Disney+ releases first wave of local content commissions with 9 Australian originals

The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand has today released its first wave of local content commissions and acquisitions for Disney+ with nine Australian originals launching in 2022/23.

Announced at an event held at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the slate of local content includes three scripted drama series, The Clearing, The Artful Dodger, Last Days of the Space Age; four Documentaries, Matildas: The World at Our Feet, Shipwreck Hunters Australia, Chasing Waves, Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW; and two lifestyle and factual general entertainment series, Donna Hay Christmas and What’s Your Toy Story?. Many of these shows will further expand Disney+’s adult-focused Star general entertainment offering.

All titles will be available locally and internationally on Disney+ with programming to be announced. The revealed series are part of a significant investment by The Walt Disney Company in Australian and New Zealand local commissions.

Last year, The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) published new figures that showed significant investment by the subscription video on demand (SVOD) sector into local screen content.

The data showed that global streaming platforms Amazon PrimeDisney+, and Netflix, as well as Nine-owned local platform Stan, spent over $153 million combined on Australian programming in 2019 and 2020.

The report found that over 80% of the expenditure from the four services was generated by commissioning new content across drama, children’s programs, documentaries, light entertainment, and other programming genres.

The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand senior vice president and MD, Kylie Watson-Wheeler, said: “The Walt Disney Company is thrilled to be bringing home-grown, premium Australian originals with familiar faces and places – not only to Aussie screens, and those across the ditch – but also to the world stage that is Disney+.

“Coming to Disney+ this year and next, our first wave of local content spans scripted drama, documentaries, lifestyle and factual entertainment genres. We’re leveraging the talents of renowned actors, prominent directors, producers and writers – more than 100 in total, before counting the additional cast, crew, extras and other local jobs and activity we’ll generate across the Australian production sector.

“Disney is undoubtedly the world’s most creative storytelling engine, and in this wave of local productions, we’ve fuelled up our creative processes in partnership with Australian production companies. Our storytelling and commissioning approach is unique and overlays local culture, mindset and humour – adding to the deep emotional connection that The Walt Disney Company is renowned for and that our audiences expect.

“The Walt Disney Company is making a significant investment in Australian and New Zealand local commissions. Our second wave of local and loved content is taking great shape, with many more shows in various stages of development, including fabulous original concepts coming out of New Zealand. The opportunities are endless, particularly in young adult, comedy, and rom coms, which our audiences can’t get enough of.”

Last month, Disney’s global streaming platform, Disney+ introduced an advertising-supported subscription offering globally in 2023, after first being launched in the United States by the close of 2022.

“It’s pretty clear that it’s working for Hulu, Disney, HBO. I don’t think we have a lot of doubt about this work. I think we’ll just get in and figure it out as opposed to testing it.

“It would be a plan layer. If you still want a plan-free option you’ll still have that. But if you’d rather pay a lower price and are ad tolerant, we’re going to cater to you also,” added Hastings.

Currently in the Australian market, the only paid streaming platforms with advertising are Kayo and live sport on Paramount+. There are several free advertising-supported platforms from free-to-air networks, including SBS On Demand, 9 Now, 10 Play, and 7 Plus.


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