Netflix has revealed it has spent more than $1 billion on Australian-related programming since 2019, adding further fuel to the battle between subscription TV and free-to-air media companies over viewers’ access to content.
The two TV lobbying bodies Free TV Australia and ASTRA are going head to head over how their streaming service apps are displayed on smart televisions ahead of upcoming government legislation.
Free TV Australia is lobbying the government to ensure Australian audiences have the ability to choose the content they wish to view. This week it launched new research which found eight in ten Australians want to be able to easily find free TV services. Meanwhile, subscription TV body ASTRA, ran a full-page advertisement in The Australian claiming “The government wants to control your TV’.
In the midst of the stoush, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)’s released its report on spending by the subscription video on demand (SVOD) services.
Netflix seized the opportunity to promote its investment in Australian storytelling which includes $500 million on programming for childrens’ and young adults and a further $450 million on adult drama programs over the last four years. The investment comprises more than 80 new films and programmes, including internationally-recognised content such as Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette, Heartbreak High and Love on the Spectrum.
Bridget Fair, CEO of Free TV told Mediaweek that Netflix’s announcement highlighted its commitment to the local market.
“It signals that Netflix is seriously trying to compete in this market, so in that sense yes, we take all competition very seriously and that’s why we need to make sure that we are in touch with our own viewers and able to reach them.
“It’s open to anyone to compete, that’s fine. I think we are prepared to back our own ability to bring people programs that they want to watch.
“The 1.5 billion dollars that we (Free TV) invest into Australian content happens every year, year in and year out, it’s not going away.”
Netflix revealed that commissioned, co-commissioned and acquired first run Australian content had made up 95% of Netflix’s total Australian programming investment in 2022/23. With this content focused on the kids, drama and documentary genres. The remaining 5% of the expenditure went to the licensing of “older films and shows to build our catalogue and showcase the best of Australian film and TV”, according to a Netflix blog post.
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