There has been much talk in the media of late of declining TV audiences and the increased popularity of streaming services. TV networks would be watching this trend closely and they’re obviously feeling it. With Nine Entertainment’s shock profit downgrade due to soft market conditions in May & June and leading into a softer than expected second half, they’re obviously starting to feel the pain.
Viewers are turning away. Looking at the year on year figures of the under 40’s demographic across the 5 capital cities, the decline in peak viewership is down 23% over the last 5 years. The over 40’s set are in decline as well, down 10% and the majority of this loss has been in the last 6 months.
It’s no coincidence that over this time we’ve seen new TV streaming services enter the market. Their content offering has been strong and by providing a month’s free trial, it’s easy to convert those who want to consume their content in their own time, at their own pace.
Until Netflix release their subscriber numbers, we can only speculate at how fast we’ve been to jump on board. One indicator is the fact that ISPs have reported an increase in downloads during peak times. I think it can be attributed to the number of different avenues available to viewers. We are turning to Netflix, catch up TV through apps and streaming content through YouTube due to the fact that the content being served up on TV is not drawing in the under 40s.
Today, OzTam have released their Australian Multi-Screen Report for Q1, 2015. It states that all age groups are still watching the majority of their TV on in-home TV sets. I don’t think that’s in dispute. Looking at the 18-24s, their time spent watching live TV has dropped from 40 hrs 21 mins per month to 35 hrs 25 mins per month.
So what else are they doing? Combined, they’re now spending 22 hrs 54 mins watching video either on a PC, tablet or smartphone, up from 16 hrs 25 mins in 2013.
Interestingly, internet-capable TVs (Smart or Hybrid TVs) are now in 30% of homes, up 27% from 12 months ago, so that uptake is slowly growing. We’re also becoming more comfortable with multi-screening, with 75% of people 16+ using another device while watching TV and that device is more often a laptop or smartphone. We’re now getting really good at multi-screening with 31% actually triple-screening – watching TV and using two other devices at the same time!
So considering the biggest decline in free TV audiences has occurred over the last 6 months and we’re not only multi-screening but triple-screening, the battle for our attention is at its greatest. So if the content being served up isn’t engaging, then natural behaviour is to seek out content to consume at our own pace. I think that this trend will continue to grow over the next 6 months.
How have your TV habits changed over the past 6 months? Are you a Netflix subscriber or a triple screener? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Giulianna Stead is a Channel Planner at BCM.