In 2019, Wide Eyes wrote that “SVOD will be the new norm in viewing content either at home or outside the home and will lead to everyone having their own personalised suite of movies, TV shows and games able to be viewed on demand whenever wherever.”
And this is pretty much what has happened, except that it now seems there may be too many SVOD channels on offer and with a tightening economy combined with rising interest rates and prices spiralling upwards, a shakeout of the SVOD business may well be on the cards.
It’s staggering how many SVOD choices there now are in Australia — Netflix, Stan, Disney+, Binge, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV Plus, Acorn, Britbox, Foxtel Now (ex-Presto) and Paramount Plus — with each and every one of them hell bent on having their own exclusive programs and not sharing content with any other channels or platforms.
One of the most common complaints now heard at work in answer to the question “Did you see such and such a program last night” is” Oh, I don’t get that show because it’s on … (name any one of the SVODs you don’t get).”
In a recent survey more than half of TV viewers in Australia say they find it hard to know what shows are on which SVOD services and 44 per cent say they often have a hard time finding something they want to watch at all.
So now that we miss so many of the most talked about “must see” programs because they are not on the SVOD services that we do subscribe to and we often can’t find anything we actually want to watch, it kind of starts making sense not to subscribe to any service at all, especially as the free to airs are now offering extensive channels of content for free on their ad supported secondary channels, their ad supported catch up services and their free ad supported subscription (FAST) TV channels.
And this is what is already happening in the United States and in the UK, where the SVODs numbers have stalled or are in decline and the free to airs are having a renaissance across their combined suites of free channels.
It seems that everything old is new again, just with a lot more channels and a lot more ads, and did I say a lot more ads like the promoting of the Australian rugby league over and over and over again and promoting it in the middle of summer.
Really? Not again. Please not again!
Maybe I will keep my SVOD services for just a little bit longer rather than watching all these confounded ads.
So we are at a tipping point — will the SVODs give away the golden goose by not aggregating their channels and continuing to go it alone in an ever fragmenting market or can the free-to-airs take their chance at regaining the goose by offering quality free to air programming on multiple channels without overdosing on the number of ads they are able to broadcast.
My guess is that the free-to-airs will not be able to help themselves and will continue to gorge on the big fat advertising goose while the SVODs will get smart, learn the lessons coming out of the US and the UK, and work together by offering an aggregated service or services to become a genuine Pay TV competitor to Foxtel.
This article originally appeared in The Bugg Report Magazine Edition 43