Audience Inventory 2016: Free to Air results


The results are in for the annual TV Tonight Audience Inventory.

There were 1028 surveys completed in the 8th year of the survey.

Once again readers have voted ABC on top of multiple categories, including most watched channel, most reliable and trustworthy broadcaster in scheduling. ABC topped best for starting on time, and iview is the preferred Catch-Up service.

Nine again ranked lowest on the reliable and trustworthy questions.

For the second year in a row readers said the most Important issue in Free to Air was “ABC, SBS independent of govt influence.” Once again they voted “Merging public broadcasters” as Not Important. There was also a noticeable shift on the question of “ABC improving political balance”: last year under an Abbott govt it was considered a Very Important issue. 12 months on it is now regarded as “No Opinion.”

But while ABC still came out on top, it also saw small drops in overall results, including those who watch Public Broadcasters slipping from 63% of readers to 58%.

The most dramatic rise from last year was on the question of those who watch Streaming TV, up from 41% to 50%. But Pay TV also improved on a number of fronts too.

The arrival of new multichannels 7flix, 9Life and SBS Food Network shows they trail more established multichannels, with many viewers indicating No Opinion on them as yet. However with 3 new channels -together with the rise of Streaming- overall audiences for Free to Air channels have dropped across the board. Free to Air Commercial viewing matched its 80% result from 2015, but it is further fragmented across more individual channels.

Some issues that often attract plenty of interest in political and media circles are of low priority to audiences: Dropping Reach Rule for broadcasters, Trimming the anti-siphoning list and questions around Illegal Piracy. Viewers want more fundamental issues sorted first, including accurate EPGs, their shows starting on time and completing the NBN.

Results that have shifted more than 2% are noted below.

* denotes multiple answers allowed

Which of the following do you watch regularly?*

Free to Air Commercial 80%
Free to Air Public Broadcaster 58%
Streaming (subscription) 50%
Pay TV 48%
Community TV 2%

Up: Streaming, Pay TV
Down: Public Broadcaster

Do you have HD TV?*
HD TV 89%
HD Set top box 16%
No 6%
SD set top box 1%

Which FTA channels do you watch regularly?*
ABC 74%
TEN 66%
Seven 56%
Nine 48%
SBS 43%
ABC2 37%
ABC News 24 33%
SBS 2 27%
GO! 26%
7mate 24%
7TWO 22%
GEM 19%
9Life 19%
ONE 16%
SBS Food Network 15%
7flix 15%
WIN (Regional) 13%
Prime 10%
Southern Cross 10%
ABC3 6%
NBN 3%
Community TV 2%
Imparja 1%

Down: ABC, TEN, Seven, Nine, SBS, ABC2, ELEVEN, GO!, 7mate, 7TWO, GEM, ONE.

Which PVRs do you have?*
No PVR 28%
IQ2 25%
Other 22%
IQ3 12%
Topfield 10%
Fetch TV 6%
IQ 5%
Tivo 3%
Beyonwiz 3%
My Star 3%

Up: IQ3 has doubled
Down: A Fetch TV option was added this year which sees Other drop

Do you subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
No 73%
Yes 23%
Not sure 4%

Down: Yes.

Do you buy TV episodes online such as through Apple TV or iTunes?
No 74%
Yes occasionally 17%
Yes but just one title 5%
Yes frequently 4%

Which network is the most reliable for starting on time?
ABC 52%
Foxtel 28%
SBS 10%
TEN 6%
Seven 3%
Nine 2%

Up: Foxtel
Down: ABC

Which network is the most Trustworthy at delivering your shows?
ABC 50%
Foxtel 28%
TEN 8%
SBS 7%
Seven 4%
Nine 2%

Down: ABC

Who is best at rescheduling cancelled shows?
ABC 36%
Foxtel 28%
TEN 15%
Seven 9%
Nine 7%
SBS 5%

Up: Foxtel

Which do you use for TV guide info?*
On Screen EPG 57%
Online guide 42%
Foxtel EPG 40%
App on smartphone / tablet 25%
Weekly Newspaper Guide 14%
Magazine Guide 8%
Daily Newspaper Guide 6%
ICE Guide 4%
Other 3%

Up: Foxtel EPG
Down: Weekly Newspaper Guide

And which do you most prefer?
On Screen EPG 29%
Foxtel EPG 25%
Online guide 18%
App on smartphone / tablet 11%
Weekly Newspaper Guide 7%
Magazine Guide 3%
ICE Guide 3%
Other 2%
Daily Newspaper Guide 2%

Up: Foxtel EPG
Down: On Screen EPG

Degree of satisfaction with multichannels* 

ABC News 24




SBS Food Network

New multichannels SBS Food Network, 7flix and 9Life still have some work to do.

Which is your preferred second-screen device?
Tablet 35%
PC or Mac 29%
Smartphone 25%
None 11%

Which second-screen platforms do you use regularly?*
Online Browsing 72%
Facebook 51%
Twitter 36%
Instagram 23%
Blogs / Forums 22%
None 12%
Network official site 7%
Other option 5%

Up: Facebook, Twitter
Down: Online browsing

How often do you use second-screen whilst watching TV?
Every day 50%
A few times a week 22%
Never 13%
A few times a month 6%
Less than once a month 4%
“Event TV” only 3%
About once a month 2%

Which official online Catch-Up TV services do you use?*
iview 64%
tenplay 38%
SBS On Demand 36%
PLUS7 29%
Foxtel Go 27%
9NOW 20%
None 19%

Up: tenplay, SBS On Demand, Plus7, Foxtel Go

How often do you watch official Catch-Up services?
Once or twice a month 26%
Rarely or never 25%
A few times a week 25%
About once a week 18%
Once a day or more 6%

Up: A few times a week
Down: Once or twice a month

Which device do you use to watch Catch-Up services?*
PC or Mac 41%
TV 40%
Tablet 35%
Smartphone 14%
None 13%
Other 6%

Down: PC or Mac

Please rate your satisfaction with each Catch-Up Service* 


Foxtel Go
SBS On Demand



Up: tenplay

How much TV do you watch “non-Live”?
About 75 percent 37%
About 25 percent 21%
About 50 percent 19%
About 100 percent 18%
None 5%

Up: About 25%

What time do you usually start to watch Timeshift?
6:30pm or earlier 30%
7:30pm 27%
8:30pm 19%
I just watch broadcast TV 9%
9:30pm 9%
10:30pm or later 6%

Up: 8:30pm
Down: 6:30pm or earlier

Rate any or all of the following FTA issues*
ABC, SBS independent of govt influence
Keeping an EPG up to date
Shows starting / finishing on time
Finishing a series once it starts
ABC, SBS funding maintained
Completing the installation of the NBN
Regional viewers having access to all FTA channels
Legal, affordable content promptly available
ABC maintaining in-house productions
Multichannels offering better alternatives not simulcasts
Catch-Up TV adding content swiftly after broadcasting
Making primary channels HD
Banning gambling ads
Catch-Up shows available on all devices
Reducing on-screen clutter (watermarks etc)
Playing Sport Live and in HD
Catch Up TV
Less Reality TV
Punishment for Breaches of the Code of Practice
Less Twitter included during broadcasts
Making TV ratings = Metro + Regional
OzTAM ratings codings to reflect EPG titles
Maintaining local content in Regional Australia
Starting programmes “on the half hour”

Promos that fairly represent the show
Better bandwidth for multichannels
Live streaming of channels
More Aussie content on digital channels
Rolling full credits at the end of a show

Dropping Reach Rule for broadcasters
Hbb TV / Freeview Plus
Trimming the anti-siphoning list
More subtitles for the hearing impaired
Laws against illegal piracy
ABC improving political balance

Merging public broadcasters
Shutting down illegal piracy websites

Maintaining local content in Regional Australia moves from Important to Very Important
ABC improving political balance drops from Very Important to No Opinion
Better bandwidth for multichannels drops from Very Important to Important
Laws against illegal piracy moves from Not Important to No Opinion
Regional audiences having access to all FTA channels makes a strong debut this year.

Which is the more offensive on TV?
None 47%
Violence 38%
Sexual content and references 9%
Strong language 6%

Have you ever participated in a Ratings survey?
No never been asked 76%
Yes in the last 5 years 11%
Yes more than 10 years ago 8%
No but I have been asked to participate 4%
Yes in the last 5-10 years 1%

All results have been rounded.

Monday: Pay TV Results
Tuesday: Streaming Results


  1. I would watch a lot more catchup TV if the providers made the sites usable on more platforms. The worst for me is iView (the one I would use the most) which is totally incompatible with my tablet.

  2. I’m surprised that people liked tenplay. I’ve had so many issues with it, and even when it does work it’s frustrating to use. It’s never been anything but a piece of crap for me.

    • Shows always freeze and the audio and video get out of sync when I use the Tenplay website. However, I have had no issues since I started using the Tenplay app for Windows 10 on my PC. I get maximum one ad per break.

  3. Um what?

    Which of the following do you watch regularly?*
    Free to Air Public Broadcaster 58%

    Which FTA channels do you watch regularly?*
    ABC 74%

    So the result for the first question is actually 74%? Don’t people understand the question?

    • Which of the following do you watch regularly?*
      Free to Air Public Broadcaster 58%
      Which FTA channels do you watch regularly? ABC 74%
      The responses are not out of 100. They are multiple selections. “Regularly”, not “Exclusively”.
      Don’t people understand the question?
      When I go shopping 58% of my shopping is fruit. 74% of my fruit is apples.

      • I think your have missed my point. If 74% of respondents watch ABC regularly, then it stands to reason that – ABC being a public broadcaster – those 74% watch public broadcasters regularly.

        Maybe the two public/commercial broadcaster questions are redundant, because they are actually answered better by the FTA channel question.


    • Its 1028 people in a country of over 20 million with no scientific selection process. Its interesting to see how others responded but has little value beyond that.

      • As a regular long time reader of this blog, I find cnrmlj’s comments a bit indignant. TVTonight’s readership is a rare forum in which the general public and industry insiders of all levels mingle. The scope of eyes on these results is wide and I’m glad to have been a part of the survey once again. 1,028 is a decent response considering how loathe to share opinions in survey format the Aussie public can be. I always look forward to the results.

        • That’s fine, but they aren’t. My point is why would networks listen the results of a survey that aren’t reflective of the general population. 48% of those surveyed watch pay tv regularly yet pay tv is only in 30% of houses so there is some level of distortion in the survey. I find the results interesting myself, but they are not representative of the broader television audience.

      • Surely they would take every bit of free marketing research they can get, which is why they should also be keeping an eye on blogs, forums and social media. The challenge is how much weight to give to small samples, or ones that only represent the population who uses digital media to discuss TV.

      • A survey never has a “scientific selection process”. It has to be a random selection or an opt in.
        The size of the entire population doesn’t matter when you’re measuring the accuracy of polls. You could have 250,000 people or 250 million and that won’t affect how big your sample needs to be to come within your desired margin of error. The Math Gods just don’t care. In this instance 1,000 in 20,000,000 produced a Margin of Error of 2.5%. That’s comparable to all of the major surveyors. Meanwhile, you accept the daily ratings?

        • Yes it does. I have quite often filled out screeners for surveys and been told that I am not what they are looking for because they already have enough people that meet the demographic I am in. For all we know, 99% of the TVTonight survey participants are 60 year olds and that is not representative of the general population. As I said, it is an interesting survey based on readers of TV Tonight. The story in the Sun Herald had a misleading headline too stating Aussie TV viewer’s biggest gripes revealed when in fact it is a subset of people but the article itself did point out the participants were “tv nuts” and “self selëcted”.

          • Again, it’s never claimed to be representative of the general population. If you look back over 8 years you will see some trends reflected by OzTAM and others it contradicts. Fairfax article indicated they are site readers.

    • Where a network does well they take notice and reference them to industry. Less so when the result is poor. The results are not presented as representative of the nation, but 1000 is the online standard and was enough for Fairfax to run the results today. Overall numbers don’t move too much so the trends are where to look.

  4. Feeview Plus will only ever become important , when its available to the Regional and Metro markets, don’t know why its geo blocked in Regional markets , as the content is the same as the Metro markets, maybe some one can tell my why?

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