Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to speak about how we see the future of commercial free-to-air television broadcasting.Today, I’m going to look at;How Australians are watching television now and the importance of contentHow our businesses are adapting to the connected media world and how advertisers are respondingWhy spectrum will continue to underpin our core business in that connected worldSo to start off, how are Australians watching television now?
First of all, we’re in 99 per cent of homes. This means pretty much everyone watches television.And 70 per cent rely exclusively on free-to-air for their television services.And even in a world of ubiquitous broadband, only around 80 per cent of Australian households have an internet connection.
Our mass distribution gives us mass reach. 13.5 million people watch commercial television every day.This does have implications for how people consume television content – in ways that may surprise you.
For all the talk about new platforms and new devices and new ways of accessing content, guess what… TV is still the primary and preferred screen.Australians watch more than 3 hours of TV a day – about the same as five years ago.The time spent watching video on other screens is incremental to viewing of broadcast content on the TV set.The reason we think is…
It is all about content.This is why television matters. Free TV is the home of the best Australian and international content – we are both creators and aggregators.Even with flat revenue and ever increasing competition;Australian commercial free-to-air broadcasters invested a record $1.35 billion in Australian content in 2011-12.Covering drama, sport, news & current affairs, children's programming, light entertainment. No body else comes even close.
And Australians are responding to that investment.49 of the top 50 programs so far this year are Australian!But we don’t take our position for granted. Broadcasters always have an eye to the future
And ours already is a digital, connected world.The average Australian family has anywhere between 15 and 25 different digital devices: high-definition TVs, personal video recorders, smart phones, games consoles, computers and tablets.All of these have the capacity to access video content meaning you can watch what you want, when you want and on the device of your choice.
Broadcasters are already active in this space.A Nielsen study shows catch-up TV online services are proving extremely popular, with 1 in 4 Australians watching network catch-up TV online. This is in addition to the 3+ hours spent watchingtelevision on the TV set.New devices also keep viewers close to our content, well beyond the closing credits of their favourite shows.
Social TV apps including Fango, Jump In, and Zeebox provide access to huge online communities where viewers can engage and interact with content like never before.And as you know networks and individual programs are everywhere on social media. again, it is worth remembering people are adding to the time they spend viewing.
But the television platform remains central. This delivers the critical connection with viewers that advertisers need, because after all, we are an advertiser supported medium.We recently spoke to a range of media and marketing experts from Australia and around the world for our latest Think TV – 2020 Vision series. As we’ll hear advertisers are increasingly recognising the power of broadcast television combined with digital distribution.ROLL TAPEI agree with Sir John Hegarty, that this is ‘actually television’s golden age.’We have the content which creates powerful connections with a mass audience. And which in turn provides the perfect platform for our advertisers to build their brands and businesses.But all of this is underpinned by access to spectrum.
Spectrum has been the foundation of free-to-air television and will continue to be into the future. It is the bedrock on which content and advertising are built. It is the most efficient content delivery platform, from one-to-many.Spectrum has allowed free-to-air broadcasters to provide services to all Australians free-to-view.Everyone has equal access regardless of whether they live in the cities or in regional and remote areas. They all receive the same quality content. As part of the transition to digital, broadcasters have invested over $2 billion in the platform. And handed back nearly 50 per cent of analog broadcast spectrum. We know that the telcos who’ve bought this spectrum will use it to provide broadcast-like services to mobile devices for a fee. And their appetite for more spectrum remains undiminished.We understand the value of spectrum and the competing demands that are being made for it. But broadcasting, for all the reasons that we have talked about, will continue in the foreseeable future to be the major way that all Australians access our valuable content. It is important that we can continue to deliver these valued services for free to everyone. And to do that we need certainty of spectrum access.As the platform continues its evolution, spectrum is essential to the development of exciting new technologies and standards such as HbbTV, DVB-T2 and ultra high-definition formats.Enabling a migration path to these new technologies and standards is a key concern for broadcasters and is the focus of our spectrum planning.
In conclusion, broadcast television will remainthe core of what we do.The development and delivery of great Australian content will continue to drive the business. And the business will continue to change and adapt to exploit the opportunities of a connected world and manage the challenges.It’s not going to be a question of thisplatform or that, it’s going to be all of the above, and then some. So how do we see the future?There’s no simple answer to that question; our businesses are changing every day and we are embracing change. We are confident, however, that in future commercial free-to-air television will deliver;More and better content than ever, for free.More Australian-produced shows.Television and the internet seamlessly integrated on the main TV screen.An enhanced TV experience: where viewers are closer to and more engaged with the content they’re viewing and the products advertised.And the adoption of new spectrum technologies that will enable us to be even more efficient and relevant than we are today.
Julie Flynn, Chief Executive Officer, Free TV Australia