The amount of Australians watching free-to-air and over-the-top content approaches parity

The gap has shifted from a 66% difference to a 12% one in the span of five years.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor on

Almost the same number of Australians watch content from over-the-top (OTP) streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon Prime, when compared to those who watch free-to-air (FTA) television.

The findings, published by the Australian Bureau of Communications, Arts and Regional Research (BCARR), found that the popularity of OTP services have continued to grow as 70% of Australians watched this type of content as of the end of last year, which is almost triple the amount from 2016.

By comparison, Australians have continued to watch less FTA television. In 2016, 90% of Australians consumed FTA content but this has since dropped to 82.5%.

Of the OTP services that are consumed in Australia, Netflix was the most popular choice, with 13.4 million Australians accessing Netflix as of June 2020. This was followed by Stan, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, which each saw 4.3 million, 2.6 million, and 1.1 million Australians access their content, respectively.

In the data released by the BCARR, Foxtel Now was the least consumed OTP service, with only 968,000 Australians tuning into its services as of June 2020. Earlier this month, Foxtel reported that this figure has since continued to drop as it only had 258,000 paying customers as of the end of 2020.

Although, the company also reported that its newest streaming plays, Kayo and Binge, were headed in the opposite direction, with Kayo growing by 78% to 624,000 paying customers and Binge gaining 431,000 paying customers in its first 7 months.

According to the BCARR, the shift in content consumption preferences was due to Australia having "high internet penetration rates" and OTP services offering more content in recent years.

In November, the BCARR claimed its analysis showed that Australia had the most connections that hit the 25Mbps-capable requirement imposed on NBN in the world.

Once the bar was raised to 100Mbps, however, Australia's ranking dropped to 10th.

This was the first time the BCARR has published this set of data and findings. 

The BCARR will continue to publish these findings focusing on the impact of OTP services on a six-monthly basis for at least another year, the agency said.

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