Pandemic has made free TV more attractive, but marketers haven’t been able to follow

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 19 November 2020

Australians are increasingly turning towards free TV options during the pandemic, according to a study by Unruly, but marketers have been slow to follow.

The shift in behaviour has been brought on by the uncertain economic climate, rising costs of cable and satellite TV, and the emergence of free, ad-supported streaming services. In the past year, commercial networks have launched new platforms, such as 10 Shake and 9’s Rush, and international streaming players, such as Tubi, have entered the market.

The new study by Tremor International, which recently acquired the video advertising platform Unruly, found that more than half, 51%, of Australians plan to reduce the amount they pay for TV, with 75% preferring to watch TV for free with ads, rather than to watch ad-free platforms.

Around half of Australians, 45%, now have access to free, ad-supported streaming TV services largely due to an acceleration in adoption since the start of the pandemic, with more than a quarter, 27%, having tried new ad-supported devices in the last seven months alone. Of this 78% say they will continue to do so.

Despite this rise, with previous Unruly research showing 55% of Australians are consuming more time watching TV online since the pandemic began, advertisers haven’t kept up with the pace.

“Australian consumers’ pivot to CTV is an opportunity for brands to reach audiences at scale in a highly targeted, personalised way that has, until now, not been possible,” says David Haddad, Unruly AUNZ MD.

“Following our acquisition by Tremor International, Unruly has shifted from an outstream video specialist to become one of the biggest video platforms in the world. From this unique position, Unruly’s strong CTV capabilities can help advertisers seize on the opportunities CTV presents like never before.”

Instead, TV advertising fell 35.6% in May, according to SMI figures, as brands tightened their budgets in response to the pandemic. When brands are spending, they are more often opting to spend on cost-effective channels such as social media.

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