Online TV viewing tsunami building February 10, 2017

Online TV viewing tsunami building

Australian media observers will have noticed a lot of debate on LinkedIn and elsewhere recently about the strength of TV. After several years of taking a battering in the hearts and minds of clients and agencies, TV has been fighting back, pointing to large numbers of viewers and some dodgy data from some of the leading online publishers.

The latest round of data from Edentify’s IPTV in Australia study, however, shows that this argument is missing the key point. There’s not really any doubt about whether people are still watching TV: they definitely are. It’s just that the way they are watching it is dramatically different to the way they have watched it in the past.

Watching TV online has become a staple for many, with 36% of the population saying they watch TV content online “all the time” – up from 17% in January 2014. This is even more common among younger people, with 63% of 18-29 year olds watching TV online “all the time”.

But it’s not just younger people: 20% of people 50+ are watching TV content online all the time (up from 11% in January 2014). This is clearly something that is now routine for many.

A similar story plays out when we look at the mix of traditional TV viewing versus online TV viewing. Those who only or mainly watch TV on TV has decreased to 60% in January 2017, down from 78% in January 2014. Again, the decline is more dramatic among younger people, where only 23% only or mainly watch TV content on TV (from 57% in January 2014).

So where are the viewers going?

Netflix is clearly taking a lot of eyeballs. 31% of respondents have watched Netflix in the past month, up from 19% 12 months ago. Once again this is being driven largely by younger people, with 65% or 18-29 year olds watching Netflix in the past month.

Perhaps the most worrying thing for TV networks is that when people sign up to Netflix, their viewing of traditional TV declines significantly. As of January 2017 only 25% of Netflix subscribers only or mainly watch TV/video content on TV (down from 33% in January 2016).

Meanwhile the free to air catch up services are struggling to gain a foothold with ABC iview (13% watched in last month), Plus7 (8% watched in last month), 9Now (6% watched in last month), and Tenplay (8% watched in last month) all failing to grow significantly over the past year. Only SBS On Demand (12% watched in last month, up from 8% in January 2016) has increased its viewers over the past 12 months. Clearly the FTA networks have not yet cracked this market.

Given the ongoing NBN rollout and the emergence of 5G mobile, these trends are likely to continue as we approach a tipping point for online TV viewing that will shake up the business models of the free to air networks.

The ultimate implication of these trends is that it is becoming more difficult to achieve reach through TV. Reaching younger audiences in particular is becoming harder and is more likely to require looking beyond traditional TV plans. If more and more people are watching Netflix more often, how else can advertisers reach them? Marketers and media agencies will need to work harder to find their audiences, and will need to be prepared to spread their TV dollars more widely to ensure they get the reach they want.


The IPTV in Australia tracking study is conducted exclusively by Edentify and interviews 600 people Australia-wide every 6 months via an online survey and measures usage and attitudes towards Internet TV. Contact us to find out more about this study.


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