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australian telvision fragmenting

Australian television: Why fragmentation is the future

Australian television is fragmenting. Here’s why this might be the best thing to happen to TV.

In the past three months, three of the four Australian television commercial TV networks have launched their fourth TV channel offering. SBS Food Network and 9Life joined the ranks in November 2015 whilst 7Flix launched Sunday, 28 February 2016, furthering the demographic segmentation of their audiences and increasing available advertising inventory.

Nineteen different free-to-air channels are currently available in the average Australian home. This highlights a massive increase from nine years ago, when only 5 free-to-air channels and one subscription service (Foxtel or Austar) were available.

As technology and screen devices have improved and become more accessible, Australians have fragmented their viewing habits across more screens. Australians are adapting to and even favour alternate screens more than ever before. Now choosing when, where and how to watch content. According to the latest OzTAM Multiscreen Report, 12% of total video viewing now comes from a mobile or desktop device. Thus adding additional challenges to measuring and delivering impactful results for clients.

Despite this, TV is still the dominate choice for Australians. Fairly consistent viewing patterns remain on average across all channels but it is the top-tier programs that have seen the biggest impact and the largest fragmentation across various consumer devices, as audiences capitalise on the ability to record, re-watch and catch up on their favourite shows when it best suits them. Reflective of this change; the past 10 years have highlighted a loss of audience for the top 25 rating TV programs. With TV audiences consistently down 13% from 2005 to 2015 (OzTAM).

australian television channel share

Table 1 – Changes in Channel Share. Late 2013-2014 vs. Late 2015-16. (eTAM 21/11/15-13/02/16)

In response to audience and screen fragmentation, the strategy to launch genre based channels seems to be performing for all networks.

SBS Food Network, the only 24/7 dedicated free food channel on Australian television is now the highest rating multi-channel among the SBS network, with close to 50% more audience than SBS2 (see below).

9Life, as a dedicated lifestyle and reality channel, is also strongly performing against Women 25-54. It is now the second highest performing multichannel across the Nine Network, in front of GEM.

australian television channel profile index

Table 2 – Channel Profile Index (eTAM 22/11/2015 – 13/02/2016)

7Flix has just launched; targeting women 25-54 and described as the female version of 7Mate. The line-up includes a regular kids programming schedule until midday, nightly movies from 8:30pm and popular US drama and reality. We anticipate the average daily viewership to be 40,000- 50,000 people tuning in between 6am-midnight.

The remote now offers Australian television viewers more free content live through their TV set live than ever before. This will further fragment audience viewing patterns; pulling away from the primary channel and top-tier (more broadly appealing programming) to a more niche and tailored environment available across the multi-channels. In the imminent future this will challenge clients and advertisers to leverage insights about particular audiences and their screen viewing patterns. They must develop and communicate product offerings that resonate with these audiences at times, on channels and through particular screens where they are most receptive to brand and product messages, which could very well be one of the new fourth channels.

So, go FOURTH and fragment, Australian television networks everywhere!

This post was brought to you by Laura Sanford and Team Trading at Match Media.