ACMA reports on Australians’ online video use

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Thursday, 19 February 2015 11:32am

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a report which looks at the different ways that Australians are viewing TV programs, with the catch-up TV services being particularly popular. This highlights the need for captioning on these services.

Man sitting back on couch with hands interlocked behind his head, watching TV. Image credit:  D.Reichardt, Flickr

The report, ‘Supply & demand: Catch-up TV leads the way’, finds that a television set is still the main device that Australians use to watch video content, but younger people in particular are increasingly turning to the internet. In the third quarter of 2014, Australians spent an average of 97 hours per month watching television (compared to 7.5 hours watching video content on PCs or laptops, and 2 hours each on mobile phones and tablets). However, the average monthly TV viewing among people aged 18 to 24 was less than half that at 44 hours. ACMA research showed that over eight million Australians had watched online video in the six months to June 2014.

The most popular video-on-demand (VOD) services are the catch-up TV services. The ABC’s iview was by far the most popular of these, accounting for 71% of visits by catch-up TV users. Captions are available on iview, as well as SBS On Demand and Plus7, but not on TENplay or 9jumpin. Unlike the US, Australia has no legislation requiring any online content to be captioned.

With the VOD market growing rapidly, the lack of captions on most of the services is increasingly a concern for Deaf and hearing impaired viewers. Earlier this month, the subscription service Stan launched, without captions being available. Next month, the US-based VOD giant Netflix will launch here, but there has been no confirmation yet that it will have captions.

In 2013, Media Access Australia released a report, ‘Captioning on Video on Demand Services: It’s Time for Australia to Catch Up’, which looked at the situation here and internationally. We will soon be releasing an updated version of this report.

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