There’s no denying the popularity of Netflix since it launched in Australia this time last year. One in four Aussie households are now subscribers, an estimated 5.8 million Australians aged 14-plus now have access to the SVOD service via 2,268,000 household subscriptions.
However, a new study by research group Roy Morgan into the free-to-air (FTA) viewing habits of Australian Netflix users has found that, typically, subscribers were never big watchers of commercial TV even before the arrival of Netflix.
The study found 18 per cent of Netflix subscribers are “heavy” watchers of FTA (classified as more than three hours on a normal weekday), and another 20 per cent watch a “medium” amount of two to three hours. Forty two per cent watch less than two hours’ worth, and the remaining 20 per cent say they don’t watch any at all on a regular Monday to Friday.
But in better news for Seven, Nine and Ten, 70 per cent of Australian households don’t have Netflix. Among them, 27 per cent are “heavy” FTA viewers, 21 per cent are “medium”, 37 per cent are “light” and only 16 per cent watch none on a typical weekday.
Per cent of Australians spending time watching free-to-air TV
Commenting on the study, Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said: “Netflix finished 2016 in almost 2.3 million Australian homes. Commercial TV networks (and their advertisers) are right to be concerned about the popularity of SVOD, and how much attention it will ‘steal’ from free-to-air television.
“Many Netflix subscribers, especially in the early days, weren’t big viewers of commercial TV – so the industry wasn’t necessarily losing audiences it had to begin with. Heavy commercial TV viewers remain the least likely to have Netflix – however subscriptions among this group have grown over 50 percent in 2016, faster than any other viewing segment.
“Free-to-air networks, industry bodies and advertisers must now pay closer attention to SVOD subscription rates and usage habits among their heaviest viewers.
“One core issue will be how heavy commercial TV viewers use Netflix, and other SVOD services such as Stan, if and when they do subscribe. Will it be only for a weekly movie, a series binge-viewed over a weekend, or become the first port of call every time the TV is turned on?
“In large part, this will all come down to viewers’ engagement with particular TV shows. As SVOD grows (and offers award-winning ‘must-see’ new shows such as The Crown), networks and advertisers won’t be able to rely on reaching unengaged viewers.
”The time is now to start focusing on audience engagement. Multiple broadcast channels, live streaming and catch-up platforms should give the commercial TV networks the ability to offer highly engaging programming to all different segments, keeping them tuned in and upholding free-to-air as the go-to at-home entertainment option,” Levine said.