Australia’s Media Future: Why We’re Going ‘Off’ TV & Have Lost Trust In The ‘Old School’ Media Players

Australia’s Media Future: Why We’re Going ‘Off’ TV & Have Lost Trust In The ‘Old School’ Media Players

Aussies increasingly want to get their news from niche sources (think podcasts and docos), 20 per cent of us no longer watch any TV whatsoever, and we’re increasingly distrusting of the ‘old school’ media players.

John Bastick
Posted by John Bastick

That’s just a few of the challenging findings of the bi-annual Mind And Mood Report by Sydney-based research firm Ipsos.

Admittedly, the Report attempts to represent a snapshot of the nation rather than a bespoke, indepth look at our media consumption; although it does include a strong focus on what ‘middle Australia’ thinks of the media they’re presently being served.

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Ipsos’ Laura Demasi (pictured above) is the research director of the Report and calls it “Australia’s longest running social trends study” with the end results digested by a number of corporations and government departments.

“It’s the reality of people’s lives,” Demasi said of the study and those who participate in it. “Marketers can be a little detached from reality. They need to be reminded that their experiences in life don’t necessary align with middle Australia’s. I think it (the Report) is a way for them to reconnect because it’s about a person not just a consumer. Consumers are people first.”

Demasi said the biggest surprise from this year’s Report were the expectations of different generations; be they the Ys, Xs or the Boomers. “This whole idea of ‘life stage’, the traditional idea of what’s expected of you at a certain stage of life, that’s gone out the window,” she argued of the study’s findings.

“The expectations of how we live; each generation is redrawing those and resetting those. What past generations thought was a successful life – a steady job, a mortgage, a house, kids… but you talk to people in their mid-20s and there’s a lot of indifference towards things like home ownership; there’s this idea that they just don’t care.

“You only need look at the (low) rate of car ownership (among the Ys) to know it’s not about ‘stuff’ for them. Their drivers in life are personal fulfillment, happiness and experience. And that’s it!”

Demasi said the Report showed we’re seeing a transfer of power from ‘them’ to ‘we’ and ‘me’; and that, she believed, was bad news for traditional institutions such as mainstream media, corporations and government. “We’re seeing this seismic shift in where power resides. The days of those old pillars guiding you in life are over. And that’s led by the digital revolution which has empowered the indvidual like we’ve never seen in history. Those old institutions are going to have to fight hard to remain relevant in peoples’ lives,” Demasi said.

And, ultimately, that idea will carry over to how we watch and consume our media. These were the Report’s main take-out points relating to media, according to Demasi.

  • We’re witnessing the rise of niche media. “It’s now quite possible to go through life in your own reality constructed only by social media,” Demasi said.
  • Millennials don’t even know the name of the Prime Minister! “That actually happened with a group of younger people we met. It’s not that they’re stupid; it’s just that their ‘new’ media doesn’t cover that.”
  • Mainstream media dumbs everything down. “That was a perception of what people felt about mainstream media, whether it’s actually true or not. People constantly talk about how it’s all full of crap celebrities and reality TV; news is overly-produced stuff, and all (the networks) really care about is ratings.”
  • Immense suspicion of ‘old school media’. “It’s a lack of trust, it’s this suspicion… they’re not held in the same sort of esteem they once were.”
  • A big ‘tick’ for the public broadcaster. “The ABC and SBS frequently come up as the only television worth watching. I think these comments (about dumbing down) are in relation to the commercial stations. Are people really engaged in these shows (such as MasterChefor is it just ambient stuff on in the background?”
  • We’re turning the TV off. “Our research has found that on any given day one in five Australians aren’t watching TV. Streaming, there’s lots and lots of streaming. And we’re getting our news from increasingly niche sources – podcasts, documentaries; these are discussed as the ‘new source of truth’.
  • Watch the Ys for your future. “Traditional TV won’t be wiped away but it will decrease as there’ll be other options. But Seven, Nine and Ten have a lot of challenges, for sure. If I had any advice for them (TV bosses) it would be come in and sit in on groups – particularly with young people – and it might be a good reality check. I think they (the networks) might be surprised how (badly) they’re perceived.”
  • Pay TV’s future looks bleak. “They’re the ones in most danger. There’ll always be a place for free-to-air, but I think Pay TV… I don’t know what will happen with them down the track. With streaming, I just don’t know how they’ll be able to compete.”

Demasi concluded: “I’m not saying any specific media will be wiped out, it’s just a reconfiguration of the landscape. It’s like any sort of disruption, any new technology, it doesn’t always wipe the incumbent out; it usually readjusts the power balance and makes the landscape much more complex. Take Uber, it won’t ever kill off our need to catch a cab, there’ll just be less of them and they’ll just have to be happy with that ‘X-per cent’ of the market when they used to have 100 per cent.”