Australian creators reach tens of millions of people around the world by creating content that appeals to underrepresented audiences and using non-traditional media to distribute it.
Screen Australia has released its Drama report 2022-23 which shows $2.34 billion was spent in Australia on 213 productions in the last financial year.
While there are plenty of hit local shows on streaming platforms and mainstream media channels, scroll about a third of the way through the 100-page report and you’ll get a glimpse of what’s happening in the online space and why it is an ecosystem to watch.
The viewing figures on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are staggering and, as Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason points out, it’s a sector that continues to grow.
“That’s where the largest number of viewers are,” Mr. Mason said.
“That’s where there’s the most content.
“A lot of it is obviously self-generated, self-funded and even self-uploaded. But we do a lot in this space and we’ve been doing it for many years…because I think it’s vital, culturally, it’s vital on the creative side and that’s where a lot of our new real content and our content creators are.”
Mr Mason said creators can achieve huge success on social media platforms.
He cites the RackaRacka brothers as an example.
It claims twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou have been funded by Screen Australia since 2015, creating content on their YouTube channel, which has garnered more than 1.1 billion views.
Mr Mason said one of the benefits of posting content on social platforms is the immediate reactions from viewers and the RackaRacka twins know how to capitalize on this.
“They post so much and get feedback very quickly from their peers and the public,” Mr. Mason said.
“So they hear and see what works, what doesn’t, and that really influences their stylistic and creative choices.
“It’s much more effective than spending millions of dollars and two years of your life making a TV show or five years of your life making a movie and it not coming to fruition.”
Succeeding on social media can lead to opportunities and recognition in other formats and the RackaRacka brothers are also a good example of this with the success of their 2023 feature film, Talk to Me.
“You watch this film, it’s extraordinary,” Mr. Mason said.
“And it’s become one of the most talked about films of the year with big directors like Jordan Peele and Peter Jackson saying it’s the best thing they’ve seen.”
Audiences are astronomical…and underserved
Lee Naimo, head of e-commerce and gaming at Screen Australia, says part of the reason online creators reach so many people is because their content travels internationally.
“This content is obviously not geoblocked,” Mr. Naimo said.
“So it’s accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world, with a device and an internet connection.
“And that often results in very large numbers.”
He gave a number of examples. The sketch creators behind the YouTube channel Superwog have received over 460 million views.
Meanwhile, the series Black As Rebooted, broadcast on Facebook, has around 195 million views.
Glitch Productions released a pilot episode of The Amazing Digital Circus two weeks ago and it has already racked up 55 million views with a single episode of their Meta Runner series garnering almost 30 million views.
“In terms of the internet, Screen Australia recognizes that this is a real avenue for emerging creators to not only get their first taste of working on bigger budget projects, but also to access a wide audience locally and globally,” said Mr. Naimo.
“It’s sort of become a real avenue for these talents to prove themselves, to create really unique and distinctive works, often quite specialized and niche, that speak to audiences that are really underserved at television, on mainstream television and cinema.”
Spending on online dramas and other content first released on social media or emerging online services has increased by 74% since 2021-22 and the number of titles entering production in 2022-23 doubled compared to the previous year.
With budgets generally much lower than those of a feature film or television series, more and more creators are turning to premium web series, as are the audiences.
There’s plenty more in the Screen Australia 2022-23 drama report that you can access here.