Streaming: Netflix And Disney Announce Australian Content Plans, But Quota Questions Linger

Streaming: Netflix And Disney Announce Australian Content Plans, But Quota Questions Linger
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Australia’s ‘streaming wars’ look set to give local content a boost, with both Netflix and Disney signalling production plans.

Netflix today announced it has commissioned its second Australian drama series, a cyber-crime thriller Clickbait, to be filmed in Victoria.

The $36 million series will be given $4.9 million from the federal government through its Location Incentive program.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s soon-to-arrive rival Disney+ unveiled a host of its planned content at the D23 conference in the US over the weekend.

More than 7,500 television episodes and 500 movies will be available at launch and more than 45 original series are planned in the first year.

This is set to include the likes of The SimpsonsAvatar and X-Men as a result of Disney’s acquisition of Fox, and also a host of Disney classics.

There is also a host of original programming being created specifically for the platform, with 45 original series planned for the first year.

But Disney is also looking to give the platform a local spin, according to Disney direct-to-consumer and international division head Kevin Mayer.

Mayer told the Australian Financial Review Disney has opened the way for more production in Australia with Marvel Studio’s Thor: Love and Thunder to be filmed down under.

And while Disney and Netflix showing an interest in taking production to Australia is encouraging for the local industry, it is still a far cry from the local content quotas many have previously proposed.

Currently, the Australian Content Standard 2016 sets out minimum annual sub-quotas for Australian drama, documentary and children’s programs that all commercial free-to-air television broadcasters must meet.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher has previously indicated more needs to be done to even the field between FTA broadcasters and these international streaming companies.

“Free-to-air networks have an obligation to show a certain amount of Australian content… But streaming platforms like Netflix or YouTube don’t have such obligations, even though they’re capturing a huge number of eyeballs in the Australian market,” he said in light of the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Inquiry.

“And so, therefore, the call for harmonisation is something that, in principle, we’ve indicated we accept.”

Whether this means removing such quotas altogether or applying them to the likes of Netflix is yet to be seen.

Netflix has previously said enforcing content quotas would result in the production of low-quality and low-budget programming.

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