More and more people across different generations are turning to subscription-based content and utilising different devices to view it, sometimes simultaneously throughout the house. Here’s a look at the latest data.

Australians have never watched this much TV

The Deloitte Media Consumer Survey 2015 says we are watching more TV and video content than ever before – over 17.5 hours per week. The report goes on to say what while we may be watching more TV, 85% of people are doing other things at the same time. The survey offers a cross-generational snapshot of viewing habits, looking at five main age groups:

  1. Millennials (14-25)
  2. Leading Millennials (26-31)
  3. Xers (32-48)
  4. Boomers (49-67)
  5. Matures (68+)

The Deloitte survey shows that over all age groups ‘using the internet for social and personal interest’ has increased in popularity by around 15% since 2012. Using the internet is now the number 1 source of entertainment for the two youngest age groups, but the TV still holds strong with those aged 32 and above.

  • In most households, 31% of all content watched is streamed while 26% is watched via traditional broadcast.

Most content can be viewed on a regular TV which, according to Deloitte, 84% of Australians own at least two of in their homes.

How we compare to other nations

Roy Morgan Research has indicated that Australians use the internet only slightly less than our New Zealand counterparts, at 12.6% to their 13.1% respectively. Their research also states that 10% of Australians have Netflix, compared with 11% of Kiwis. Americans prefer watching TV to using the internet; overseas figures state there are 33.42 million US subscribers with 1 million in the UK and Ireland. According to The Statistics portal, Netflix broke even in 2003, making a profit of $7 million US dollars. It is expected that Australian viewing figures for online content providers will follow the US, who  and NZ, increasing in the next few years and Netflix will becomes a feature in even more Australian homes.

We’re looking for convenience and breadth of choice

So, what’s driving this change? According to the Deloitte survey and Screen Australia, many are switching to online subscription services due to the availability of content. We are also becoming owners of more internet-enabled devices that can be used all about the home and beyond. For parents, being able to stream content on a smartphone or other device can assist in calming children down – for example, they can be distracted by a live stream of their favourite show or a colouring-in app.

Cost and choice of service is also a factor – most online content platforms offer reasonable monthly rates from about $10, with most free-to-air stations providing on demand content at no cost (other than internet access). Paid providers can be bundled in with your bandwidth allocation, depending on the packages provided by your telco. Families with young children can also access child-friendly channels or lock the kids out of heavier adult programs.

So how is this driving change?

The way in which we interact with devices is changing, with many multi-tasking and using several devices at once. Interestingly, this incidence of multi-tasking will drop when viewers are directly using their laptop or tablet to access programing.

In a recent report from Roy Morgan on media types used at breakfast time, the changes over the last 5 years are significant. Accessing the internet has doubled almost doubled in this time, from 8.5% of people in April 2010, to 16.2% on March 2015, taking over from Newspapers last year.

Radio consumption is dropping slowly, but TV has remained relatively stable over the 5 year period. It seems the losers in the media stakes are Newspapers and Radio, making way for more internet use. Looking at both the Deloitte report and Roy Morgan research, it seems that this trend is set to continue, especially as younger generations bring through new media consumption habits. If we’re looking for more convenience and choice as a nation, it seems likely that internet use and Netflix will play a significant role in the media landscape of Australia’s future.

When you think back to how you consumed media 5 years ago, do you feel your habits are changing? Tell us on Facebook where you think media in Australia could be heading.

Community, not isolation

With more people going online, figures may continue to change – social media is often a great source of information and influence. Many ask like-minded individuals on social media what they might recommend to watch, and there are live forums in which to discuss what’s going on. We may be watching individually, but there is still some sense of community.

Think of how many devices you have in your home, and their value. Insuring these expensive items provides protection from loss.

What will the future look like?

The increase in television watching seems to correlate with the ease in which we can access content. More Australians can access the kind of programming they would prefer without having to wait for a certain time or day. In a time-poor world, that convenience is invaluable. Plus, if you’re playing catch up, binge-watching a whole series can be very satisfying.

At the moment, Deloitte tells us that most Australian households contain two smartphones and two TVs, but only 1.9 laptops and 1.7 tablets. It’s not clear whether these numbers will increase, but they do show how much choice we have in the way we streaming content.

Related: Aussies spent $1.9 billion on clothes in June. How much is your wardrobe worth?

From the data provided, we can deduce that population ageing will inform changes in content delivery – networks will need to become savvier about creating user friendly apps for millennials, who are more likely to use their phone to access online content. With many still using their TV to access content, internet-enabled technology will likely become the norm.

Content providers will need to keep up with the demand for immediacy whilst balancing it with delivering retro programming for older generations and nostalgics. With the cross-generational trend in streaming, they will also have to ensure content is easily accessible so that viewers don’t have to scroll through thousands of titles to find what they want. Deloitte suggests that content curation can be an issue with on-demand sites and this could be a problem for older generations who may be less internet-savvy.

Playing catch-up

Broadcast networks have adjusted somewhat to the availability of content by creating their own streaming services, and will need to continue these in order to stay current. Streaming services allow networks to address the lag between original broadcast times and convenience.

If we are to rely on the internet, our telcos will need to follow through and provide faster, more reliable infrastructure. Having the net drop out during a cliffhanger can be one of the most painful problems viewers face. The NBN rollout may address some of our infrastructure problems, but further advances in technology are both inevitable and essential. Screen Australia’s Online and On Demand report suggests that with our viewing habits, ‘watching becomes less collective and concurrent’, with online platforms bringing ‘our personal interests to the fore’. So, rather than have all the family gathered around to watch a variety show, we’ll each be off in our own little worlds and on separate devices.

Could the future include personalised TV channels?

With the delivery of content meeting up with viewing demands, it is likely that our consumption of TV will probably continue to rise, but not by an extreme amount. After all, someone’s got to pay for all those devices, insuring them, and paying for enough data allowance to support all the streaming. Let’s hope service providers can rise to the opportunity and successfully fulfill everyone’s tastes and abilities.

The lounge room and the television may still remain the centre of the house, because as Deloitte suggests, ‘content is king’. Providers have now realised that viewers should be faced with much more choice and perhaps in future will demand our own personalised channels. Now, wouldn’t that be nice?


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