At the turn of the century Australians had limited choice when deciding what to watch. But less than two decades later, with Pay TV, streaming services and a multitude of online content, audiences are spoilt for choice.
After surveying 80 Australians on their current viewing habits, there is one clear loser in the war for eyeballs – free-to-air TV.
Hatch conducted a survey of Australians of varying ages to gauge their viewing habits. The results backed up the anecdotal evidence that older people were more likely to tune in to traditional television shows, while the younger generation were opting for digital content, such as YouTube.
Australian free-to-air TV isn’t performing well. In June this year, Channel 10 entered voluntary administration and the longevity of the channel is still in question.
Multi Media Buying and Planning Services managing director Meg Gossert said the reason the channel was struggling was because they were aiming their content at the wrong audience, saying the younger demographic isn’t where the money is.
She referred to the audience as “splintered” and attributed the failing TV ratings to online streaming, pay TV and the internet.
Hatch‘s survey results show the majority of 14 to 24 year olds (67 per cent) currently watch only 1 to 5 hours of free-to-air television per week. And 20 to 24 year olds watch even less (68 per cent watch 1 to 5 hours per week).
Rebecca Clark, 21, insists she only watches free-to-air for the reality shows.
“I get most of my news online. I really only watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette,” she told Hatch.
“I watch it because I love a bit of trash TV and that’s all free-to-air has to offer.”
Although older generations are still tuning in to watch traditional TV, no survey participants aged 14 to 24 watching more than 15 hours per week.
A trend apparent among young Australians is watching content online, such as Facebook and YouTube. Although those aged over 30 are still watching between 1 and 5 hours of online content, they are the age group that is least likely to engage in online content.
Alicia Camelleri, 19, says she watches between 6 and 8 hours per week of YouTube content.
“I watch mainly makeup tutorials,” she told Hatch.
“I like to watch recaps of TV series and I listen to music on there sometimes. I watch YouTube over free-to-air because it’s content I like to watch and it’s not really forcing anything down my throat, there’s no ads. I like watching YouTube because I have the freedom to watch what I like and block ads if I want to. I have the freedom to comment about what I think of the video. I get to help the creators curate content.”
Ben Rochlin, 27, is an exception in his age group. He says he watches more than 21 hours of content on YouTube a week.
“I watch a lot of political commentary, music, tech and gaming stuff via YouTube,” he said. “Content (on YouTube) is more accessible than it is on Netflix and free-to-air, and I can watch it whenever I like.”
Julie Rudan, 49, watches between 11 and 15 hours of free-to-air per week, a typical amount for people aged over 30.
“It’s what I know. I don’t understand YouTube or anything like that, I just stick to what I know,” she said.
“I understand why my daughters watch everything on their laptops; they grew up with the internet, but I grew up with TV and few stations.
“I’ll watch videos on Facebook if they come up, but I wouldn’t seek one out.”
It seems as though, regardless of the medium, those aged 30-plus don’t indulge in “binging” habits, except when watching Pay TV, such as Foxtel.
Earlier this month tech analyst firm Telsyte reported streaming video on demand (SVOD) was up by 30 per cent since last year. Netflix, which launched in Australia in March, 2015, dominates the SVOD market, with 55 per cent of 3.7 million Australians who pay for streaming services using Netflix. Telsyte predicts SVOD will overtake traditional Pay TV subscribers by June 2018.
Patrick Fayard, 21, watches 6 to 10 hours of Netflix per week.
“Netflix allows you to binge, you can just watch series after series,” he told Hatch. “It’s better than free-to-air, there’s more shows and movies on Netflix that I would want to watch and it’s cheaper than Foxtel or something like that.” – Ash Cant