Nielsen have today released their multi-screen report into the Australian market which looks at how Australians are watching TV, incorporating the many new types of viewing platforms into their consumption habits. Over the final quarter 0f 2011, Nielsen found that viewing of television overall was rising.

Overall, TV viewing is strong and rising. The report cites that the average monthly time spent viewing television broadcast content in the home via conventional TV sets increased by 6.1% between Q4 2010 and Q4 2011 (by 6 hours and 31 minutes) to 113 hours and 38 minutes (All People figures). As you’d expect, this viewing fluctuates based on the season, with viewing time increasing over winter.


  • 95% of all homes have at least one DTT-enabled TV set (up from 90% in Q1 2011)
  • 70% of homes can receive DTT on every working TV set in the home (up from 55% in Q1)
  • 44% of households have access to time-shifting devices, such as PVRs (up from 37% in Q1)
  • Average monthly time spent viewing playback (recorded) television content has increased by 4 hours and 31 minutes (60%) since Q4 2010, now at 12 hours per month in Q4 2011
  • Approximately 99% of Australian households have at least one working TV set. Overall TV monthly reach (that is, where people watch at least some television during the period) has increased from 97% in Q4 2010 to 98% of Australians nationally in Q4 2011.

With the analogue TV switch-off taking place across Australia (currently in regional Australia, but occurring in metro areas from 2013), it makes sense that we’re seeing such an increase in the take-up of digital television viewership. Also, with general turnover rate of televisions being purchased/replaced, and the scarcity of analogue TV’s on store shelves, it makes sense that there would simply be fewer analogue TV’s in homes.


  • 77% of households are connected to the Internet (77% in Q1), providing potential access to online television video content.
  • Australians spent an average of 43 hours and 54 minutes per month using the Internet on a PC in Q4 2011 (up slightly from 43 hours and 33 minutes in Q1).
  • Australians spent an average of 3 hours and 27 minutes per month watching any online video (not just television broadcast content) in Q4 2011, up from 2 hours and 7 minutes in Q1 2011.
  • Smartphone take-up is increasing but video viewing on such devices remains small
  • An estimated 49% of Australians aged 14+ years own a smartphone (35% in Q1)
  • Users spend an average 1 hour and 20 minutes per month watching any video (not just television broadcast content) on a mobile phone (35 minutes in Q1), suggesting usage of such devices to view TV video content remains small.
  • An estimated 10% of metro households own at least one tablet device. Watching any video content on tablets grew from just 2% of the total online population at the end of 2010 to 5% by the end of 2011.
  • People aged 18-34 are the heaviest consumers of online video and video on mobile phones.

The combination of the extended screens (PC and mobile phone usage) for any video content still accounts for just 4% of the video consumption on traditional TV sets. And I’m sure this figure increases for any households featuring regular Q&A viewers.

  • 3 hours 27 minutes per month on PCs (All People)
  • 1 hour 20 minutes per month on mobiles (people aged 14+)
  • 113 hours 38 minutes per month on a traditional TV (All People)

While a lot of this data is very interesting, there are a few aspects to consider with this report. The report does not take into account downloaded content. So, all of those Doctor Who episodes you downloaded from p2p services this year doesn’t count. Likewise, video gaming doesn’t count. The report cites that:

Video content is defined as a stream where both audio and video are detected. Video viewership excludes adult and advertising content, as well as downloaded content.

What the report is doing is only taking into account active content and not content that is stagnant. That is to say that episode of Doctor Who you streamed off iView is valid, but the episode sitting on your hard drive is not. Ultimately that Doctor Who episode on a hard drive has just as much value to a report like this as a DVD or VHS copy of the show. That is to say that it doesn’t.

It’s also worth noting that adult and advertising content isn’t considered either. So, if you’re spending hours watching TV4ME, that doesn’t match the criteria set by Nielsen. Similarly, adult content (re: pornography) doesn’t get considered either. There appears to be no valid reason why neither are considered in the report. Morality aside, there is no real difference between one’s engagement of pornography streamed off a website than watching a cat video on YouTube. It’s still active (my definition) consumption of screen content. If one included streamed pornography into the statistics cited in the report, it would be interesting to see just how different the consumption habits look.

While the increase in digital/online viewership is interesting, it’ll be far more interesting to see in a couple of years when we start to see figures drop of those watching and time-shifting digital terrestrial television.

The full Australian Multi-Screen Report Nielsen can be downloaded off the Nielsen site.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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