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Australians changing television viewership

When it comes to media, Australians are spoiled for choice in the modern world.

Australian television viewership

And advertisers are reaping the rewards, with Roy Morgan's latest State of the Nation: Media Report showing that the industry has grown by 17.9 per cent over the last two years—a whopping $15.25 billion spent across all platforms.

But with increased options for consumers, that spend is now extending across more devices and platforms than ever before. So how is commercial television faring with so many online streaming competitors and mobile platforms entering the market?

How Australians are viewing free to air television today

Roy Morgan data shows a decline in FTA viewing, from 96 per cent in 1998, down to 95.6 per cent in 2002. It now sits and just over 88 per cent in 2017. But this figure doesn't factor in the new methods for watching TV overall.

The advent of ‘Streaming or Subscription Video on Demand’ (SSVOD) services, pay television options, and catch up television options mean that 94.1 per cent of Australians are watching some form of’s just no longer straightforward.

That means the number of people consuming television hasn't lowered dramatically in 15 years, it’s just that viewing methods are shifting.

How younger generations are consuming television

Recently, the Media Precinct took to the streets of Sydney to talk to people from all demographics about their television viewing habits. The view from younger generations was that traditional free to air delivery is not of mass appeal anymore.

"I only watch Netflix,” said one young man. “I don't watch (traditional) TV anymore. There are too many ads, the shows are terrible and reality TV just sucks.”

In another instance, a young woman said free to air no longer even serves as a source of information: "I feel like I get enough information online that I don't really need to watch the news anymore. Plus I am just not home at that time, or other people are watching the TV, so it's not really priority for me.”

Streaming services like Netflix and Stan are giving younger generations a better offer, while social media channels are playing the role of the newsroom. In fact, 27.1 per cent of Australians now utilise pay TV or streaming services to get their viewing fix.

And to top it all off, some younger interviewees surveyed admitted they no longer even owned a traditional television.

Families still like to come together around the TV

Traditional TV Viewership

Parents surveyed were on the fence, more so than others. While they appear to enjoy streaming services, traditional television (especially ABC Kids) presented them an opportunity to have quality family time together.

"I have two little kids and we like to sit together and watch programs," one father said. "We try to avoid the devices and try to keep them off it, if we can, but it's a bit hard.”

Another father said his family also enjoyed watching traditional television together, but they turned to digital content for the rest of their media needs.

"We watch [traditional] TV with the kids, that's it. Apart from that, we watch stuff that we've purchased on streaming services or Netflix," he said.

Older generations use both traditional and modern methods to access television

Some members of the more senior generation prefer traditional television for reasons other than routine.

"I do [still watch television],” said one lady. “I'm blind, I'm old and my eyes are bad, so I have to see big things. [I watch] free to air, ABC and SBS — Viceland is really good for great, quirky movies.”

But that doesn't mean they are not picking up digital methods at all. Catch up television and recording devices are proving popular to some, allowing for programs to be recorded when they’re not around the home, or when they would rather watch the program at another time.

"We usually watch the free to air stuff when we've recorded it, and we don't watch very much of it live,” said another lady. “It’s just easier to watch it when you want—[you can] fast forward through the adverts.”

Traditional methods of watching television may be on the decline, but that doesn’t mean people are tuning out completely. With so many new platforms and challengers launching different ways to watch TV, consumers have more options than ever before. Which means more advertising spend in the long run.

About the Media Precinct

The Media Precinct is a leading Australian owned media agency known for our research and insights led by Glenda Wynyard. If you are looking for a media agency that understands how people connect with media then email today.

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