Peak Free TV



It’s really struck me recently that television really has reached a massive turning point. (I know - I’m a bit slow). Whilst we’ve had a few streaming services in Australia now for a few years, I only ever really initially saw them as competition for Foxtel - existing PayTV viewing. But after we became a Netflix house around 6 months ago, combined with Plex for the existing terrabytes of footage, it is now an incredibly rare event for the television to find its way back to “Freeview”.

Netflix, if I recall, suggests a minimum internet service of 5mbps. The NBN claims it will provide the majority of Australians with at least 25mbps (not the 100mpbs proclaimed by Turnbull, but that’s another thread). That’s plenty for streaming tv…

Eventually, presumably, there will reach a point when the free tv networks simply can’t continue in their current format, as their main audience will be people who cannot afford the internet, do not have the required speeds, or people like my parents who are too set in their ways to consider this new alternative.

I was trying to imagine what this may ultimately then mean for free to air networks. I could picture them becoming over-run with infomercials as a way to gain revenue. Becoming incredibly tailored to specific markets, perhaps even more accurately, to specific fetishes / ideologies…

One aspect I have not yet investigated, is firstly whether we even still have required Australian content laws / children’s tv laws (post Free Trade Agreement) - but if so - do they apply to services like Netflix/etc. I thought it a little odd for instance that “Round the Twist”, and Aussie kids show from the 90’s, was on Netflix - unless it was some attempt to appease legislation?

Certainly, once the older generation/s have moved on, I don’t see free tv existing the way we’ve known it for the past 60+ years. We’ve reached, if not passed, the peak.




I hear you.

We use to record lots of Free to Air TV, now it’s hardly any. My wife was the biggest consumer of that, but now she is watching other stuff and not so much shows that would be considered local content. Other items can be watched in other ways anyways.

I think the market share of say people watching those broadcasts now must be very tiny… can’t imagine as an advertiser paying for commercials now would be great value. Only during those high demand shows.


Currently, between 6am to midnight, the free to air networks need to provide 55% Aussie content on their primary channel, and x hours on their secondary channel/s.

There are no rules for the streaming services, however the government are considering implementing some kind of regulation on these services to help ensure that they too provide Australian content.

Perhaps this is why there are a few odd-ball Aussie shows on the streaming services - old shows they could buy on the cheap… That said - Netflix appears to be at least attempting to be proactive in this area, with some shows made locally already (or - in pre-production?), and apparently seeking access to government assistance to produce shows via funding currently on offer to the free-to-air networks.

Certainly if we are heading away from FTA tv, I feel we need to ensure that the streaming services that replace the old model should abide by similar rules, and ensuring Australians are able to see Australians on their televisions / phones / iPads should be one of those rules.


Well… it’s plenty for FullHD streaming across an average family household.

It’s really only (just) enough for a single QuadHD/4K stream and during peak time a typical 25/5 connection can drop below what’s required to maintain that definition, and that’s assuming only 1 user.

Tesltra have moved to unlimited across most of their plans and they’re starting to move to offering 50Mbit as a standard inclusion rather than charging extra (although, not me I’d still have to pay for it doh) and 50Mbit would allow for a QuadHD stream on the main TV and still leave enough bandwidth for other users to get a ‘normal’ internet experience.


I haven’t watched FTA TV for many years now. I live off iTunes, Netflix and Foxtel Play (when I have the time).


It’s got nothing to do with legislation. There’s a heap of ABC content on there because Netflix licensed it.

At the moment none of the streaming services have any responsibility to produce Australian content. I believe there’s some industry push to start changing this as major Australian drama production is dropping, as are viewer numbers. We’re all watching big budget US/UK/European series on the streaming services, while Australian content is underfunded and limited to network TV.


It was the FTA networks’ behaviour that pushed me streaming about 5 years ago now, and they haven’t changed.

  • Too many ad breaks
  • Ads much louder than the show
  • New series episodes mixed in with repeats so you don’t know what’s what
  • Canceling a show mid-series or moving it to night owl hours
  • Advertising a start time but starting the show 10 to 15 minutes later

Then we have our prime time slots filled to the brim with shows like My Kitchen Rules or The Block which go for something like 2 hours for 5 nights a week, which is too much of the same stuff for this kid to be bothered with.

The saving grace of Australian TV for me personally is the ABC. They’ve made many quality Australian dramas that have all seen the axe. I loved Time of Our Lives and Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries. I still watch ABC on iView and I wish more of our tax dollars went there.

But how can our FTA networks compete when they can’t secure any of the major series of this golden age of television? SBS seems to be evolving ok - Viceland and Food Network are good ideas.

I’m starting to ramble so I’ll stop. I want more Aussie shows and quality ones, not cheap reality or silly “I’m having another man’s baby” ones. But I want them on my terms, i.e. on demand. And I will pay to watch them, especially ABC and Foxtel produced shows.


Before moving from Sydney to Melbourne in 2014 we were on a 3-4MBit ADSL service (on a good day), streaming was never really a consideration, my oldest child was also about 9 and only just really getting into online anything. Even then we didn’t watch a lot of FTA TV, mostly news and specials, and mostly recorded and played back later when you could fast forward through the ads. Most TV shows were downloaded from various different sources for local playback.

Moving house saw us in a cable area with 100MBit download goodness (and unlimited quota). All of a sudden our downloads doubled, then doubled again thanks to Netflix, Hulu and Youtube (what is it with the kids today and youtube?!).

Our viewing habits have been migrating from a download and watch later approach to a stream on demand model. These days our FTA PVR is sitting next to the media centre gathering dust. It hasn’t even been plugged in nearly two years.

It’s entertaining for me when we visit the in-laws who still live in a FTA world to see ads! This mostly serves as a reminder why I haven’t plugged that PVR back in yet. I used to have an Elgato Netstream DTT network TV tuner which sat quietly waiting for that rare occassion that I wanted to watch something on TV (like when a fmaily member is on some show) although I believe it let out it’s magic smoke, but just can’t see the value in dropping any cash on a replacement.


Ever since getting an AppleTV around 2015, we’ve been slowly moving away from FTA and Foxtel. When we bought our current place we dropped Fox completely.

I’d say a good 90% of our viewing comes from either iTunes, Netflix and Stan and other on demand services.

We do watch the SBS news and the very occasional food network program but that’s it for FTA. Put simply, I wouldn’t miss it if it wasn’t there.

We’ve currently got a free trial of foxtelGo with our phone plans but it just renews my intense hate of paying for ads. After it’s wound up, it’s not getting renewed.


I’m with you on having to pay for ads, but for me I’m getting good value out of my $10 a month. But I love the lifestyle channel. If you’re not into shows that only Foxtel produces or airs your buck is definitely better spent elsewhere like Hulu


I’ve got a HD Homerun Connect which I haven’t plugged in again for over a year. I wanted to try it with Plex but didnt really like the approach. Call me old fashion but i much prefer guide data to be presented in the usual format. Mythweb is great at doing this for Mythtv so to speak. Plex cover icons for FTA shows just hated it.


Only ABC News (which I also often stream later) and live sport, and thats it for FTA. Netflix is fab!

Occasionally I’ll record a movie or doco so i can fast forward through the bloody Harvey Norman adds reapeated adnausem.

And there’s the rub.

As soon as advertisers realise few of their paid TV advertisements are actually ever watched now, they will abandon FTA TV and it will collapse overnight.

Live sport aside, I’m amazed they still to pay to advertise during, say, a 2-hour movie that goes for 3 hours due to an hour of advertising. NO ONE watches them live anymore.

Once advertisers realise, FTA will go the way of Channel 10, and it will ‘Good night, good luck’ for FTA.


Reality TV. Lots of people apparently want to watch that drivel, Live too.

I’m still amazed at how little technology people have (or understand). The average punter probably doesn’t have a PVR unless it’s the Foxtel/Fetch box and seem to watch Netflix only on their iPad/iPhone or often laptop.


Yeah maybe I’m old and out of touch, but looking at the the falling FTS viewer numbers and share prices, I suspect not. I noted the last couple of new reality tv offering failed in the ratings.

FTA and Foxtel fight over live sport, as that’s about the only thing they have that atttacts lots of eye balls now. That’s why the rights are worth so much.

The old FTA business model is dead. Interesting to see what CBS does with 10 Network.


Indeed - presumably CBS saw something in it, but god knows what… They must have a plan - I mean, why invest in a dying art form from a foreign country…


AppleTV, Plex, Netflix.

FTA is slowly dying, even Aus Open has an app now!