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Consolidation in Australia’s VOD Market Begins

Australia’s leading pay TV provider FOXTEL during the last few years has struggled to increase pay TV penetration in Australia. The market has also seen the launch of competing OTT platforms, including Stan and Netflix. These offer competitively priced basic packages, commonly below AU$10 per month letting consumers’ view content at a time of their choosing. Traditional TV viewing patterns continue to fall gradually in Australian households, and the advent of OTT viewing as well as IPTV will see a more rapid shift from linear to time-shifted TV in coming years.

The distribution advantage held by FOXTEL is slipping away as the NBN becomes built out over a greater number of premises, so expanding the reach of capable broadband infrastructure which enables subscribers to access OTT and IPTV content.

Following the end of analogue broadcasting, Australians have been able to access many more Free-to-Air TV channels as digital broadcasts. Although there are more channels available, the number of viewing hours has remained relatively stable for a number of years, and as a result individual channels, and particularly specific shows, have seen declining viewer numbers. Viewing habits have also been affected by the advent of catch-up TV services, which are available from the main broadcasters. In addition, subscription video services from operators such as Stan and Netflix are further eroding live TV viewing as subscribers choose instead to watch programs at a time of their choosing.

There are two major categories of paid online video content: Pay-per-view video-on-demand (PVOD) and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services. SVOD has emerged as the major category of paid online content in Australia. The global streaming revolution is gathering pace. Streaming is closing in on broadcast TV. The entry of SVOD providers Netflix, Presto TV and Stan saw a rapid update of SVOD services. This rapid increase in the rate of adoption of SVOD is occurring where high quality broadband is already available. The NBN will accelerate this trend as the mass deployment of high quality (fibre) broadband takes place via the NBN and will significantly decrease cost of delivery of SVOD.

The Internet now rivals broadcast TV as a vehicle to deliver consumer content. Its shift in user behaviour continues to drive change in the TV and media industries, prompting a move away from old formats and business models and ushering in an era of high-quality, on-demand entertainment. The broadcasters have been late entering the market – their focus has been on protecting their traditional business which are under threat from declining revenues, rather than on establishing a strong foothold in the SVOD market. Amongst the existing pay TV or free-to-air subscriptions there will be increased pressure on profitability as competition for content pushes up the cost of licensing. One of the few options left for broadcasters (and other traditional media companies) is to merge, in order to cut costs and increase their customer base.

In addition to Free-to-Air TV, pay TV is also under increasing structural pressure from SVOD providers such as Netflix. Fetch TV is emerging as a strong competitor to the incumbent Foxtel. Slowly but surely the NBN is being rolled out and this is something that also benefits Fetch, whose services are delivered via broadband. This distribution media supplies a great opportunity to offer an alternative to Australia’s leading pay TV service Foxtel.

With such a large number of national and international players competing consolidation is starting to take place. Quickflix has been forced to exit the market in 2016, followed by Foxtel’s Presto service later on in that year. BuddeComm predicts that the rate of SVOD growth moving into 2018 and 2019 will begin to taper off and eventually level off in around five years time.

For detailed information, table of contents and pricing see: Australia – Video Streaming, Broadcasting and Pay TV