News Commentary

Feb 20, 2012

If you build it, they will come

The SMH today highlighted some findings released by Ericsson from th

The SMH today highlighted some findings released by Ericsson from their TV & Video 2011 Consumer Trends report (released in Sept 2011) regarding ABC’s iView catch-up service.

The report found that, of the more than 1000 Australians surveyed, 32 per cent of those who watched streamed or downloaded content did so via iView. Illegal file-sharing was slightly more popular with 33 per cent of downloaders admitting to its use. 22 percent of downloaders cited downloading pay-per-episode service iTunes.

It would also be interesting to find out more in terms of volume of content consumed as I assume that those downloading illegal fare are consuming more per person than those consuming iView content. I’d also be interested in the data regarding just how many people illegally download content that has previously been made available on iView and why they’re opting for p2p over the legal platform.

Now, it would be simplistic to say that if you put a show up on iView people will not download that program illegally. People download for all sorts of reasons (convenience, quality of file, availability, and pre-established habits are among many reasons). But, there is an obvious demand for streamed content like this, a demand that is building.

In Australia we’ve seen very little in the way of large-scale streaming video platforms so far. iView is by far the most significant, but there is also the subscription-based Quickflix service. While the market place is a lot more competitive in the US, it is interesting to see what is taking place in the UK with the recent explosion in online streaming services there and the way that traditional platforms are adapting to the new marketplace.

Facing competition from the recently-launched Netflix, the Amazon-owned LoveFilm, and the soon-to-launch FTA service (backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, BT, Talk Talk and Arqiva) YouView, BSkyB are launching a new service to cater toward this emerging market. Subscribers will be able to pay as they go or sign a monthly subscription without contracts to access the service delivered via connected TV devices, smartphones, and PC’s. The service, which is yet to be named, has been announced following recent reports of a slowdown in the number of people signing up to their television services (40,000 over the last quarter, down from 140,000 the year prior).

At the ASTRA conference in 2011, former Foxtel chief Kim Williams signalled changes that point to an evolution of the Foxtel offering. One would expect to see a model not far removed from the proposed new Sky service in the UK. It’s almost a certainty that competition will become just as fierce in Australia as it has become in the UK. Will local providers be able to make a dent in the high volume of downloading? Based on the high takeup of iView, it looks promising.


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3 thoughts on “If you build it, they will come

  1. Bellistner

    It’s almost like they are making it deliberately harder than necessary.

    If the sites are aggregated, they don’t control the advertising.

    No streaming site is going to make inroads into illegal filesharing if they continue the same business model as FTA ie delayed broadcast. And example is NASCAR: ONE has the FTA rights to broadcast it, but regularly delays the broadcast for two or three days (and sometimes four) after the race has been run and won. In that space of time, there are half a dozen different versions released on file-sharing sites allowing the user to choose their preferred filesize, per-pixel quality, resolution, and format. The same goes for virtually everything shown on TV, be it sport, comedy, movies. The same goes for new sitcoms and movies: why delay the airing for weeks or months?

    To be sure, some level of scheduling is required, but why would you deliberately delay live [insert event here] in order to show a sitcom from the 70’s or 80’s? In fact, with the exception of events you feel you have to show in HD, you can juggle channels to show live events actually live.

  2. shepherdmarilyn

    But why is it illegal to download episodes of free to air TV which is what most people do.

  3. NeoTheFatCat

    Another thing the UK has achieved is a couple of sites which aggregate this sort of catch-up service across all free-to-air channels. There is also at least one site that live streams the free-to-air over the net. In both cases, the content works well on an iPad.

    My experience in Australia so far is that each channel has it’s own streaming offerring, with different approaches to content, quality and platforms. If I can turn on one TV to receive broadcasts from multiple providers, why can’t I go to one site and get the same content? It’s almost like they are making it deliberately harder than necessary.

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