Many Australians have had to spend more time at home over the past year, and streaming services have become a welcome distraction from the mundanity of life stuck at home. In a recent poll, Select Opinion Leaders asked Aussies about the content they most enjoy watching, and look at how streaming providers have become a significant part of our entertainment and daily lives.

Streaming more than ever…

The list of available streaming services is growing, and with more Aussies than ever using this as a main part of their entertainment, the options will most likely continue to expand. Currently, around 8 in 10 Aussies are using some type of streaming service (82%), and it is not uncommon for many to have access to multiple platforms (78% of users have access to more than one).

This year, as a result of Covid-19, a quarter of Aussies polled either signed up or started using an additional streaming service. Of those that use this type of entertainment, 62% stated that they are now streaming more content than before Covid-19. The impact of spending more time at home is also affecting what content we are looking for, with 47% stating they are branching out and watching genres they had not thought to try before!

Coming soon, to a TV near you!

Netflix has ingrained itself into our culture, being the first major disruptor to the long-running co-habitation of free-to-air and cable tv. It is not only the most-used platform (83% of Australians surveyed who have access to paid streaming use Netflix), but it has also achieved the greatest brand awareness (92% of Aussies polled). This is likely due in part to the brand being one of the first major streaming providers launched in Australia; Presto was Foxtel’s first attempt in streaming, launching nearly a year before Netflix, but ceased to operate in 2017.

Trailing well behind Netflix is Australian platform Stan (31% usage), followed by Amazon Prime (25% usage). Of course, some Aussies are streaming through more than one provider, but 62% of those that are rated Netflix as the best value-for-money in comparison.

To download or freeload?

It’s stated in the terms of service that we’re supposed to keep the use of Netflix and other subscriptions within our household. However, about half of all the Aussie users polled are sharing their account with another household. Of these, 39% are sharing with their immediate family members that they don’t live with; either their parents, their siblings, or their adult children. An additional 17% are sharing with their partner who lives in another household. But it does seem that the majority of respondents who are sharing their account are also sharing the costs, with only 13% stating that while they use a service, no one in their household is paying for it.

The amount of time we dedicate to watching content in a week is not solely reserved for paid streaming; there is free content available too, such as YouTube, social media, and the good old-fashioned tv channels. However, with all that’s on offer to us, we do spend much of our content time on paid streaming platforms (39%, of the total time we spend watching content). In comparison, about 29% of the time is spent watching free-to-air television, 12% on free streaming services and 11% was spent on YouTube.

If only we can decide what to watch!

We all know the frustration of having too much choice and being unable to make an easy decision; like when you’re at a café and there’s so many great menu options, but you choose the same thing you always get! Or when you stand in front of fully stocked fridge but struggle to find a snack! Many of us have also felt this phenomenon when trying to find the next binge-worthy tv show, or a film that everyone will agree to watch. Most of the paid platforms have great features (such as ‘My List’), and algorithms to make suggestions. Netflix has taken content categorisation and searching to the next level with the invention of their ‘genre codes’; a hack that allows users to search for niche sub-genres – a great feature to use next time you get stuck in a choice paralysis!

But what else is Netflix doing to have such a hold over the market? Looking at the most important factors that Aussies take into account when choosing a streaming service, price seems to be of greatest concern, an important consideration for 81% of Aussie users. Following this are the variety of content (72%), as well as new content being added regularly (67%). Netflix is in fact the same price or more expensive than other providers, so they seem to be winning by having the superior content and features.

What is on our ‘watch lists’?

All the features may make the user experience more efficient, but at the end of the day Aussies are here to watch. So, what do we want to watch? The favourite genre reported by respondents for tv shows was Drama (18%), followed by Comedies (16%) and then Crime (14%). But if we feel like watching a film, turns out our favourites differ slightly; the top genre for movies was Action & Adventure (20%), followed by Drama (19%) and then Comedies (15%). From those using more than one platform, Netflix was rated highest as the provider for tv, film, and documentary content, as well as for their top genres, proving once again it is the clear favourite.

In most parts of Australia, kids activities are still under some form of restriction, and in Victoria children are not physically attending school, therefore the use of video content to entertain the kids is no doubt an essential tool for some parents. Once again, Netflix ranked highest in terms of being the most engaging for children (43%), followed by Disney+ (26%).

Foxtel, my old friend! Do you have something I can binge?

Once the leader of paid content in Australia, Foxtel has been forced to adapt to compete with the influx of content providers. Of those polled, 40% stated that they have previously used or paid for Foxtel, however only 25% are currently using the service. Of those that don’t currently have Foxtel, 11% said they would consider it, however the overwhelming majority would not, most likely for the reason that it is deemed too expensive (87%), or it is outdated compared with newer services (34%).

But Foxtel has expanded into the streaming market as well as maintaining their cable packages; first creating Foxtel Now (used by 17% of respondents) and the recently launched Binge (used by 6% of respondents). Launched in July this year, Binge offers some great content that is not available from competing providers, namely the popular HBO shows that in the past have been the lure for some to become Foxtel users. At a competitive price point, Binge may become the streaming platform that more and more Aussies add to their growing collections of subscriptions, and may also sway some Foxtel and Foxtel Now users to switch to this cheaper option.

The future of streaming

With so much content to choose from, and the list of providers constantly growing, it may not be long before Aussies decide to branch out from not only what they’re watching, but what platforms they access the content through. Free-to-air networks are working hard to compete within the streaming market, improving usability and range of content in their own streaming apps. With unique and often-local content that is free to access and contains less ads that traditional tv programming, these streaming services, such as iView and SBS demand, may become an increasingly popular option. Netflix may be king, but with most of the other providers offering a free trial or bundle with other services, such and home and phone internet, maybe it’s time to say hi to Stan, get yourself some snacks and sit down to Fetch, or indulge with a session of Binge.

Ekas Research
Ekas Research