OPINION

Tech Talk | Steady stream of subscription dodgers leave free TV behind

SHARED STREAMING: Sharing accounts outside of the household seems common for many. Picture: Shutterstock.
SHARED STREAMING: Sharing accounts outside of the household seems common for many. Picture: Shutterstock.

Very early in my business career, I had a customer who I considered to be a great client. He was buying products and using our services and paying his bills. I got on famously with him.

He started to be a little tardy paying bills but I wasn't that concerned - we were now friends, after all, so he would definitely pay me!

The credit ended up being extended but requests for payment were met with promise after empty promise. I had no choice but to put him on to a debt collector.

The debt collector rang me and told me that the client said that he thought I was a 'good bloke' but now that I was demanding he pay me the money he owed, he didn't like me at all!

It may be the same with streaming services in this country. Streaming services continue to grow - largely at the expense of free to air (FTA) services.

Eighty per cent of Australians are now using a streaming service which is up from 25 per cent in 2016. By comparison, 82 per cent of Australians are using FTA content which is down from 90 per cent in 2016.

There is a minor catch though. Half of the Aussies watching streaming services are not paying for it!

Somewhat like my 'friend' who loved my service until he had to start paying for it, I wonder if streaming services in this nation would be as popular if everyone that was using them had to pay for them.

Half of the Aussies watching streaming services are not actually paying for them!

Gen Z (aged 6 to 24 years of age) would be impacted the most. Seventy-five per cent of those users admit to using an account that is in another name.

I can take an educated guess and say the account was in the name of their mum or dad. Surprisingly, Gen X (41 to 56 years of age) were the next biggest culprit at 51 per cent. Gen Y (25 to 40) were next at a 38 per cent freeloading rate with baby boomers (57 to 75) at a lowly 20 per cent.

There is no doubt that Netflix is head of the river (do you like that subtle pun?) with 69 per cent of us using the service. Stan is in a distant second at 36 per cent.

Disney+ is well behind with 18 per cent, which is just ahead of Amazon Prime at 17 per cent. Foxtel Now, Kayo and Binge are all in single digit figures.

Apart from the freeloaders, the concept of streaming services is that it is relatively inexpensive - until you start to add multiple subscriptions with 10 per cent of Aussies using more than three services.

If you subscribed to all of the available services available here it would set you back over $200 per month! No wonder people are sharing accounts.

The subscription services don't seem that concerned about the generosity of users though. As an example, the Netflix Basic plan is $10.99 per month, but that only gives you standard definition (SD) and allows one simultaneous screen. If two people in different households wanted to watch content, only one would work at a time.

If you want better quality content though, upgrading to standard or premium goes to $15.99 or $19.99 per month for HD or 4K ... but also gives you two or four simultaneous screens respectively.

Say hello to sharing an account! Even though the terms of service say that the service "may not be shared with individuals beyond your household" it is not strictly enforced.

Tell me if you are a provider or a moocher at ask@techtalk.digital.

  • Mathew Dickerson is a technologist and futurist and the founder of several technology start-ups.