This Graph Explains Why Free-To-Air TV's Days Are Numbered

CES 2016: In 2008, the total number of streaming hours worldwide was estimated at 0.1 billion. Today, it's 42.5 billion. That's an astronomical increase in just seven years — and its only going to keep growing. In another seven years, most free-to-air networks will be as good as dead.

Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings showed off the impressive numbers at CES 2016. As you can see in the below slide, the growth of video streaming over the past decade has been astonishing.

Of course, a lot of this has to do with advancements in internet speeds and newly emerging markets. Be that as it may, there can be little doubt that this is the way most consumers prefer to get their entertainment. If you look at the VCR and PVR, it has arguably always been this way.

As Hastings explained: "what consumers have [always] wanted is to choose when to watch... On demand television. With the internet we can finally give people this and put consumers in the driver's seat when it comes to when and where they want to watch."

Personally, I think there's still a place for scheduled programming — those "watercooler" moments have less impact when everyone is watching at different times. The "Red Wedding" from Game Of Thrones wouldn't have had nearly as much impact if all the episodes had been released at the same time. Nevertheless, it seems that most people vastly prefer choice and binge watching to passive, serialised viewing. Let us know what you think in the comments.


Comments

    The point I'd make about Free to Air television is that it's essential for people who can't afford a streaming service/computer/internet connection. Streaming services are still a (sure, cheapish but still) luxury.

    There's a dude in my apartment block who's in that boat. Without Free to Air television, he's got nothing.

    42.5 billion hours per day? Hang on... what's the world's population? 8 billion or so? That's 5 hours a day every day for every man, woman and child on the planet. That sounds a bit inflated to me. Either that or binge watching is really getting out of hand.

      I used to live with a family who's TV would talk to itself all day long, even when they went out to buy groceries, goto a theme park, or be asleep in their rooms.

    That's a valid argument re: Red Wedding that's been made for Dare Devil as well, Jessica Jones too. Most shows that are dumped in one day and bingewatched become 'flash memories', where you know you liked them, but individual episodes don't stand out as much as they do as 'one large blob'. By pacing the shows you can process them far better, over a period of time. GOT for the most part for example, I can remember most of the last seasons episodes (most, not all), but Daredevil.... maybe 3 or 4 seperate ones at best but even then, I'm probably at a loss (I LOVED DD by the way).

      It would be nice to have a combination of the 2 i.e. have new TV shows on each week and then ability to stream them immediately after that. Free-to-air and Foxtel keep promising that but it just never quite works.. either there are missing episodes, or they only keep the last 2 episodes, or it isn't kept in HD, or various other limitations.

      I see it like this: Netflix is like sitting down and reading all of "A Dance with Dragons" in one session (maybe two), and free to air style piecemeal servings are like reading a chapter or two every week. Which option is better will really depend on the person watching/reading.

      For the most part, the former will absorb less of the book, but they will get a feel for the book from a holistic viewpoint that a chapter reader won't, because the first chapter won't still be fresh in their mind when they read the final chapter.

      The latter is more likely to pick up on subtle clues in the writing due to their more focused attention on the individual chapters of the book at the expense of possibly having the major plot points spoiled for them.

      In the end, it's the readers choice about which they want to do, and Netflix offers that same choice. Free to Air/Foxtel doesn't offer a choice.

      I wonder, do we deserve to make that choice, or are we so gluttonous for new content that we can't choose to watch the next episode tomorrow, instead of staying up an hour later?

    For me it's simple...
    I don't want to spend money on something that I'd rarely or never use. As long as FTA and Foxtel have the exclusivity deals for the shows I'm interested in within Australia, there's no point for someone like me investing in a streaming service.

    Kodi is free.

    Two things come to mind here:-

    1 Even with the NBN™, there's a finite limit to the amount of broadband that's available.
    More streaming by everyone = falling quality for everyone.

    2 Please don't get rid of the ABC. I need my news free of commercials and (mostly) agendas.

    Last edited 07/01/16 11:12 pm

      1 Even with the NBN™, there's a finite limit to the amount of broadband that's available.
      More streaming by everyone = falling quality for everyone.

      I assume you mean bandwidth. Bandwidth increases as demand does. Unless someone is hooked up to HFC or mobile wireless, the chance that enough people will be connected locally to cause an issue are slim to none. If ISP bandwidth becomes an issue, the increased demand should provide an incentive for the ISP to upgrade, or risk losing customers to other, better services. In other words, there is no magical number of people that will degrade everyone's internet in the long term, there are only short term issues with supply and demand.

      2 Please don't get rid of the ABC. I need my news free of commercials and (mostly) agendas. The ABC is the Australian station best adapting to the online environment. They are a powerhouse, and will likely benefit from any move. I have great expectations for the ABC in the digital age.

        Yes - I meant bandwidth. One shouldn't type while your brain is telling you it's bedtime. :-)

        What I was getting at was probably also the contention ratio that no ISP will reveal. I'm currently on Optus cable; there are no plans to upgrade by the NBN™ that I can find; I cannot get 1080p quality at peak times and even 720p stutters from time to time.

        If ISP bandwidth becomes an issue, the increased demand should provide an incentive for the ISP to upgrade, or risk losing customers to other, better services.

        It certainly hasn't worried them to date. :-(

    The timing problem is overcome by using a PVR personal Video Recorder to record whatever shows I choose - so that I can watch when it suits me.
    The choice problem remains - Free To Air is now offering less choice every year, with lots of repeats.

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