Amazon is investing big in Australian content as the government pushes streaming giants to produce locally

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  • Amazon has announced a major investment in local Australian content, in line with increasing spending on local content by streaming companies globally.
  • The news follows a similar announcement from Netflix in April, which said it wanted to create more diverse content for the Australian market.
  • Globally, countries are developing policies that force the global streaming giants to reinvest their massive revenue back into local productions.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon Prime Video’s has promised to invest $150 million into Australian content, as streaming giants begin diversifying production into local markets.

Amazon said its investment would lead to the creation of more than 2,500 jobs across Australia as the number of original programs created bumps up to 14.

New projects announced include documentary Burning from executive producer Cate Blanchett; The Moth Effect, a satirical, six part sketch comedy; and Head Above Water, a docuseries following elite swimmers in the lead up to the Olympics Games in July.

Erika North, the head of original content in the Asia Pacific arm of Amazon Studios said the company was committed to “putting the spotlight on the very best stories from Australian creators” that would appeal to both Australian audiences and international viewers.

Tyler Bern, the head of content for Prime Video Australia echoed this statement, saying Australian viewers wanted to see diverse programming that showcased Australian storytellers and talent, adding the company was “delighted to be working with some of the best filmmakers, writers, directors, producers and actors in the world.”

It comes just weeks after Netflix threw down the gauntlet, announcing it would begin funnelling money into Australian productions, beginning with Byron Baes, a reality show tracking the lives of Byron Bay influencers.

The streaming giant has been expanding its reach with a strategy focused on local markets, including Australia.

After bringing on a director of local content in June of 2020 with the express purpose of developing diverse content in the market, Netflix rolled out a roster of original Australian content in 2020, including comedy specials “Nanette” and “Douglas” from Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby.

The moves by both Amazon and Netflix comes as competition in streaming becomes increasingly competitive — and countries push for a cut of revenue.

Late last year the federal government was investigating a new policy that would compel global content platforms to spend a proportion of local revenue on Australian content.

In November of 2020 a new green paper, released by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, outlined four major policy changes to Australia’s media and content landscape, a result of the digital platforms inquiry aimed at creating a unified regulatory system.

These proposals include introducing spending obligations where streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ would have to reinvest a portion of local earnings into local content.

While government action is currently stalled, with the consultation period for the paper due to end in May, it would follow a raft of similar legislation globally.

In March last year, Canada unveiled legislation to regulate US streamers, requiring them to subsidise the development, production and distribution of local content. The European Union has enacted a similar law for its member countries.

Local content requirements would boost the Australian television production industry by a “transformative” $400 million, Australian production company Northern Pictures told the Australian Financial Review in April this year.

“We can’t understand why the government doesn’t see this as a no-brainer,” Northern Pictures owner David Haslingden said. “For the major part, that money is being extracted out of the country by companies that pay zero tax in Australia.”