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documentary production
Activity Summary

Number of titles, hours and total production budgets (current dollars*) for Australian documentaries, 1997/98–2015/16

Next update March 2018


Australia has produced more than 7,000 hours of documentaries since 1997/98, an average of 369 hours per year – 70 per cent by independent production companies and the rest inhouse by broadcasters.

Independent production companies have accounted for an average of 267 hours per year over the period.

The five years to 2011/12 saw independent documentary production reach new highs, averaging 311 hours (136 titles) produced and $111 million in total budgets annually, compared to the previous five years (2002/03–2006/07), with 232 hours (138 titles) and $63 million in total budgets annually. The upward trend of 2013/14 and 2014/15 continued in 2015/16, with all indicators above the averages for the previous five years.

This increase can be attributed to series production, which has risen from 145 hours per year (average 2002/03–2006/07) to 277 hours per year (average 2011/12–2015/16). The production of single documentaries has fallen, from 88 hours per year (average 2002/03–2006/07) to 71 hours (average 2011/12–2015/16). The number of single-title documentaries produced in 2015/16 was up by 12 per cent on 2014/15.

Australian commercial, public and subscription broadcasters have produced an annual average of 101 hours since 1997/98. Inhouse production levels have been largely static, averaging 105 hours (62 titles) and $14 million in total budgets per year between 2002/03 and 2006/07, and 106 hours (56 titles) and $13 million per year between 2007/08 and 2011/12. After a significant drop in 2014/15, inhouse production levels rose again in 2015/16 with 48 titles generating 87 hours and $14 million in budgets.

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