Media & Broadcast 3 min read

New Data Highlight Growing Concerns For The Future Of Free-To-Air Sport

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New findings reveal that a significant 69 percent of Australians now opt to access television content through internet-based platforms.

Recent national polling conducted by Resolve Strategic sheds light on the shifting TV consumption habits in Australia, with a mere 29 percent of the population relying solely on traditional aerial broadcast. Interestingly, 18 percent of aerial users are contemplating a switch to digital services in the near future.

The crux of the issue lies in the potential ramifications of not extending anti-siphoning laws to include digital platforms. Alarmingly, almost half (49%) of individuals leveraging free streaming services like 7plus, 9Now, and 10 Play express concerns about being deprived of sports content.

In response to the findings, 67 percent of Australians voice their support for anti-siphoning laws safeguarding free access to sporting events, with an additional 69 percent advocating for the expansion of these regulations to cover digital mediums.

Bridget Fair, CEO of Free TV, underscores the importance of aligning legislation with the evolving TV landscape, stating, “This research demonstrates the growing trend of Australians turning to internet-based TV platforms, a trend expected to escalate as older households phase out traditional aerial setups.”

Fair warns of the looming repercussions should anti-siphoning laws remain static, emphasising the risk of isolating millions of viewers from national sporting spectacles. She asserts, “It is imperative that new regulations adapt to this paradigm shift, lest a substantial portion of the population be compelled to subscribe to premium streaming services or forgo sports altogether.”

To champion the cause, Free TV unveils plans for a robust “Keep Sport Free” advertising campaign spanning television, print, outdoor, and social media channels. This initiative aims to raise awareness about the impending threat of restricted access to free sports, a scenario that could burden consumers with exorbitant costs to partake in beloved sporting tournaments.

The anti-siphoning bill enacted by the government serves to restrict subscription streaming giants like Amazon, Apple, and Disney from acquiring exclusive terrestrial broadcasting rights to premier sporting events such as the Olympics, AFL, NRL, and cricket. However, these platforms can still clinch exclusive digital rights, potentially ostracising the majority of Australians relying on free-to-air services like 7plus, 9Now, and 10 Play.

According to the Resolve poll commissioned by Free TV Australia, an overwhelming majority of respondents concur that extending these regulations to encompass digital rights is imperative. The survey further reveals that a significant faction of voters express a willingness to support political parties taking action on this front, indicating strong public sentiment towards upholding free access to sports content.

In conclusion, the data underscores the widespread community sentiment advocating for the protection of free sports coverage and underscores the urgent need for regulatory updates to preserve universal access to sporting events for all Australians.

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