Home World Business Australians trust traditional news, but still won’t pay for it online: Deloitte

Australians trust traditional news, but still won’t pay for it online: Deloitte

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Australians are overwhelmingly unwilling to pay for online news, yet are getting more concerned about the quality of what they read online, according to the latest media habits report by Deloitte. 

Free-to-air and subscription television remain the main source of entertainment in the home, but each face unique challenges as more content shifts to online streaming or live-sporting apps. 

About 36 per cent of Australians aged over 70 are binge-watching television shows, defined as three or more episodes in ... About 36 per cent of Australians aged over 70 are binge-watching television shows, defined as three or more episodes in a row.  Photo: Rob Homer

The online media habits survey of more than 2000 people found broadcast television is still dominant despite the rise of online streaming and that Australians were falling out of love with social media with daily usage dropping from 61 per cent to 59 per cent. 

About one third of people have suspended social media accounts, and nearly half say they wish they spent less time on it. 

Facebook and 'like' symbol. Facebook and ‘like’ symbol. Photo: Duncan Chard

Meanwhile, use of traditional news sources, such as television, newspapers, radio and magazines, remains stable while finding news through social media has declined slightly. 

“Some of the change might be attributed to the growing awareness of so-called ‘fake news’,” Deloitte’s media leader, Niki Alcorn, said. 

“Fifty eight per cent of respondents agree that they have changed the way they access news material online given the prevalence of ‘fake news’.” 

However, Deloitte also found 90 per cent of Australians are not willing to pay for online news “because there is so much information available for free”, a statistic that has not changed over the last four years. 

Foxtel's Mark Buckman, Deanne Weir and Peter Tonagh. Foxtel’s Mark Buckman, Deanne Weir and Peter Tonagh. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Meanwhile, when it comes to television and video, the number of people with a video streaming service reached 32 per cent and surpassed those with a Foxtel subscription (31 per cent) for the first time.  Netflix has the lions’ share of subscribers, about 28 per cent, while Foxtel Play has about 9 per cent, Stan 7 per cent and the recently arrived Amazon Prime, 2 per cent. 

Having back-catalogues of television series available through streaming services means all age groups are returning  to old favourites. 

Netflix still has the biggest market share of subscription video on demand (SVOD) services. Netflix still has the biggest market share of subscription video on demand (SVOD) services.  Photo: Bloomberg

Sixty per cent of respondents will “binge” on a show (watching three or more episodes in a row), and are now watching an average of six episodes during a binge, up from a reported five episodes in last year’s survey. Even 36 per cent of people aged over 70  are bingeing on television. 

“Bingers spend nearly the same amount of time watching previous seasons of current shows, as they do watching new seasons of current shows,” Deloitte found. 

Viewers saw this message instead of advertising when watching Ten's live stream recently. Viewers saw this message instead of advertising when watching Ten’s live stream recently.  

All age groups still watch free-to-air live television except older Australians mostly watch as it goes to air while people aged under 33 tend to time-shift using recording or catch-up technology. 

Overall, 47 per cent of television viewers now watch their favourite shows through catch up services or streaming. This is problematic because it is technically more complicated to integrate normal advertising into streaming than into broadcasting, according to video streaming specialists. 

For example, SBS’s On Demand services has been criticised for disruptive and random ad placement during dramatic shows, while Network Ten’s live stream has recently shown a screen saying “Your live stream will be back after the ad break” rather than actual advertising.  

“Integrating advertising in streaming content is not a simple task, and it is just one part of a multitude of processes or workflows needed to deliver video content over internet,” video specialist Akamai’s regional sales director, Adam Riley, told Fairfax Media. 

“Streaming video has very different complexities and undertakings compared to traditional broadcasting, as you need to deliver the content to users all around the world, enjoying different internet speeds, and using many different devices.”

The number of people watching the nightly news as it goes to air has dropped from 63 per cent to 45 per cent, and the percentage watching sports live on television has dropped from 38 per cent to 29 per cent as more fans find their favourite sports through smartphones or tablets. 

“The only genre that has seen growth in the proportion of respondents most likely to watch it live at the time of broadcast, is Reality TV with 21 per cent of respondents doing so, up from 17 per cent in 2015,” Deloitte’s team found. 

The rise of live sport streaming is potentially bad news for Foxtel because 62 per cent of subscribers cite live sport as the top reason for maintaining their service. The number of Foxtel subscribers may decline as live sport becomes available through telcos and apps – such as Optus’ Premier League rights or CrownBet’s free AFL stream. 

Indeed, last week Foxtel’s part-owner, News Corp, revealed a 9 per cent decline in Foxtel’s earnings due to fewer subscribers and increasing sports costs. Foxtel had 2.8 million subscribers at June 30, down 2 per cent from the previous year. 

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