Audience Inventory 2014: Free to Air results

Readers endorse ABC, but tire of Reality TV at the expense of other genres and turn to content elsewhere.


TV Tonight readers have thrown their arms around the ABC in the 2014 Audience Inventory, in 964 completed surveys.

Free to Air commercial TV still dominates preferred viewing, but there are underlying concerns about its delivery.

Readers voted ABC the most Reliable at starting shows on time, most Trustworthy and best at Rescheduling cancelled shows. There was also a big response to the issues of Public Broadcasters Remaining Independent of Government Influence and Having Funding Maintained, contrasted by a decided lack of enthusiasm for Merging ABC and SBS.

By contrast Nine was most most Unreliable, most Untrustworthy and worst at Rescheduling cancelled shows, with Seven second in all three categories.

That’s a bad rap given that readers still define their three biggest concerns as: Keeping an EPG Up to Date; Finishing a Series Once it Starts; Shows Starting / Finishing on Time. These three have topped the list of viewer concerns across all 6 years of the Audience Inventory.

There were rises in Second Screen viewing this year, with 45% of readers now saying they partake in this every day. Internet surfing dominates second-screen use with official network platforms still trailing well behind other social media sites.

This year there were questions on Timeshifting for the first time, with big divisions emerging. While 25% of viewers noted they don’t Timeshift at all, another 22% are Timeshifting three-quarters of their viewing and 21% are Timeshifting a quarter of total viewing. What is most startling is that 26% of readers indicated they usually Timeshift from 7:30pm, and another 21% said they start as early as 6:30pm. Industry wisdom that suggests viewers are Timeshifting from 9:30pm may need further scrutiny, with just 7% indicating it was their preferred start time.

iview was again voted the most popular Catch-Up service and the only one voted Excellent by readers. The popularity of tenplay has also increased.

Amongst the comments this year there were repeated calls for less Reality, more Drama and Comedy and fewer Ads. Together with unreliable programming, these combined factors are sending more and more viewers to Timeshifting and internet-sourced content.

The trend towards this cannot be understated.

44% indicated they use an Australian-based IPTV service choosing Apple TV / iTunes, Other option and Telstra TBox as their preferred providers. Foxtel’s Presto made a disappointing debut.

35% of readers indicated they are using a non-Australian based IPTV service. Of those “Other” was the most popular followed by Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Note a strong response to the issues of Legal, Affordable Downloads, Promptly Available and Completing the Installation of the NBN.

As this is the sixth year of the Audience Inventory, comparative trends are denoted where applicable.

* denotes multiple answers allowed

Which of the following do you watch regularly? *
Free to Air Commercial TV 85%
Free to Air Public Broadcaster TV 58%
Subscription TV 37%
Community TV 3%

There was a slight rise in viewership of Public Broadcasters.

Do you have Digital or Analogue TV?
HD TV 78%
HD Set Top Box 18%
SD Set Top Box 3%
Analogue TV 1%

Which FTA channels do you watch regularly? *
ABC 78%
TEN 71%
Seven 66%
Nine 60%
ABC2 46%
GO! 37%
7mate 35%
ABC News 24 32%
SBS 2 32%
7TWO 30%
ONE 29%
GEM 25%
WIN 10%
Southern Cross 10%
Prime 10%
ABC3 9%
Community TV 3%
NBN 3%
Imparja 0.3%

Down: Seven, GEM.

Which PVRs do you have? *
Other 40%
No PVR 30%
IQ / IQ2 28%
MyStar 3%

Up: IQ / IQ2

Which network is the most reliable for starting on time?
ABC 60%
Foxtel 19%
SBS 12%
TEN 6%
Seven 2%
Nine 1%

An improvement by SBS this year.

And the most unreliable?
Nine 48%
Seven 42%
TEN 8%
ABC 1%
SBS 1%
Foxtel 0%

Nine overtakes Seven as most Unreliable network.

Which network is the most trustworthy at delivering your shows?
ABC 53%
Foxtel 22%
SBS 10%
TEN 8%
Seven 5%
Nine 3%

SBS lifts in the ‘Trustworthy’ stakes while Nine drops.

And most untrustworthy at delivering your shows?
Nine 51%
Seven 29%
TEN 17%
ABC 1%
Foxtel 1%
SBS 1%

Nine has risen as ‘Untrustworthy’ while Seven has improved.

Who is best at rescheduling cancelled shows?
ABC 35%
TEN 21%
Foxtel 19%
Seven 13%
Nine 6%
SBS 6%

Foxtel improves this year but Seven and Nine both drop.

And worst?
Nine 50%
Seven 33%
TEN 16%
Foxtel 1%
ABC 1%
SBS 0%

Which do you use for TV guide info? *
On screen EPG 59%
Online guide 48%
Foxtel Guide 31%
App on smartphone / tablet 25%
Weekly Newspaper Guide 20%
Daily Newspaper guide 11%
Magazine guide 9%
ICE Guide 6%
Other 3

Up: online guide.
Down: Weekly newspaper guide

And which do you most prefer?
On screen EPG 32%
Online guide 22%
Foxtel Guide 20%
App on smartphone / tablet 10%
Weekly Newspaper Guide 9%
Magazine guide 3%
ICE Guide 3%
Daily Newspaper guide 2%
Other 1%

Up: online guide.

Degree of satisfaction with multichannels

ABC News 24




No change for multichannels!

Which is your preferred second-screen device?
PC or Mac 35%
Tablet 33%
Smartphone 19%
None 14%

PC / Mac regains top spot over Tablet.

Which second-screen platforms do you use regularly? *
Internet (surfing) 78%
Facebook 48%
Twitter 30%
Blogs / Forums 22%
None 14%
Other 5%
Jump In 4%
Beamly 4%
Fango 1%

There was a big rise this year for Internet surfing, but drops for Facebook, Twitter and the renamed Beamly.

How often do you use second-screen whilst watching TV?
Every day 45%
A few times a week 22%
Never 16%
A few times a month 8%
“Event TV” only 3%
Less than once a month 3%
About once a month 2%

The number of viewers using second screens Every Day takes a sharp rise while the amount of people who have Never used second-screens tumbles.

Which official online Catch-Up TV services do you use? *
iview 62%
tenplay 38%
SBS on Demand 30%
Plus7 27%
None 21%
Foxtel Go 19%
Jump-In 19%

Despite being the most popular catch-up service, iview has slipped this year while tenplay is well up.

How often do you watch official Catch-Up services?
Once or twice a month 29%
Rarely or never 28%
A few times a week 19%
About once a week 19%
Once a day or more 5%

Once a month overtakes Never for top spot this year.

Which device do you primarily watch official Catch-Up services?
PC or Mac 40%
Tablet 23%
TV 18%
None 12%
Smartphone 5%
Other 1%

More viewers are using smartphones this year than last year.

Please rate your satisfaction with each Catch-Up Service


Foxtel Go
SBS On Demand


Do you use an Australian based IPTV service?  * (56% of respondents skipped this question)
Apple TV / iTunes 43%
Other option 25%
Telstra TBox 13%
Fetch TV 7%
Quickflix 6%
BBC iPlayer 5%
Presto 1%

Presto makes an entry this year but it’s a very modest debut, suggesting a slow uptake.

Which non-Australian based IPTV services do you use? * (65% of respondents skipped this question)
Other 51%
Netflix 36%
BBC iPlayer 23%
Hulu 20%
Amazon Prime 5%

It was the first time this question was asked.

How much Australian TV do you watch as Timeshifted?
None 25%
About 75 percent 22%
About 25 percent 21%
About 100 percent 17%
About 50 percent 15%

What time do you usually start to Timeshift?
7:30pm 26%
I don’t really Timeshift 26%
6:30pm or earlier 21%
8:30pm 17%
9:30pm 7%
10:30pm or later 3%

Both Timeshifted questions were new for 2014.

Which is the more offensive on TV?
None 45%
Violence 37%
Strong language 10%
Sexual content & references 9%

Have you ever participated in a Ratings survey?
No. Never been asked. 79%
Yes, in the last 5 years. 11%
Yes, more than 10 years ago. 5%
No, but I have been asked to participate. 3%
Yes in the last 5 -10 years. 2%

Rate any or all of the following FTA issues
Keeping an EPG up to date
Finishing a series once it starts
Shows starting / finishing on time
ABC, SBS independent of govt influence
ABC, SBS funding maintained
Legal, affordable downloads, promptly available
Completing the installation of the NBN
ABC maintaining in-house productions
Multichannels offering genuine alternatives, not simulcasts
Making primary channels HD
Punishment for breaches of the Code of Practice
Banning gambling ads
Playing sport live and in HD
Reducing on screen clutter (watermarks etc)
Catch-Up TV adding content swiftly after broadcast
Catch-Up TV
Catch Up shows available on all devices
OzTAM ratings coding to reflect EPG titles
Less Twitter included during broadcasts
Making TV ratings = Metro + Regionals
Australia Network retained

Promos that fairly represent the show
Maintaining local content in regional Australia
More Aussie content on Digital Channels
Better bandwidth for multichannels
More subtitles for the hearing impaired
Starting programmes “on the half hour”
Rolling full credits at the end of a show

Dropping Reach Rule for broadcasters
HbbTV / FreeviewPlus
Implementing new Anti-Siphoning List rules
Copyright protection from illegal piracy


3D broadcasts
Merging public broadcasters

All results have been rounded.

Still to come: Pay TV Results

16 Responses

  1. People thinking that 3D broadcasts is not important. I can’t believe this. In case if there is massive sporting events like FIFA World Cup, Winter Olympics, Summer Olympics, Commonwealth Games and State of Origin, they might need to put 3D just in case.

  2. Rolling full credits at the end of a show = very important to me!
    There have been two episodes of the new Doctor Who season. I’ve recorded them on the Foxtel IQ and watched them later in the day.
    Both times I held my breath hoping that the ABC wouldn’t talk over the music and credits or shrink them and show previews of other shows!
    So far so good!
    If they do start wrecking the endings I’ll be sourcing the show elsewhere! I swear!

  3. Thanks again for all your hard work DK….
    I am surprised more people do not go to Ice TV…I have a few I can access quickly…but always find IceTV the most accurate, especially with changes.
    Also I find Tenplay good to watch despite the few ads..almost as good as Iview…SBS also not bad…..Sevens catchup can be a real struggle…often….and I never have a reason to go to Nines catchup.

  4. @Bogues

    As someone who did fill in this survey, you could mark all networks. So 78% of us watch it sometime during the week. That’s how you have to look at it.

    Great survey again David. Some results surprised me a bit but just shows viewing habits are changing.

  5. Which of the following do you watch regularly? “Free to Air Public Broadcaster TV 58%” Which FTA channels do you watch regularly? “ABC 78%”.

    Something doesn’t compute here. I guess the survey is only as accurate as the people who fill it in.

  6. I’m of the opinion OzTam numbers reflect a target socio-economic group whereas readers of this site reflect and more astute and forward thinking audience. I don’t find it surprising to see articles starting to appear in mainline print media about “reality saturation” and “reality boredom” setting in. Readers of TV Tonight have been saying that for quite some time.

    Admit it David, your site is ahead of the times 🙂

    1. As the story indicates the results are according to readers of the site. 964 is a good sample size and across the 6 years the results have been uncannily similar, meaning I am comfortable they reflect site audience. This is why trends and shifts are very telling. As to how to apply it to the wider community, I would consider it anecdotal. As I mentioned recently, online audience was also the first to start pirating illegally, which many execs dismissed as the plaything of a few young rebels. Now they programming to combat it. With a big surge of respondents indicating they are tiring of Reality and its overruns, it could suggest a trend is now taking hold that will show more impact as it ricochets wider.

  7. The thing to pint out is that readers of TV Tonight let alone those who contribute to the survey (I for one never got around to it this year) do not constitute what the general population watch on TV so therefore the results here will naturally be different to overall ratings.

    It very similar to the argument I often hear where friends will say “how can that show be number one all the time – I don’t know anyone who watches it!” or “why does that show not do better in ratings – everyone I know watches it!” – the concept of people with similar likes ending up as friends.

  8. The big question is…will networks take note of what we think? Especially given we (TV Tonight readers) are saying the same thing year in, year out.

    I noticed that ‘starting on the half hour’ is important to most viewers. I didn’t realise how important when we wanted to watch 60 Minutes (not a regular occuance in our household, but the story intrigued us) and we missed the beginning because it started at the odd time of 8.10pm-ish! Funny how 60 Minutes used to always be at 7.30pm. Gone are those days I guess….

    Thanks for the detailed results. An intersting read. Agree with @TasTVcameraman on TV Tonight viewers being strong ABC and 10 followers. Hmmm…the plot thickens on those ratings results….

  9. What is surprising is the viewing habits of TVTonight with 78% for ABC and 71% for TEN, These figures probably show that there needs to be more oZTAM ratings boxes out there to give a better representative view of what people are watching.

  10. I am one of the viewers who watched most of their stuff via catch up services. I’m always out weeknights socializing with friends or doing things so don’t have time to watch amazing race and x factor at home live. Not that it would count anyway as I don’t have an oztam box

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