Subscription television

Executive summary

With the plethora of global and increasingly local streaming services now available, the subscription television market is rapidly changing consumption behaviour and expectations of Australian viewers. COVID-19 has only accelerated this trend; consumer revenue forecast to surpass advertising revenue in the global market in the next five years.

The entrance of new platforms and services, and the continued investment in new content will drive subscription-led growth, with revenues forecast to grow at a 3.1 percent CAGR to A$3.846b in 2024.

Forecasts at a glance

Premium Box Delivered Market (A$ millions)

*2017 - 2018 figures have been updated to reflect recently available market information

CAGR 2019-2024 based on gradual recovery trajectory

Premium Box -6.88%

Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) Market (A$ millions)

*2016 - 2018 figures have been updated to reflect recently available market information

CAGR 2019-2024 based on gradual recovery trajectory

SVOD 16.15%

Total Subscription TV Market (A$ millions)

*2016 - 2018 figures have been updated to reflect recently available market information

CAGR 2019-2024 based on gradual recovery trajectory

Total 3.10%

Since June 2018, the Australian Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) market has rapidly expanded with new entrants including Amazon Prime, AppleTV+, Disney+, and more recently Foxtel’s Binge, as the arms race for content heats up.

In an increasingly competitive market, the SVOD services have a common strategy to secure the best and most attractive global and local content on their platforms. This comes through both the investment in and subsequent development of original content, as well as distribution deals with existing networks with deep catalogues of new and archival content.

In November 2019, Disney+ entered the SVOD market, exclusively offering content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic, which was previously housed across Foxtel and Stan.12 In May 2020, Foxtel launched Binge, which boasts content deals with Warner Bros, Sony and the BBC, and also offers subscribers a wide range of popular movies and documentaries.13 Stan, owned by Nine, has announced plans to produce 30 ‘original’ shows per year for the next five years, including both locally and internationally produced content.14

Despite the growing options, the platforms saw strong uptake; Roy Morgan reported that from February to May 2020, the number of  Australians with subscription television in the household increased 5.9 percent.15

An increase in availability of platforms and the onset of COVID-19 drove the acceleration of digital adoption resulted in strong uptake in subscriptions, with Roy Morgan reporting that 15.7 million Australians reported at least one television subscription service in the household at an average pricepoint of around $9.99 or less per month per streaming service.

According to Roy Morgan, Netflix continues to be the most popular platform, followed by Foxtel16, with 13.2 million and 5.5 million Australians citing they have a subscription within their household to these services respectively. Foxtel has reported that sport has been a driver of its success, with sports subscribers across the Foxtel premium platform and Kayo totalling almost 2 million combined17, although with growth driven via the streaming service at the expense of the traditional set top box/satellite service.

Despite conceding its catalogue of Disney content, Stan has seen strong results, with Stan reporting approximately 500,000 new subscribers for the financial year, up from 1.7 million for FY19 to just over 2.2 million.18

The video industry is likely to reach a tipping point in the forecast period, with subscription TV consumer revenue outstripping free-to-air TV advertising revenue as consumers are increasingly willing to pay for personalised content bundles and experiences.

As the SVOD industry in Australia recruits new subscribers, it increases its capacity to invest in content, thus increasing its catalogue and the resulting ability to personalise its offering, which consumers are demanding more and more. Personalisation relies on scale; the scale of a consumer base renders it sufficiently cost-effective to give rise to the creation of highly accurate content discovery and recommendation engines such as those offered by Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

Notwithstanding COVID-19 impacts to production schedules, the year has seen a significant strengthening of catalogues across the streaming services with a range of anticipated ‘Originals’ combined with a significant expansion of documentaries. 

As out of home entertainment substitutes re-enter household budgets, review of the number of streaming services may occur for some consumers. In the event that domestic services are not able to offer compelling content versus global competitors, they may need to explore different levers to maintain customers for example advertising funded models, or more attractive contractual terms.

The combination of available technology and content has fragmented the environment to the extent where consumers can get what they want on a platform that already exists and that they can afford to pay for. The world of almost infinite consumer choice is no longer a futuristic notion.

Australian Subscription TV price ranges:

Service

Price

Free trial period

Amazon Prime

$6.99/month

30 days

Apple TV+

$7.99/month

7 days

Binge

From $10/month

14 days

Disney+

$8.99/month or $89.99/year

7 days

Fetch TV

From $6/month None

Foxtel (box)

From $49/month

None

Foxtel Now

From $25/month

10 days

Netflix

From $10.99/month

None

Stan

From $10/month

30 days

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