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documentary production
Activity Summary

Number of titles, hours and total production budgets (current dollars*) for Australian documentaries, 1997/98–2016/17

Next update July 2019


Australia has produced more than 7,400 hours of documentaries since 1997/98, an average of 374 hours per year – 73 per cent by independent production companies and the rest in-house by broadcasters.

Independent production companies have accounted for an average of 273 hours per year over the period.

The five years to 2012/13 saw independent documentary production reach new highs, averaging 365 hours (147 titles) produced and $144 million in total budgets annually, compared to the previous five years (2007/08–2011/12), with 311 hours (136 titles) and $111 million in total budgets annually. The upward trend of previous years continued in 2016/17, with all indicators above the averages for the previous five years.

This increase can be attributed to series production, which has risen from 239 hours per year (average 2007/08–2011/12) to 294 hours per year (average 2012/13–2016/17). The production of single-title documentaries has remained steady in terms of hours, with 72 hours per year (average 2012/13–2016/17). The number of single-title documentaries produced in 2016/17 was down by 13 per cent on 2015/16.

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 2011/12.  The period between 2012/13 and 2016/17 has seen a significant drop, averaging 86 hours and 46 titles, however the average budget in the same period saw an increase on the previous five years.

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