Australia Extends Production Incentives to Netflix, Amazon

No Activity Deep Sea Fishing - Publicity - H 2018
Trae Patton/CBS

The expansion of the country’s location and postproduction, digital and VFX rebates are designed to boost locally-produced content on streaming platforms.

Streamers including Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as local providers Stan and Ten All Access, are now eligible for Australian production incentives after the federal government announced Friday it would extend the eligibility of its location and post, digital and visual effects (PDV) offsets to TV and miniseries distributed through online platforms. 

The move is aimed at boosting the local production sector by giving online productions the ability to claim refundable tax offsets if they meet the other eligibility requirements.

Local streamer Stan, owned by Nine Entertainment, has been the most active in commissioning Australian drama and comedies in recent years, with Stan original productions including the local and U.S. versions of No Activity, TV versions of Wolf Creek and Romper Stomper, and Bloom and upcoming series The Gloaming, a new eight-part drama from Sweet Potato Films’ Vicki Madden and 2 Jons. 

Netflix has commissioned just two Australian originals to date —Hoodlum’s Tidelands and Lunatics, a new series from comedian Chris Lilley, which premieres April 19. Netflix is also a production partner on dramas including Foxtel’s Secret City: Under The Eagle and Matchbox Pictures’ Glitch with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. among others. 

Ten All Access, a local version of Network Ten owners CBS Corp's. CBS All Access, and Amazon Prime have yet to announce specific commissions from this market. 

“Increased demand for our screen skills is essential to developing a sustainable sector,” communications minister Mitch Fifield said announcing the changes.

“Large-budget productions strengthen Australia’s capacity to produce high-quality stories for Australian and international audiences by providing skills development and training opportunities that go significantly beyond what can be achieved on smaller-budget productions,” Fifield added 

Debra Richards, CEO of locations marketing agency Ausfilm, said “SVODS are also major players in content and distribution globally, so the government’s decision to include SVOD television as an eligible platform to apply for the location and PDV offsets supports the Australian screen industry to increase opportunities for more work, more jobs, more training, more innovation and more growth of their business. Ausfilm is delighted with the government’s announcement of this resolution to the existing offsets.” 

Local guilds Screen Producers Australia and Australian Directors Guild have been agitating for local content quotas to be placed on streaming services to bring them into line with quotas on broadcasters and pay TV operators. 

The move comes a week after Fifield said the government would provide a grant of $18 million under its Locations Incentive program to Marvel to make its next, yet-to-be-announced feature in Australia. 

A statement said that production on the "Untitled Marvel Studios Feature Film" will take place later this year based at Fox Studios Australia and other locations around the country.

Australia’s incentive programs include the 30 percent post, digital and visual effects offset (a refundable tax rebate), a 16.5 percent locations offset and a locations incentive, capped at $25 million a year. The locations incentive "effectively" increases the location offset rate from 16.5 percent to 30 percent for eligible large-budget international productions.