Reflecting on Q3 2012 viewing statistics, subscription television (STV) audiences continue to increase, comparing year on year. Average audiences in peak hour viewing, 6pm-12mn, increased 8% in national STV homes, 11% in metro and 7% in regional homes. Average audiences from 2am-2am have also increased, by 3% in metro, 2% in regional and 1% in STV homes.
The rise in audience numbers is supported by the popularity of high rating Australian productions like Location Location Location Australia (The LifeStyle Channel), Tony Robinson’s Time Walks (History Channel), ROVE LA S2 (FOX8), Camp Orange (Nickelodeon), Serial Killer Sunday (Crime & Investigation Network) and Selling Houses Australia(The Lifestyle Channel). The Live AFL Preliminary Final Sydney V Collingwood attracted over half a million people to the new FOX FOOTY channel, which had the highest share of viewing for the last quarter across STV. Kevin’s Grand Design on The Lifestyle Channel was the highest rated non-sport broadcast, and the number one time-shifted program was the premiere of the new series produced by JJ Abrams, Revolution, fast-tracked from the US by FOX8.
Great programming is critical, however there are regulatory factors that continue to affect growth and play a significant role in shaping current and future opportunities for STV. A recent CASBAA report about Over The Top (OTT) services in the Asia Pacific region noted that Australia was subject to a number of regulatory differentials and that “pay-TV platforms will continue to operate at a commercial disadvantage given the continued application of advertising revenue restrictions, content quota rules, captioning requirements, etc” when compared to developing OTT services.
As the broadcasting environment changes, ASTRA continues to lead discussions to level the playing field. Some of the issues we are currently working on include the review of the ASTRA Codes of Practice with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) including new provisions to reflect a set of principles for the control and reduction of live odds promotion in sports broadcasts. Debate in Parliament on the Broadcasting Services Amendment (Anti-Siphoning) Bill 2012 resumed on 12 September and was again adjourned to later in 2012. ASTRA also continues to work with the ACMA on the operational aspects of new STV captioning obligations, and has held informational sessions for members over the previous two weeks to ensure everyone is informed of the new legislation.
Although there have been some recent media articles speculating about reform by Government to media and broadcasting legislation, we await the Government’s response to the Convergence Review Final Report and possible implications for STV.
Importantly, we are currently fielding our annual ASTRA Member Survey which requests your feedback on ASTRA events, issues and activities. We appreciate your time to provide input as it assists us in finalising our approach for the coming year.