SYDNEY: The use of subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services in Australia has almost doubled in the past three years, according to a new study, with people now spending an average of 8.75 hours per week viewing content via this channel.

Screen Australia’s 2017 Online & On Demand report, based on an online survey of 1,683 Australians aged 14+ who watch professionally produced screen content online, showed that 68% of 2017 respondents used such services, compared to 37% in 2014 when the study was last carried out.

The intervening period saw the launch of Netflix which in 2015 rapidly established itself as the market-leading streaming service in terms of subscriber numbers, although it appeared that people were spending longer with rival local services such as Foxtel.

Between 2014 and 2017, the use of broadcaster catch-up services rose more gently, from 74% to 87%, while the use of ‘Other AVOD’ services – such as YouTube and video on Facebook – climbed from 70% to 82%.

“Free-to-air television remains king, but AVOD services like YouTube are nearly as widely used and SVOD platforms such as Netflix have seen incredible audience growth,” noted Fiona Cameron, COO of Screen Australia.

The one segment of this market that has suffered is transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) – the proportion of people using services like the iTunes store plummeted from 41% to 14%.

VOD users are still watching content via traditional platforms, with the percentage of people watching broadcast TV each week remaining fairly stable, the study said, at 86% in 2017 (a figure that includes time-shift viewing) against 90% in 2014.

And they’re still spending most of their viewing time with broadcast TV – 14 hours a week compared to 8.75 for SVOD – although that is changing, with 52% saying they watch less free-to-air.

Smart and connected TVs, meanwhile, have overtaken computers as the most popular device to access VOD content; and 25% are now using their smartphones, more than twice as many as in 2014 (10%).

Internet connection speed appeared the main barrier (39%) to viewing more VOD content, although around a third also cited high prices (32%) and limited content (31%).

Sourced from Screen Australia; additional content by WARC staff