Online video audiences are growing. They want to watch content on a range of platforms, as long as it is convenient and affordable. So who’s watching what, on what platform and who will pay for it?
The first major profile of Australia’s audience for video-on-demand—Screen Australia’s Online and On Demand: Trends in Australian online video use—was released today at the Screen Forever conference in Melbourne. The study explores trends in current online video use, including barriers and drivers to using different platforms and the kinds of content viewers are seeking once they get there. The research reveals:
- Online viewing is for everyone: 50 per cent of internet-connected Australians from all walks of life are watching professionally produced film and television video content via the internet.
- Convenience, ‘free content’ and new options excite us: we love the convenience of catch-up, ad-supported services are hugely popular – especially YouTube with younger audiences – and significant buzz around new subscription services suggest these will be game-changers.
- We want it now, want it all and want it cheap or free: ease of access, quality content and affordability are major factors affecting people’s choice of online services.
- Most of us are using legitimate services: and some of us are using both legitimate and illegitimate platforms together, depending on where we find what we want.
- We’re watching more content alone: but we turn to our friends and communities to hear about it, allowing for more niche interests to be pursued than when we share the remote or the popcorn.
- Online viewing is still a small part of our screen diet: online viewers are still spending more time watching on traditional platforms – watching free-to-air television, going to the cinema and hiring DVDs.
- Bandwidth, cost and lack of technical know-how is holding us back: we see slow internet connections and associated costs as a barrier to watching video online, as well as the problem of hooking up our new systems.
VOD viewers have a strong appetite for Australian content, with nearly all watching it across various platforms and just under half watching it online. The report explores potential for Australian content online, with strong trends towards Australian drama and comedy on catch-up services, interest in documentary—especially science and environmental programs—and greater possibilities for niche genres such as horror and sci-fi online than on other platforms. Video-on-demand is providing new audience opportunities for feature films that are being missed by many at the cinema or on traditional forms of home entertainment.
Screen Australia’s CEO Graeme Mason said: “There is much to be excited about in this space and new audience expectations about what services should offer. There are also some major challenges for industry about what it should cost. The shift in audience behaviours has largely already occurred. Online viewing is for everyone – with students to older women, empty nesters to young male urbanites watching video online. We can only expect the number of online viewers to grow with greater awareness, new services and better access developing in response to market demand. The challenge is to find ways to monetise content through these new platforms as they increasingly disrupt traditional business models and teach us to expect to have it all, easily and cheaply, at our fingertips and on any device.”
The full report can be accessed at www.screenaustralia.gov.au/