SYDNEY: Half of connected Australians, from all walks of life, are watching professionally produced film and television video content via the internet, a new study has revealed.

A report for government agency Screen Australia – Online and On Demand: Trends in Australian online video use – explored trends in current online video use, including barriers and drivers to using different platforms and the kinds of content viewers are seeking once they get there, based on a series of focus groups and a survey of more than almost 1,600 Australians aged 14 and over.

This found that 50% of Australian internet users were watching movies and televisioncontent online, although this accounted for only a small proportion of overall viewing which remains wedded to broadcast TV and cinema or DVDs.

Online viewing is for everyone, with students to older women, empty nesters to young male urbanites watching video online," declared Graeme Morrison, CEO Screen Australia.

"We can only expect the number of online viewers to grow with greater awareness, new services and better access developing in response to market demand," he added.

People were drawn to the convenience of VOD but didn't expect to pay much for it, the report said. Catch-up TV services and ad-supported services such as YouTube were the most popular and the most used.

The uptake of paid services remains low, with only 13% to 16% of VOD viewers currently subscribing to services or paying to download TV or movie content.

Around 30% had done so in the past or would consider doing to in the future. Almost six in ten respondents indicated they had no internet in paying for content.

That situation may be about to change, however, as Australia's existing cable and streaming services have been revising their pricing packages ahead of the launch of Netflix in the region, which is now planned for March 2015.

Richard Freudenstein, chief executive of cable subscription service Foxtel, told The Age that the market was "going to be very competitive" and "noisy". He did not expect that any company offering subscription VOD would make any money out of the service in the short term.

Monetising content will be the major issue to address, according to Morrison, who noted that "the shift in audience behaviours has largely already occurred".

Data sourced from Screen Australia, The Age; additional content by Warc staff