Australians spent more than $8 billion on streaming and gaming last year as prolonged COVID-19 restrictions across states such as NSW and Victoria led people to splurge on entertainment at home.
New data released today in PwC’s 2022 Australian Media and Entertainment Outlook says households averaged about 2.6 television streaming services in 2021 and spent about $40 per month to ensure they had access to programs such as Succession, Bridgerton and Yellowstone. More than 75 per cent of households paid for at least one streaming service last year, a figure which is expected to increase to 80 per cent by the end of this year.
PwC Australia Director and Australian Entertainment and Media Outlook Editor Dan Robins said people used the sector to alleviate boredom. ‘‘ As in-person events return , this spending is likely to extend alongside habits around subscriptions , gaming and access to content likely to stick,’’ he said.
‘‘ It was broadly believed consumers were stockpiling savings and consumer spending may have been down, given that in-person events are still only steadily returning and crowds returning through late 2021 and into 2022, this is certainly not the case.’’
Australians spent a total of $4.4 billion on subscription streaming services last year, compared to $1.1 billion on news media, $1.2 billion on music and $353 million on magazines.
Majority of people, according to Roy Morgan research cited by PwC, were watching Netflix . Foxtel and its streaming services Binge and Kayo Sports are the second most watched (reaching about 7.1 million citizens). Services such as Amazon Prime, Stan and Disney+ are typically watched by over 4 million Australians a month. Nine Entertainment Co owns Stan and The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Australians spent $3.6 billion on video games. Most of the money spent on the media and entertainment sector was on internet access – $31.6 billion – which became crucial for people as they worked from home. The growth in spend contributed to a $510 annual increase in the amount of money the typical household spent on entertainment and media ($4,500, up 12 per cent on pre-pandemic times). This brought total consumer spending on media and entertainment in 2021 to $45.6 billion.
Subscription and advertisingsupported platforms broke ratings records in the last two years with people spending more time at home. Australian media companies are lobbying the federal government to introduce regulation that will make it easier for the public to find local streaming apps on smart televisions. The television broadcasters believe this will be key to driving growth for the sector in the future.
PwC’s report says online video services such as 9Now, 7Plus and 10Play are driving revenue growth for free-to-air television, which was struggling with audiences as people started watching shows online.
‘‘ The [free-to-air ] sector is evolving and has seen a strong revenue resurgence in 2021, and 2022 forecasts suggesting a return to levels not seen since 2017,’’ the report says. ‘‘ Underpinning this evolution is the rapid growth of [broadcast video on demand] across all major Australian FTA networks, who continue to invest significant amounts in improving the user experience of digital programming.’’
PwC said advertising spend grew to $19.7 billion in 2021, up 20.3 per cent on the year prior and 17.3 per cent compared to 2019. Majority of this money was driven by internet advertising – $10.7 billion – but $3.7 billion was invested in free-to-air television and $1.1 billion in news media.
‘‘ This was a year of advertiser spending growth like no other seen in the history of the Outlook,’’ the report states, adding it anticipates spend to flatten over the next five years.
Australians have about 6.5 premium subscriptions from about 115 video-on- demand, audio, news and lifestyle content and gaming platforms . PwC’s report cites Optus research, which forecasts this figure to grow to 10 per household over the next five to seven years.
This article by Zoe Samios appeared in the July 18, 2022 issue of The Age Digital Edition. To subscribe, visit “https://www.theage.com.au”.