

The five years to 2017/18 saw independent documentary production reach new highs, averaging 386 hours (153 titles) produced and $155 million in total budgets annually.

This increase can be attributed to series production, which has risen from 239 hours per year (average 2007/08–2011/12) to 307 hours per year (average 2013/14–2017/18). The production of single-title documentaries has remained steady in terms of hours, with 79 hours per year (average 2013/14–2017/18). The number of single-title documentaries produced in 2017/18 was down by 15 per cent on 2016/17.

Australian commercial, public and subscription broadcasters have produced an annual average of 100 hours since 1997/98. In-house production levels have been largely static for each of the five-year periods between 1997/98 and 2012/13.  Each five-year period between 2013/14 and 2017/18 has been in steady decline, however the average budget in that same period has been increasing.

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