Research: Lockdown drives Oz TV subs

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New data from research firm Roy Morgan shows Australians consumed subscription TV services at an astonishing rate during 2020 as the country endured a nationwide lockdown from late March until late May and Victorians experienced a second, and longer, lockdown soon after.

Some 17.3 million Australians (82.1 per cent) watched a subscription TV service in an average four weeks, up 2.4 million (+16.2 per cent) from a year ago. During the last 12 months, Australians have spent a lot of time indoors as smoke from summer bushfires a year ago soon gave way to Covid-19 restrictions that kept people largely at home for weeks and months on end.

All the major subscription TV services have been big winners during 2020 with large increases in viewers for Netflix, Foxtel, Stan, Disney+ and Amazon Prime in the three months to September 2020 compared to the same three month period a year ago.

Netflix is by far Australia’s most watched subscription television service, with 14,168,000 viewers in an average four weeks, an increase of 2,265,000 viewers from a year ago (+19.0 per cent). Over two-thirds of all Australians aged 14+ (67.2 per cent) now watch Netflix in an average four weeks.

Foxtel experienced even faster growth across its services this year and now has a total of 7,748,000 viewers of either Foxtel, Foxtel Now, Kayo Sports or Binge in an average four weeks, up 2,363,000 viewers from a year ago (+43.9 per cent).

Also growing viewership strongly during 2020 have been third-placed Stan, which grew 1,562,000 (+46.4 per cent) to 4,928,000 viewers, Amazon Prime, which was up 2.158,000 (+190.2 per cent) to 3,293,000 viewers and newcomer Disney+, which now has 2,870,000 viewers after being launched in late 2019.

According to Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine, the hundreds of billions of dollars of Government stimulus and enforced lock-down measures that have kept millions of Australians at home during 2020 have delivered an unprecedented boom to Australia’s subscription TV services. “Subscription TV services have made large gains during 2020 with viewership soaring for the top five services compared to a year ago. The strong increases across the board mean more than 80 per cent of Australians, 17.3 million, now watch Subscription TV in an average four weeks – up by more than 2.4 million viewers on a year ago.”

“Netflix remains the clear market leader in Australia and grew its viewership by 2.26 million (+19.0 per cent) from a year ago to 14.17 million viewers. Over two-thirds of all Australians aged 14+ (67.2 per cent) now watch Netflix in an average four weeks.”

“Foxtel’s growth in viewers has been even more impressive, up by 2.36 million to a viewership of 7.75 million across its four services of Foxtel, Foxtel Now, Kayo Sports and new streaming service Binge. All four have increased their viewership strongly during 2020 as locked down Australians sought out new content to pass the time.”

“There are other clear winners as well including Stan which is now closing in quickly on 5 million viewers and has increased its viewership by 1.56 million (+46.4 per cent) from a year ago to 4.93 million.”

“Stan, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Nine Entertainment Company, has recently expanded its content offering with the launch of ‘Stan Sport’ and has already signed the rights to live broadcast Australia’s Rugby Union matches as well as the Grand Slam tennis tournaments at Wimbledon and Roland Garros.”

“Amazon Prime Video experienced a significant boost to growth in 2020 and nearly tripled its viewership from a year ago to 3.29 million (up 2.16 million, +190.3 per cent) while Disney+ has attracted nearly as many viewers less than a year after launching with a viewership of 2.87 million.”

“The strong growth for the leading services in the market shows Australians are increasingly viewing multiple services to find new and interesting content. For example over 5.6 million Australians watch both Netflix and Foxtel services in an average four weeks and nearly 4.7 million watch both Netflix and Stan.”

“After a bumper year in 2020, the outlook for 2021 presents a new challenge as Government stimulus programmes are progressively reduced and the ability to travel domestically (and in time internationally) without restriction is regained as border barriers come down and Covid-19 vaccines are rolled out,” she concluded.


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