Earlier this week, Canada introduced a new levy program on US streaming services like Disney+, where 5% of Canadian revenue must be paid to a central fund to create local content.  And there is legislation about to be pledged by the Australian government to do something similar next month, as many countries around the world have become worried about the US studios getting too much influence and local content getting reduced.

According to a new report from Screen Producers Australia (SPA), this new levy is needed as the impact of the global slowdown in production is causing a serious problem in Australia. 

A survey of the group’s members revealed that 80% of respondents cited “Less” or “Much Less” commissioning interest from streaming services compared to the same time last year. International streamers were revealed as the least engaged commissioners, with 38% and 36% of respondents, respectively, naming the streamers as “Less” or “Much Less” engaged than in 2023. The only streaming service that is commissioning content is the Australian streaming service, Stan. 

Respondents quoted a range of negative impacts of this slowdown, from the mental health of crew to the financing of projects, with 54% stating the slowdown was impacting every stage of the production process, from initial meetings to development and into production. One respondent quoted, “Every part of the development life cycle is moving at a glacial speed.” 

When asked what the most common reason given by the streamers for the slowdown was, respondents named a “Global slowdown in investment” as the top offender, though several noted “Awaiting Government regulation” as the true unsaid reason, with one respondent noting, “There is a wide gap between what the Networks SAY and what we KNOW is the reason.” 

Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner said in a statement:

“This data is alarming. With only one month left until the Australian Government’s proposed regulation of streaming services is due to start, it is clear screen producers and the workforce they employ are only just hanging on.  

Australian audiences need some guarantee of access to Australian stories via online streaming services, just like they have for other services. The screen industry has been extraordinarily patient throughout a lengthy consultation process. Still, we need the Albanese Government to deliver on this important cultural commitment with a robust framework that supports both the industry and audiences now and into the future”.

While we’ve seen many Australian originals released on Disney+ like “Artful Dodger”, “Shipwreck Hunters: Australia”, and “The Clearing”, there have been noticeably much fewer announcements of new original content from the region in the past year.  

Disney has been drastically reducing how much content it produces to save money and to make its streaming services profitable.  This reduction is being felt across the globe, and all of the major studios have been pulling back on their content creation as the peak era of TV has now passed, and profitability is now the goal rather than getting new subscribers.

Roger’s Take:  The slowdown of content is impacting everywhere, but it also highlights how the US streaming services have become so powerful that when they pull back, local content production drastically falls back, and it is why many governments are looking at ways to ensure local productions continue, saving jobs and cultures.   The eyes are now on how the Australian government is going to handle this situation, and it looks like the major streaming services are holding back from making any new decisions until they know what they are going to be required to do. 

Do you think Australia should implement a streaming service levy?  Let me know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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