Here’s why 2016 was a tough year for the free-to-air and pay TV sectors (the likes of Foxtel and Nine have written down the value of their TV businesses, Ten warn that another impairment was likely, and Seven is almost certainly going to write down the value of its TV business later this year). Streaming video is growing rapidly even though Foxtel and Seven killed off their Presto service, leaving Stan (owned by Nine and Fairfax) as the only viable local competition for Netflix.

According to the Nielsen Consumer & Media View (Nielsen carries out the grunt work on Australian TV ratings on behalf of Oztam), there were 2.8 million Netflix subscribers in Australia out of the 7.1 million Australians using streaming video services. The services available in Australia (besides Netflix and Stan) include iview from the ABC, SBS on Demand, Seven Play, Tenplay and Nine’s on demand service. Nielsen wrote:

“Unique audiences visiting the Netflix website or app via a desktop/laptop, smartphone or tablet have increased by 48% when comparing Digital December 2016 ratings data to December the prior year. A majority of this year-on-year growth was driven by increased access via smartphones (+82%).

“Compared to population, Netflix users or subscribers are 89% more likely to be 18-24 year olds. There is also a skew to young white collar workers aged 25-39 years old. They come from affluent households, with the average household income of $102,000, well over the national average of $88,000 per year. And it appears the traditional date night of ‘Netflix and Chill’ has been replaced by family night. Netflix users/subscribers are 22% more likely than the rest of the Australian population to have children. 1 in 2 Netflix users/subscribers have young children (under the age of 13) in the home.”

Interestingly, the Nielsen data gives a figure much smaller than that from the Roy Morgan research group, which reported last December that Netflix’s  audience had reached more than 5.75 million.

Take your pick about which estimate is accurate. Nielsen’s 2016 figure came from its digital ratings data for December 2015 and 2016. Roy Morgan’s came from its own research. Netflix had an average 39.3 million international subscribers across 216 (and 44.37 million in the December quarter).  — Glenn Dyer

Peter Fray

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