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All TV Drama formats

Number of TV drama programs produced, number of hours and total production budgets (current dollars*), 1990/91–2019/20

Next update December 2021

After significant growth through the 1990s, with budgets peaking at $495m in 2000/01, the TV drama slate – Australian and foreign telemovies, mini-series, series and serials – experienced a short-term decline in the first half of the 2000s.

Since then, total production budgets for the TV drama slate have risen again and, since 2010/11, have been above the previous decade’s average of $342 million.

Between 1990/91 and 1999/00, an average of 50 programs were produced annually with total budgets of $276 million each year. Most of these were Australian (including co-productions), with an average of 44 programs per year and total budgets of $229 million. In the following decade, 2000/01 to 2009/10, the full TV drama slate averaged 47 titles and total budgets of $342 million per year, including an average of 42 Australian programs with total budgets of $285 million.

After the previous year’s all-time high, budgets in 2019/20 fell by 55 per cent to $254 million. This was a likely consequence of the coronavirus pandemic that saw several drama productions, of varying budget levels, postponed until 2020/21 or possibly later. The number of Australian titles, and associated metrics – hours, budgets and spend - were all down on 2018/19.

The level of foreign TV drama production is mainly impacted by fluctuations in the number of telemovies made here. The peak of 16 titles in 2000/01 was the result of 14 foreign telemovies starting production, due in part to the acceleration of production schedules by US companies to avoid strike action in that country.

For more details, see TV drama spending in Australia and Drama production overview: Focus on production.