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Survey: Australian audiences nearing subscription fatigue?

September 22, 2021

As demand for subscription entertainment shows no sign of slowing, and content continues to fragment across new and existing services, audiences are fast approaching a tipping point, Deloitte Australia’s latest Media Consumer Survey reveals.

Deloitte’s tenth edition of the Media Consumer Survey drills down into Australian digital entertainment audience preferences. The survey focuses on five generations with a sample of more than 2,000 consumers in Australia.

National Media Sector Leader and Partner Leora Nevezie said digital entertainment subscriptions are no longer a nice-to-have, they are almost a household utility now, with 80 per cent of Media Consumer Survey respondents paying for at least one digital entertainment subscription of one sort, and an average monthly household spend of A$55 (€34).

“Younger generations lead the way – 95 per cent of all Gen Z have at least one paid digital entertainment subscription service, closely followed by 93 per cent of Millennials, and 60 per cent of both Gen Z and Millennials having more subscriptions now than a year ago,” she advised. “We are well and truly in the age of the entertainment subscription – but how many can we have before both the experience and our budget break,” she queried.

The media and entertainment industry has seen huge digital acceleration in the past 18 months amongst rolling lockdowns and restrictions that had audiences reach for their remote controls, laptops, tablets and phones as a source of critical information and a welcome distraction.  Forty-two per cent have more subscription services than they did a year ago, and 70 per cent have a paid TV/movies service in the household, up from 55 per cent in 2020.

“But managing and consuming multiple services is becoming complex and expensive. The race is on to lead the way on audience experience,” she said.

The average household is spending 10 per cent more on subscriptions than their target budget and 58 per cent said they were concerned about the rising costs of multiple subscriptions.

There is a real desire to make things easier, with two out of three respondents wanting to search and discover all content in one place, and more than half wanting to be able to subscribe to ‘bundles’ of services in the one place.

According to Nevezie, audience experience will be very much the next battleground, with aggregation and entertainment eco-systems taking centre stage and a shift from chasing new subscribers to instead focus on audience value management. Pay-TV providers, telcos and the digital giants all have potential roles in aggregation solutions.

“Alongside this aggregation is a trend of consolidation – entertainment providers consolidating and converging their products and services to create entertainment ecosystems where audiences can move between content and services that are both free and paid, and with multiple revenue models,” she advised.

“This tenth media and entertainment consumer survey focuses on audience behaviours, attitudes and trends and provides a valuable snapshot in this time of huge change which present great opportunities for service providers and media companies,” explained Will Castles, Deloitte Australia Telco, Media & Entertainment sector leader.

The report also revealed the following insights:

There’s a subscription for that. And that. And that: While entertainment subscriptions have been household staples in the last 18 months, we may well see a decline in spending as lockdowns reduce and other entertainment options open again. The easy-come, easy-go nature of subscriptions makes churn a constant challenge with exclusive content hunting and hyper-aware users who understand their binge-worthy moment is just a subscription hop, skip and a jump away. Services will need to look beyond exclusive content, and demonstrate value to audiences through an entertainment ecosystem of multiples services and adjacent offerings.

  • On average, respondents already feel they spend ~10 per cent above their monthly subscription budget.
  • 71 per cent of respondents indicated they have cancelled a service previously.
  • 27 per cent of respondents cancelled an entertainment subscription before joining the same one again, and in younger generations this was almost half of all respondents

News: tapping into digital subscription natives: News content currently holds only a small piece of the subscription pie but there is significant potential for growth, particularly in the younger ‘digital subscription native’ audiences. Key to this will be striking the right balance of content behind and in front of paywalls, leveraging social media and focusing on quality and trusted content.

  • One in five people said they would pay up to $10 a month for news
  • Keeping up to date with news is a primary reason Millennials and Gen Z use social media
  • 64 per cent are concerned about fake news in their social media feed

Sport: shifting the goal posts: Engagement with sport leagues, teams, and events extends far beyond video streaming and digital content, but it appears that Australia is on the cusp of a digital sporting content revolution. The increased distribution of sporting rights and open embrace of feature rich platforms by both providers and consumers over the past year has set the scene for accelerated innovation and audience experience.

  • 18 per cent of respondents have a paid sports subscription service
  • Younger generations are more willing to sacrifice screen size for the flexibility of personal devices.

Free to Air TV – A loungeroom staple: The separation of ‘free’ broadcast viewing from paid viewing is becoming smaller as broadcasters and entertainment services look to move audiences more seamlessly between free and paid content. With FTA TV maintaining its dominance in people’s lives and with its expansion into BVoD, there are plenty of opportunities use this as a driver towards subscription and pay-per-view content to maximise value from audiences.

  • FTA TV remains the overall top home entertainment activity (63 per cent of respondents ranking it in their most frequent home entertainment activities)
  • The way we watch FTA TV is changing – Matures and Boomers almost exclusively watch on a television, at 100 per cent and 95 per cent of respondents respectively. However, Millennials and Gen Z lead the way on laptop and mobile viewing: Millennials at 20 per cent and 16 per cent respectively


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