Video on Demand and its favour of foreign productions

“The way we watch favours global cultural diversity over Australian content”

I think that with the statement above, it’s partly true and partly false. I believe this because I feel there is a difference between the way we watch Australian Television and Australian film. The way we watch film favours the global stage, but the way we watch Australian television favours Australian content. With the introduction of different ways to view film, such as video on demand (VOD), viewers are becoming more connected and globalized and are able to watch films from around the world. Whereas with free-to-air TV, as TV Tonight reports, the top 20 highest rating shows are 90% Australian, view here.

While free-to-air television is still the most widely used viewing medium (ACMA 2015), VOD services are proving to be quite popular. As VOD is still only a new viewing medium, its ease and accessibility is becoming a fear as the industry start to consider whether the influx of foreign film and television will dilute Australian content. In a report by Screen Australia (2014, p.12), it shows that people are still using free-to-air broadcasting services to view most of their Australian content. Currently, over 50% of Australian internet users are watching VOD (Screen Australia 2014b). Around 74% of Australians who use VOD are using it for catch-up TV (Screen Australia 2014b), which is quite a large number and it won’t be long until these people start moving towards subscriptions like Netflix, where Australian content seems to be few and far between. The industry needs to start considering VOD platforms as an important distributor and a solution to the problem. In the graph below, you can clearly see that the only thing Australian films are not competing well in is cinema attendance, with them mostly being viewed on television and therefore not earning box office money.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 11.17.38 am
Screen Australia Report (2014a)

Aveyard (2011) argues that “Australian filmmakers do not make productions audiences are interested in watching; that distributors do not market Australian films effectively and therefore fail to maximise their commercial potential; and that Australian exhibitors are reluctant to screen local films, which significantly limits their accessibility and earnings.” Aveyard (2011) agrees that Australian films do not circulate well with its current marketing practices. She explains that the creative use of digital media and other less conventional advertising strategies by independent distributors could find a way to improve the current situation. She continues to say how low marketing budgets “scare off” large distribution companies like Hoyts and Event Cinemas purely because they can’t feature a film that has no certainty of bringing in money.

I think the biggest fear with Australian film is its inability to create large budgets in the box office and as explained in previous posts, has to do with access and the need for a different attitude towards Australian film. If a new plan is put into place and becomes successful and is able to gain viewers, it could possibly mean that the government could put more money into funding marketing and larger distribution companies would jump on board as there would be a guarantee success and worth investing money into.

 

References:

ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) 2015, Supply & demand: Catch-up TV leads Australians’ online video use, Australian Communications and Media Authority, viewed 4th Feb 16, http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/engage-blogs/engage-blogs/Research-snapshots/Supply-and-demand-Catch-up-TV-leads-Australians-use-of-catch-up

Aveyard, K 2011, ‘Australian films at the cinema: rethinking the role of distribution and exhibition ‘, Media international Australia, no. 138, pp. 36-45

Screen Australia 2014a, Online and on demand Trends in Australian online video use, Screen Australia, viewed 4th Feb 16, https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/getmedia/d61a7c4b-3abf-444c-9367-aa8dc8b1b8f6/OnlineOnDemand_2014.pdf

Screen Australian analysis of Nielson data 2014b, Australian audiences are watching online, Screen Australia, viewed 4th Feb 16, http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/news_and_events/bulletins/didyouknow/2015/10Mar2015.aspx

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