Advanced Television

Australia: Average 6.4 screens per home

March 29, 2017

The Q4 (October-December) 2016 Australian Multi-Screen Report – from Regional TAM, OzTAM and Nielsen – continues to document how growing content, platform and screen choices have caused a gradual shift in the way consumers apportion their viewing across devices.

Australians are voracious consumers of broadcast TV and other video, and as of Q4 2016 had a dizzying array of options by which to do so. It was early days for many of these alternatives when the report was first published five years ago.

While there is much discussion about television’s place in today’s screen mix, several trends are clear:

  • More screens. Australian homes now have an average of 6.4 screens each, the majority of which are internet capable.
  • People spread their viewing. More devices create more opportunities to view – not least because any connected device can also be used like a PVR to watch catch up TV or live-stream video.
  • A little less TV. Even though people are spreading their viewing across multiple devices, TV remains by far the most-watched screen.Across the population, viewing of broadcast TV (free-to-air and subscription channels) watched live or played back within 28 days on in-home TV sets accounts for 86.6 per cent of video viewing across all devices.

On average Australians watch 2 hours and 39 minutes (2:39) of broadcast TV each day, or 81:18 per month.

  •      The TV set is not just for TV any more. Because television sets can now be used for many purposes in addition to watching TV, ‘other TV screen use’ is rising, particularly in the evenings: in Q4 2016 other TV screen use was just under 31 hours per Australian per monthacross the day, with almost half of that in prime time.

This means 28 per cent of the time people now spend with their TV sets goes to something other than watching live TV or playing back broadcast TV channel content within 28 days – and partially explains why Australians on average now watch 31 fewer minutes of live and playback TV per day than they did in Q4 2010.

Non-broadcast activities comprising ‘other TV screen use’ include gaming; viewing TV network catch up services; watching DVDs; playing back recorded broadcast material beyond 28 days; internet browsing; streaming music; watching video on platforms such as YouTube, Facebook or Vimeo; and watching over-the-top internet-delivered video services.

  • ‘Longer tail’ viewing is rising.Approximately 2.5 to 3 per cent of all broadcast TV viewing is either time-shifted between 8 and 28 days of original broadcast, or takes place on connected devices (OzTAM VPM data). This viewing is on top of OzTAM and Regional TAM Consolidated 7 viewing data.

Australians spend on average 1 hour and 35 minutes (1:35) per month watching time-shifted TV between 8 and 28 days after broadcast; 48 minutes of that is in prime time.

Australians played, on average, 223 million minutes of broadcasters’ online video content each week in the quarter. This comprised:

o   176 million minutes of catch up (or on demand) viewing, which peaked during October with a weekly average total of 205 million minutes.

o   47 million minutes of live-streamed material, which peaked during November with a weekly average total of 58 million minutes.

The graphic, ‘Device penetration and time spent watching video: 2010-2016’ illustrates the collective influence of new digital technologies, channel and platform choices on audience behaviour over the past six years. It shows that while viewing patterns are changing – as Australians embrace connected devices and the whenever-wherever options they create – most viewing still goes to broadcast TV channel content viewed on in-home TV sets.

Taking an in-depth look at how Australians view on various screens:

  • Time spent viewing broadcast TV on in-home sets only:

o   Across the population 89.6 per cent [72 hours and 51 minutes (72:51)] of broadcast TV (free-to-air and subscription channels) is watched live-to-air each month.

o   8.4 per cent (6:51) is played back through the TV set within seven days.

o   1.9 per cent (1:35) is time-shifted between eight and 28 days of the original broadcast.


  • Across all screens, devices and types of video among the population as a whole:

o   86.6 per cent of viewing (81:18) is broadcast TV content watched on in-home sets within 28 days of original transmission.

o   7.8 per cent of viewing is on PC/laptops.

o   2.9 per cent is on smartphones.

o   2.7 per cent is on tablets.

Those figures are an average across the entire population in TV metered markets, and the online universe, and include everyone: heavy, light and non-viewers/users alike.

Please see the left-hand side of the graphic, ‘Video viewing, average time spent per month’ in Q4 2016.


  • Narrowing the focus to only those people who view TV or any kind of video on an in-home television set, PC/ laptop, smartphone or tablet:The right-hand side of the graphic, ‘Video viewing, average time spent per month’ [pls see release or report] looks at the average time spent viewing each month in Q4 2016 by Australians who watch TV or any kind of video, and excludes non-viewers.

    While the number of people who watch any video on a tablet or smartphone is relatively small, among those who do, many are heavy viewers.

    As the universes (population bases) are dramatically different it is not possible to apportion share of time spent viewing across devices using the viewer metric.

As has been apparent for the past few years, the combined impact of more choice and a finite number of available viewing hours in the day is Australians are spending a little less time on a typical day watching broadcast TV on in-home TV sets than they did a year earlier.

The cross-screen ‘spreading’ is most pronounced among younger audiences.

OzTAM CEO Doug Peiffer said: “This fifth anniversary Multi-Screen Report shows the viewing landscape continues to evolve. Many of the content, device and platform options that today allow viewers to access video anytime, anywhere were in their infancy when the report was first published. Amid unprecedented choice, the TV set remains the primary screen for most: Australians still spend a remarkable 2 hours and 39 minutes each on average per day watching live or playing back broadcast TV channel content on in-home sets – just half an hour less than they did six years ago.”

Regional TAM Chairman and General Manager, Prime Television, Tony Hogarth said: “The Multi-Screen Report once again highlights the strength of broadcast television. Regional television continues to consistently deliver time spent viewing results that are higher than the national average. Our regional audiences are spending just over 95 hours on average during a month watching broadcast television.”

Craig Johnson, Managing Director, Media, Nielsen, said: Since the report’s inception five years ago, many things have changed, but overall Australians are consuming more media content that ever. However, digging beneath the bonnet reveals that fragmentation of channels and devices is growing the ‘long tail’, meaning Australian audiences are increasingly taking control of their TV viewing, watching video content wherever and whenever they want, and on the device or screen of their choice.”


o   Penetration levels for various device types are levelling off even as the number of screens in homes continues to grow. This is because people often upgrade a tablet or mobile phone and retain the older one for secondary use:

o   59 per cent of homes have PVRs; 18 per cent have two or more (Q4 2015: 58 per cent; 17 per cent).

o   37 per cent of homes have internet-capable TVs, whether connected or not (Q4 2015: 32 per cent).

o   50 per cent of homes have tablets (49 per cent in Q4 2015).

o   84 per cent of Australians aged 14+ own a smartphone (80 per cent in Q4 2015).

o   100 per cent of Australian television homes can access digital terrestrial television (DTT) channels.

o   97 per cent can do so on every household TV set.

o   96 per cent can receive high definition (HD) DTT broadcasts on all TV sets in the home.

o   Household internet penetration is stable at 80 per cent.

o   Active online Australians spend on average 69:15 per month online.

o 13.742 million Australians watch some video on the internet each month (incl broadcast TV and non-broadcast content): on average 12:07 per viewer per month. Such viewing is highest among 25-34s (19:19 per month).


Categories: Articles, Broadcast, Connected TV, Consumer Behaviour, DTT/DSO, Equipment, Mobile, Mobile TV, OTT, OTT, Pay TV, Portable Media, PVR, Research, STB, VOD