FreeTV towers over Pay…doesn’t it?

Nothing like a good bit of spin when it comes to the fight between the Free to Air networks and Pay Television.

The latest press release from Free TV Australia (which represents Seven, Nine and TEN) reckons that in Survey 3 people in Pay TV homes were watching more Free TV than they did in Survey 2.

In Survey 2, Free TV says it overtook Pay TV in terms of share of nightly viewing in Pay TV households with a 46.5% share, and by Survey 3 48.7% of nightly viewing in pay TV homes, while Pay TV accounted for only 43.4% of nightly viewing. The data is selective, excluding ABC and SBS, and focusses on 6pm – midnight.

If you were just looking at the graphs you might think there had been a huge turnaround in the third Survey. After all, that Free TV column is more than twice the size of the Pay TV one, right?


It’s 48.7% to 43.4%.

So how come it’s twice the size please?


  1. Simple point most people wouldn’t even get to see such stats and those really interested would (in most cases) pick out the issue you raised.

    I’m just commenting on the lack of any top level news in general, your site does a great job so nothing criticism of

  2. Secret Squïrrel

    The graph is deceptive but it’s common practice to focus on the region of difference/interest. However, as in this case, it does seem to often be used for spin rather than clarity. This example is actually worse than normal because they haven’t even included any units on the y-axis. Thesportsfreak has already said that the bottom line of the graphs is 40% and the (invisible) top line just under the subtitle is 50% which seems about right.

    I’m also wondering about how the shares of FTA and Pay add to more than 100%. I guess some of the households surveyed were watching both.

  3. Well in the first two there is only about 1% difference, but in the last one its more like 3% so the scaling itself is probably correct if you were to do the graph yourself.

    • Brett if I were to do the graph myself, 43.4% would be a lot closer visually to 48.7% than this one… that said I agree that ultimately there are more important issues to address in Free TV!

  4. Alex,

    We’re exactly the same – had Austar for 10 years and got rid of it in Feb this year and we don’t miss it at all. Far too many ads on Fox 8, too much repetition on all channels, low picture quality (if you don’t pay >$30 a week for HD) compared to SD freeview channels and quite a few channels still in 4:3 ratio (including the new BBC Wild). I’m looking forward to the ABC 24 hour news channel.

  5. ITA the survey is flawed for one good reason, not everyone have PayTV and the graphic is misleading. Did they just survey those with PayTV or all viewers?

    @Mac the subscription fees don’t come close to paying for PayTV, with less coverage they get less per ad and all the shows and infrastructure costs a lot.

    I could live without PayTV but I choose not to. I rarely rent DVDs anymore so I figure just a few new release movies per month goes a long way to paying for the service.

  6. The percentages are meaningless. It’s pointless junk. This is about advertising spin. You need averages, means, standard deviations, sample size to make any meaningful conclusions from the data.

  7. Never had Foxtel, still far from interested. If I’m gonna pay for TV, it’s gotta come completely commercial free but that simply aint happening.

  8. if it weren’t on this webiste being explained nobody would have looked nor cared.

    this must be the slowest tv news week of all time

    • Rob…. there will always be a mix of heavy and light news here, from major interviews, to scheduling changes, to curious observations, to silly news, to breaking news, to clips.. .blah blah blah…. sum of the parts makes up a TV whole (and sometimes a TV hole). If you would prefer to follow TV Week, The Age, Entertainment Tonight, TIME Magazine, Today Tonight, Dateline or the Wall Street Journal I ain’t stoppin ya….

      On this ‘slow’ news day I’ve logged 14 stories as of 3pm.

  9. good observation david, clearly misleading, i wouldn’t be surprised though if fta viewing is higher than pay during prime time, most of the foxtel i watch is during that day or late at night.

  10. That’s definitely misleading.
    We had Foxtel for quite a while but realized we were only using the IQ function for basically FTA TV and watching an occasional sporting event. So we got rid of it and haven’t even noticed that we don’t have Foxtel anymore.

  11. It’s a turn-around but it is a crappy graph design. Oh well as least education people look at the numbers and not just at the graphs, like you did David

  12. I have Foxtel, but i watch FTA more. The only time i watch Foxtel is during the day while I’m having lunch because theres nothing to watch on FTA. From 6pm onwards, the only shows i watch are on FTA. I love Foxtel, but they need newer stuff, I’m bored of all the repeats. IQ is the best thing about Foxtel tbh!

  13. What does this survey even mean?
    What days was it taken on? Was survey 3 on Origin night?

    Also need to compare the fact that (almost) 100% of homes have free-to-air while only about 30% (I think) have foxtel.

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