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Aussie TV faces shake-up

News, 24 April 2015

SYDNEY: The Australian TV landscape is changing rapidly as people shift their viewing to digital devices and as free-to-air (FTA) networks come under increasing pressure from pay TV and streaming networks.

According to Justin Diddams, a media analyst with Citi, the fact that Australia has one of the highest proportions of households viewing FTA commercial networks in the world – more than 70% compared to around 30% in the US – leaves it especially exposed to "new entrants and disruptive technologies".

In a briefing note on the sector, reported by The Australian, he forecast that the leading networks, Seven, Nine and Ten, would see annual audience declines of 2% over the next three years, while the associated advertising market, rather than growing at 2%, would be flat.

His comments echoed those of Danny Bass, chief investment officer at GroupM, who earlier in the week told the Australian Financial Review, "There's a point in time the TV model as we know it breaks and a number of market forces this year tell us that it's this year".

In particular, the cost of content is increasing as advertising yields decline, while audiences are fragmenting as viewers have a greater choice of screens and channels.

A survey by Yahoo7 of 1,000 online Australians revealed that 24% now regularly watch their favourite television shows on devices other than television, including laptops, tablets, mobiles and games consoles. And that figure more than doubles – to 52% – amongst 16-34 year olds.

Yahoo7 product and audience director Caroline Casey also noted that the proportion of TV viewing taking place on gaming consoles had leapt from 3% to 8% in one year.

Another area she highlighted was the growing use of smartphones and tablets to watch TV while commuting – some 53% of respondents said they did this regularly.

"It's a pretty significant number and it's an interesting change in behaviour," said Casey.

Data sourced from The Australian, Australian Financial Review, News.com.au; additional content by Warc staff