iview costs hitting ABC hard

ABC's iview has become so successful and costing so much money to operate that it risks impacting on production content.

2013-08-29_0034ABC’s catch-up platform iview has become so successful and costing so much money to operate that the broadcaster is concerned it is impacting on production content.

iview scored 3.2m visits every month in the last financial year.

“It’s doubling every 18 months at the moment. There’s such a rapid take-up, not only of faster broadband but also the richness of the content,” said Director of Television Richard Finlayson told ABC’s PM.

“We have to pay every time a video is initiated. We have to use a content distribution network and that’s in the millions of dollars a year at the moment for the ABC.

“Every dollar that we spend on that is a dollar we can’t spend on content going onto the screen.”

iview cost the broadcaster $3m a year at launch in 2009 but now the traffic is so high some are calling for a subscription model for Aunty’s premium content.

“It’s not something that’s on the drawing board at the moment, as far as I’m aware,” Finlayson said.

But iview also ticks two very big requirements of the ABC Charter, firstly to innovate and secondly to bring more ABC content to more Australians.

The results of TV Tonight‘s Audience Inventory will be published soon, including the results of catch-up site popularity.

27 Responses

  1. Does anyone else think this is like paying for content twice?

    It is a failing of government that it funds terrestrial transmission but not the online equivalent. Invest the money there and you increase your reach and therefore the public’s return on investment.

    iview is going to start falling behind in the quality stakes as others make improvements.

  2. Reading between the lines, I sense some internal political tension between various departments. I get that TV wants as much money as possible for production but iView increases viewership and that’s a good thing. It has been one of the ABC’s great successes over the past few years. The challenges facing other areas are really a separate issue.

  3. I watch this content via the Laptop streaming on the TV, is it just me or is most of this iView pixelated?

    If I get a smart TV, and watch direct on that will the pixlelation disappear?

  4. The ABC should have set themselves up as an organisation years ago and launched a voluntary subscription service (like radio stations RRR, PBS, 3CR, FBI and etc., have). For that you could get discounts at the ABC Shop (and possibly even someone like JB Hi-Fi), have perhaps a quarterly magazine about all things ABC and exclusive content on iView (early preview eps of shows coming up). The radio stations do it in tiers like $35 for concession, $75 for regular and $100 for passionate, I am sure they could get a whole heap of people willing to voluntarily put in to keep the ABC going as is (SBS should also do the same).

  5. I’d pay for iView.

    But not if it was exclusively ABC. Whilst I do use IView I find the quality of the picture subpar especially on a large TV, maybe its me not knowing how to use it properly – my ADSL connection is hitting 16Mb yet its still quite a poor picture quality on my TV. Fine on a small screen.

    What would be nice is if the iView model could be taken by freeview and adapted so all FTA Broadcasters were accessible by the app – I would most definitely consider a small monthly subscription to access a plethora of FTA Content.

    Dreaming I know….

  6. granted that Android is more open… hasnt seem to have stopped other apps developing for both…. and ABC arent alone…as far as i know 9 havent… and Foxtel will only go on certain Android devices… but probably most people here are apple users…

  7. A victim of their own success. iView is the best catch-up system in Australia by a country mile, nothing else comes close, not least for being accessible directly through my TV. It’s no wonder it’s so popular when it’s being done so right.

  8. 1. iView (and abc.net.au) uses very large size files. Much larger than needed. Plus they still use a lot of Flash and WMV on their website which is a compete waste of bandwidth compered to mp4 and mp5. (same goes for Foxtel Go)

    2. It’s a pity the money we pay to ISP’s so we can access content, doesn’t actually get passed on to the content providers. Telstra, Optus, iiNet etc all get our $50-$100+ a month to access these things, but the providers themselves get nothing. That seems a dumb situation that sooner or later must be addressed.

  9. @davodavo6666 – Australia dumped the TV licencing concept because, at that time, the ABC rated very lowly and people complained about having to pay for something they never used. Likewise, now, I would complain having to pay a licence fee to pay for costs of things I never use, such as iview, etc.

  10. @muscledude_oz – “a 24 hour news network which duplicates Sky News”. – Never seen Sky News as, like most Australian households, don’t have pay-tv. And ABC24 is nothing like Sky News.
    “including possible privatisation”. Yep, sold Qantas, CBA, Telstra, CIG, COR, GIO, etc. – why not the ABC, which will then have to become a commercial network. Can see certain billionaires salivating right now.

  11. The ABC would be paying the ABC for ABC content.
    It is all the content owned by other people that will be costing them fees.

    Fairly simple solution to that.

    Once the BBC moves to Foxtel, the ABC’s content costs will drop dramatically.

  12. After beind bed bound recently, my use of catchup services increased last week. ABC iView was the best by far with the most content available and easy format via their iOS App.
    7Plus iOS App has an easy yet chunky interface and very limited content, I was really suprised at the lack of content available.
    SBS App was good to use, better than 7Plus in style and content. Not as good as iView.
    Nine have no app, and I don’t watch Nine, so didnt bother with their site either.
    TEN\Eleven have no iPad app, and their catchup site was finicky to use on iPad, as their site it not formatted for tablets. Videos cannot be viewed in full screen, commercials are cut in poorly and often the same ad played twice in the same segment. The synopsis is often generic, so you dont know which episode is which, or in one case the synopsis was not for the episode I was watching. TEN\Eleven really need an…

  13. @davodavo6666, there is actually a predicament for the UK as BBC iPlayer can be accessed without a tv licence. So, you don’t really need to pay a licence fee in the UK, if you watch everything through the iPlayer.

  14. I would say that rather than iView being a drain on ABC funds, the real culprits for wasting money is the maintenance of two digital children’s networks (ABC2 and ABC3) and a 24 hour news network which duplicates Sky News. Hopefully after Sept 7 there will be a full audit of this wasteful and self-indulgent organisation and major reforms – including possible privatisation – will take place.

  15. This is only an issue because the ABC and SBS are massively underfunded. If the Govt would stop being stingy then they would be able to afford it with no issues.

    The Govt wastes more money on useless reports that are never used or probably ever read.

  16. I love iview and watch it regularly but there’s no way I’d pay for the content. I’d prefer ads like SBS on Demand or Plus7. Perhaps they could copy the structure of Spotify for both revenue models?

  17. I support the idea of a subscription for premium content but the catch up stuff should remain free for at least a week after broadcast. Alternatively, they could have more repeats of first run programs in other timeslots on ABC1 or ABC2 so people can record and catch up without needing to use iView.

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