How do you watch your TV? That’s a hard question to answer nowadays.
You’ve got a multitude of options. The first thing that might come to mind is “what do you mean by that question?” TV could mean many things. How do you watch the physical TV you own? You use free to air. Another person might subscribe to Foxtel; another to Apple TV. Another thing that comes to mind might be how you watch TV shows; do you download them and watch them on your TV? Do you stream it online on Netflix/Amazon/Stan/Presto? Do you have your Foxtel enabled to play on multiple devices, so you can watch the football on the bus? There’s a rapidly spreading entertainment market there to be seized. So far, it appears as if streaming giant Netflix is winning the race.
While you could be reading this in a newspaper, in an opinion piece, that just seems obsolete, and inconvenient, that’s because it is. This is the same perception that traditional pay-tv faces when matched up against streaming behemoths such as Netflix, Stan Presto, Amazon video, or whatever else is gearing to start up over the next half-decade or so. The difference, as A.E.S. (2013) explains, between newspapers and pay-tv is that providers are not making the same mistake the media did when the newspaper started becoming irrelevant – the mistake of providing the exact same content online, for free, while expecting users to pay for the physical version – the “physical” in this case being pay-tv, and many providers are refusing to give Netflix broadcast rights to their new content in favour of airing it on pay-tv – meaning a battle between streaming and TV broadcasting.
This is one of the main arguments against Netflix; the majority of shows listed are on their second run, and that it abandons the idea of a steady-stream (no pun intended) of brand-new content on TV in favour of binge watching the shows online. You still can’t watch live sports, and entertain yourself with brand new shows every week, and in essence, Netflix just feels like on online Blockbuster Video – everything is there, but none of it is new and you end up watching the same things over and over, despite the massive range. Granted, Netflix is rapidly squashing this notion – House of Cards, available exclusively on Netflix, was nominated for an Emmy; an American television award could’ve won without ever airing on TV. They are beginning to convince more companies to release Netflix original series– F is for Family, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Narcos, Making a Murderer, and an upcoming series starring Ashton Kutcher – The Ranch, airs April 1. They are building a steady, star-driven portfolio and many of these series have been critically acclaimed – further accelerating the Netflix rise to entertainment dominance.
Greg Paynter of Charles Sturt University conducted an “exploratory study into Australian consumers’ current television viewing practices, and their understanding, interest and concerns in regards to OTT distribution”. OTT refers to the “over-the-top” flooding of film and television across the Internet and across different mediums. Furthermore, the cost of these online streaming services are laughably cheaper than a service such as Foxtel can reach prices of up to $70/month, where Netflix has 3 different packages, the most expensive of which is $15/month, and on top of that, they offer a 30 day free trial period, and then on top of THAT – there is no installation fee or actual installation, just sign up and watch. The convenience is undeniable.
My research project will aim to find out what the future of traditional pay-tv is in Australia – currently we have the basic free-to-air channels, but services such as Foxtel, which combine hundreds of channels broadcasting shows that are now enabled on streaming services, are even rolling out one of their own; “Presto”. In addition, an on-the-go option to stream a channel broadcasted on Foxtel to a portable device. Yes, the idea of only watching TV shows on the TV is long gone. But can streaming services and pay-tv providers co-exist? Foxtel seems to think it can top both fields, and I aim to find out what the overall perception of this struggle is to Australians, as well as the major broadcasting corporations.
One of the more ambitious aspects of my project, and one that hopefully can be arranged, is an interview with someone of relevance at a major television network, I am still trying to garner contacts, and am currently following a trail that could lead me to interview the head of program scheduling at Fox Sports HQ in Sydney. If an interview like this were to take place, I would interview the subject primarily on what they feel about this OTT distribution boom, and how they feel that sports broadcasting (especially live sport) can include itself in the online streaming world, not only through their own established networks, which already exist, but initiate some lucrative partnerships that entail something other than “exclusive broadcasting rights”. In addition to this I will be conducting video interviews with various subjects across Sydney and Wollongong, in the style of a vox pop, as well as conducting various extended interviews that I will use for the information and presentation of results, and I hopefully will have the previously mentioned interview lined up.
In the end, I hope to have figured out what people preferences are, and investigate whether they believe that pay-tv is dead, and whether Netflix is here to stay. I hope to gather more consistent numbers in data, as I’ve found wildly different statistics, and further on in the project, will become an integral part of the end project, but in the meantime – a new movie called “Dope” just released on Netflix.
Levine-Weinberg, A 2015 ‘How Netflix Really Creates Value’, The Motley Fool.
Paynter, G 2013, “Any screen, anywhere, any time”, TJA, vol.63, no.1.
A.E.S. 2013, “Is Netflix Killing Cable Television?, The Economist.