No Activity is the perfect metaphor for TV production in Australia

Angus Kidman 26 October 2016

NoActivity

Stan is setting a good example, now it's time for Netflix to follow.

Last night I went to the "blue carpet premiere" for the second series of No Activity, Stan's hysterically funny, semi-improvised comedy about police staffers doing sweet FA. It's every bit as good as the first series and I thoroughly recommend watching it (the whole series debuts on Stan today). It's great to see an actual original Australian production appearing on streaming services, but it's still disturbingly uncommon.

Amongst local streaming services, Stan definitely has the best track record in this area. As well as No Activity, it has been behind shows such as the TV adaptation of Wolf Creek and wine comedy Plonk. Its upcoming slate includes three more comedy series: Merchants Of Misery (from the No Activity Team), The Other Guy and Chaperones.

Soon-to-depart Presto has been less busy, with its most notable activity being Home & Away specials and pregnancy comedy Let's Talk About. Presto's owner Foxtel does put quite a lot of money into local drama, but that generally ends up on pay TV rather than purely online. The ABC has been quite active in producing material that's only designed for iView, but its budgets are also severely limited.

What really stands out is that Netflix, by far the biggest provider in Australia, still hasn't put its money behind a completely original production. It has signed up global rights for the second series of ABC drama Glitch, and scored a similar deal for Pacific Heat, the Working Dog animated comedy produced for The Comedy Channel. That's a start, but it's not the same as funding a show right from the start.

Netflix constantly says that it is "open" to producing shows in Australia. It's time to stop saying that and start opening those wallets. Netflix's stated ambition is to offer 50% original programming around the world. It defies belief that Australian shows should not be part of that mix.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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