A Deloitte Access Economics report commissioned by Free TV, Everybody Gets It: the Economic and Social Benefits of Commercial Television in Australia, has revealed the value Australians place on free, universally accessible news, entertainment, sport and drama.
The Deloitte research also quantifies the substantial contribution commercial television makes to the economy, contributing AUD$2.3 billion to the nation’s GDP in 2019, employing more than 16,000 people and investing $1.6 billion annually in producing Australian content.
The Everybody Gets It report found that 89 percent of Australians think commercial television is a valuable service and 76 percent believe it is more important than ever, while 86 percent think it supports Australian culture.
Audience surges of 15-20 percent during the peaks of the COVID-19 and bushfire crises suggest that Australians turn to commercial television in times of uncertainty – and expect it to be there for them. In this context, it is no surprise that news emerged as the primary reason people give for watching commercial television – 75 percent of respondents said they trust commercial television news.
Free TV CEO, Ms Bridget Fair said: “In commissioning this report, Free TV Australia wanted to shine a light on our industry and its many contributions to Australia’s society and culture. We were also keen to ‘take the temperature’ of our audiences to understand the value they place on this free, universal service.
“It turns out that despite increased competition, Australians value commercial television even more than we expected. Access to local entertainment, news and sport is a very big deal for viewers, with 95 percent telling us that losing commercial television would have an impact on society, particularly through the loss of access to news, sport and entertainment.”
The Deloitte Access Economics analysis found of the $2.3 billion economic activity, the industry indirectly contributed $1.3 billion to the wider Australian economy last year, spanning motion picture and sound recording, scientific and technical services, retail and finance. Deloitte also found that the industry facilitated $4.4 billion in additional economic benefit in 2019 from advertising.
Mr John O’Mahony, Deloitte Access Economics Partner and report co-author said: “Commercial television makes a strong economic contribution to Australia and is critical to the Australian screen production industry. The sector also continues to drive innovation through its content and use of new digital technologies to remain competitive, but our consumer research found it is the social and cultural contributions of the industry including trusted news, universal service provision and Australian stories that Australians continue to value most from this important industry.”
Commercial television is a stronghold of shared cultural experience available to 97 per cent of Australians at the click of a button, for free, and 93 percent of Australians believe it should stay that way. Other report findings include:
- Only 14 percent of those who do not watch commercial television think losing it would have no impact on Australian society.
- Overwhelmingly, Australians are choosing to consume Australia content ahead of international programs on commercial television. In 2019, all of the top 10 rated shows were Australian, even after excluding sport.
- Compared to on-demand viewing, broadcast TV viewers are almost 1.8 times more likely to watch with family or friends. Across the entire day, co-viewing sits at just under 42 percent of total television viewing. For the average commercial TV viewer, this reflects approximately 8 hours of family time every week.
- The broad reach of commercial television is particularly important for viewers who cannot afford to, or cannot get access to, alternative viewing. 87 percent highly value the ability to access commercial television without needing data or Internet access.
- In 2019, commercial TV provided more than 100,000 hours of Australian content. 86 percent think it supports Australian culture.