Home entertainment subscription services have boomed in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research from emerging technology analyst firm Telsyte.
As of end-June 2020, Australians had 5.6 million more subscriptions than they did a year ago, representing an increase of 18%. In total, the number of subscriptions hit 37 million, and Telsyte expects this to reach 58 million by 2024.
The bulk of this growth was in streaming video-on-demand (SVOD), with 16 million; streaming music (12 million); and video games-related subscription services (5.8 million).
Telsyte research revealed that Netflix (5.4 million) and Stan (2.1 million) remain the top two SVOD service providers, followed by Amazon Prime Video (1.7 million) and Disney+ (1.1 million).
Nearly half of households that are subscribed to an SVOD service have more than one service.
Free-to-air SVOD services – such as 9Now and ABC iView – have also witnessed growing viewership during COVID-19 lockdowns. Almost half of Telsyte’s interview respondents said they are spending more time on broadcasting VOD services.
With Australians still unable to attend many live events, Telsyte expects sports SVOD to be a strong growth area.
“Despite a hiccup during the shutdown period, sports video subscriptions are set to continue to grow strongly as fans turn to apps instead of attending stadiums,” said Foad Fadaghi, Managing Director of Telsyte.
Telsyte estimates that the sports SVOD category grew by 11% year-on-year to 4.9 million subscriptions by end-June, with Telstra Sports Live Passes, Optus Sport and Kayo Sports making up 95% of total subscriptions.
While SVOD is on the upward, pay TV declined by 6% over the 12 months to June 2020. “Foxtel’s Pay TV was the main source of the market decline due to increasing adoption of SVOD, which itself is now pivoting strongly towards, with Foxtel Now, Kayo Sport, and BINGE,” Telsyte stated.
Fetch TV, however, was able to record growth.
In terms of music, there were 12.2 million music subscriptions as of H1 2020, with half of this number being paid subscriptions. More than a quarter of Australians listened to podcasts between January and June 2020.
Gaming is another key area of growth in entertainment subscriptions. Some 5.8 million Australians had games related subscriptions by end-June, including console subscriptions (such as PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold), video game subscriptions (EA Access, Xbox Game Pass and Apple Arcade), and Massively Multiplayer Online Game Subscriptions.
The biggest growth was in video game service subscriptions which more than doubled over 12 months to reach 2 million. Telsyte forecasts this market is set to explode as several companies vie to be the ‘Netflix’ of games.
“Streaming gaming could be a game changer for the industry as it opens high-end gaming to almost any device,” Fadaghi said.
The release of the next-gen PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are also expected to boost the gaming subscriptions market. Telsyte estimates the total number of games-related subscriptions could hit 17 million by 2024.