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The way we now watch free to air television

When the Media Precinct hit the streets of Sydney last time to determine television viewing habits, we found some surprising results. Residents in Newtown were divided over their viewing habits, with younger people preferring to stream content digitally while families still liked to congregate around the traditional television set each evening.

This time we travel across to Leichhardt to see if these behaviours were the same, or whether people are watching more traditional television within different Sydney locations.

Television viewing - a recap

Roy Morgan's ‘State of the Nation: Media Report’ showed that advertising has risen 17.9 per cent over the last two years to $15.25 billion across all platforms. That includes new mediums like digital streaming and viewing on mobile devices.

The Roy Morgan data showed that free-to-air viewing has declined from from 96% in 1998, down to 95.6% in 2002, to 88% today. This is largely because more and more people are adopting digital methods to consume their television.

How the younger generation is consuming television in Leichhardt

Streaming services hold great appeal to the younger crowd that feature in our latest video, especially for a young mother who stays at home to care for her child.

"I'm a stay at home mum so I need to pass my days," she said, citing Orange is the New Black and Narcos as shows she likes to 'binge watch'.


But younger people in Leichhardt haven't turned off free-to-air completely, with another young woman saying the family tradition of watching TV together was stronger than ever.

"I like the positioning in the living area and, how in modern homes, the kitchen and the living area become one and everybody can watch the TV together," she said. "It's more of a social thing rather than an isolated experience."

Free-to-air news holds greater integrity to the older generation

Like Newtown, older people in Leichhardt are picking up digital platforms while also consuming television through traditional methods.

For one older gentleman, television was exclusively for news. "I watch my news shows, I watch some films sometimes, that's all," he said. "I watch Channel 7 and Channel 9 sometimes, that's all. Not much TV."

An older woman expanded on this, saying that digital platforms like social media are great for instant news, but that the major free-to-air networks offered superior integrity in their broadcasts. "I usually watch the news on Channel 9. I think it is well reported, I like the men and women that do the reporting and it seems to be very honest and upfront. That's all we can ask for, isn't it?," she said.

Those in the middle remain on the fence

When it comes to middle-aged demographics, residents in Leichhardt are in the same boat as those in Newtown—divided.

One middle-aged woman said her younger siblings embrace digital platforms, but it held little appeal to her.

"I am probably in that older generation that is not on their laptop all the time," she said. "My little sisters are always on their downloading things and watching things. I do sometimes, but I prefer to look at the big screen.”

But a middle-aged man had stronger things to say about free-to-air. "I am English ... [the days where we] sat in front of the television to watch Coronation Street at 7.30pm—that is finished," he said.

While free-to-air television’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated, there is more choice on the market than ever before through digital platforms. That is equating to increased 'television' consumption convenience for consumers.

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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