blog cover image for What media is your audience watching?

By: Darren Baines / February 1, 2024
Tags: Digital, Media Planning, Social Media

What media is your audience consuming?

When you combine the plethora of pay TV options, streaming services, social media platforms and websites alongside the more traditional free-to-air TV, radio and news outlets, it’s hard to know where to find your audience.

This is particularly true for most businesses that didn’t flourish due to a particular online community or social media channel. Instead, your business growth has been in the “real world”. However, in today’s digital world, that presents a problem. Particularly when it comes to extending your reach through marketing and advertising.

Never before have we had access to so many options when it comes to entertainment, news and information. And as such, never before has it been easier to squander your advertising dollars by hitting the wrong media and audience.

Recently we’ve pulled together data to try and provide clarity in what people are doing, what screens are they watching and what audio is slicing through their airpods.

Our aim is to help you understand what media your audience is consuming now, but also what is likely to unfold throughout the rest of 2024.

Here’s what you need to know…

Top 3 home entertainment activities*

It’s fair to say that at home, each generation has its very own mix of entertainment consumption habits. Only Boomers and Matures favour free-to-air TV above all other media options, while Pay TV (the likes of Netflix, Kayo, Disney+) reign supreme for the younger cohorts.

Browsing the internet is a consistent pastime through all generations, demonstrating the cut-through appeal of the many millions of websites available. Social media only really shows its head for those under 38, but as we will discover later on, this only tells part of the story.

Age Group #1^ #2^ #3^ Percentage of Cairns population #
Gen Z (16-24) Pay + Streaming TV Social Media Browsing the Internet 10.9%
Millennials (25-38) Pay + Streaming TV Browsing the Internet Social Media 18.7%
Gen X (39-55) Pay + Streaming TV Browsing the Internet Free-to-air TV 26.4%
Boomers (56-74) Free-to-air TV Browsing the Internet Pay + Streaming TV 24.5%
Matures (75+) Free-to-air TV Browsing the Internet Pay + Streaming TV 7.2%
* Does not include commuting or leisure
^ Deliotte Media Consumer Survey 2022 – Australian Media and Digital Entertainment Insights
# Cairns 2021 Consensus

For those businesses wondering where to spend their advertising dollars, it can seem like you are playing roulette when defining your media mix. However, if you can segment by demographics, the above table may at least give you some signposts as to where to direct your efforts.

Who is watching free-to-air TV?

According to the latest Regional TAM Report for 2023, free-to-air TV reaches 42.4% of the population daily, that’s 3.4million people in regional locations across Australia. Although the report doesn’t focus on Cairns solely, it does provide a glimpse of the penetration of free-to-air TV in regional cities as a whole.

REGIONAL LINEAR TV 2023 Total People Kids & Teens* Ppl 16-39 Ppl 25-54 Ppl 40+ Grocery Buyer with Child Shopper with Child Men Women
Average Audience 467,000 30,000 39,000 119,000 400,000 32,000 47,000 218,000 248,000
TARP 5.8% 1.7% 1.6% 3.9% 9.7% 3.7% 3.4% 5.4% 6.1%
Average Daily Reach 3,423,000 501,000 491,000 1,077,000 2,456,000 335,000 509,000 1,641,000 1,781,000
Average Daily Reach% 42.4% 28.2% 20.7% 35.7% 59.5% 38.8% 36.9% 40.9% 43.8%
Average time viewed/day 3:17 1:26 1:53 2:39 3:55 2:17 2:13 3:12 3:21
Average Age 59 7 31 44 65 46 47 58 59
Source: Regional TAM | Weeks 1 – 52, 2023 | Total Individuals | TTL FTA (ex Spill) | Consolidated 28 | 0200 2600 S S | Combined Ag gregate Markets | *Kids & Teens 0 17 years

What’s staggering is that nearly 60% of over 40’s are watching free-to-air TV daily. But that proportion continues to trend upwards as people get older. Therefore, if you’re targeting families, Boomers or Matures, free-to-air could be the most cost-effective option.

Age Profile Chart
Source: Regional TAM | Weeks 1-52, 2023 | Total Individuals | TTL FTA (ex Spill) | Consolidated 28 | 0200 2600 S S | Combined Ag gregate Markets | Audience Profile%

TV just got even more complex

The below graph is taken from ‘The 2022 Media Content Consumption Survey, Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development (March 2023)’.

For me, it highlights two important trends:

  1. The growth of free and subscription based TV services.
  2. On-demand TV is not far behind ‘free-to-air’ TV options.

And yes, the number of TV options is growing rapidly too.

TV Consumption Chart
Source: C1. Which of the following did you watch in the past 7 days at home or elsewhere on any device?
Base: TVCS & MCCS, All respondents 2022: n=5017, 2021: n=4135, 2020: n=4096
Notes: Don’t known/refused responses not shown

Commercial free-to-air TV is traditionally where advertisers spend their money, but since 2020 the TV viewing habits of people in Australia has changed rapidly. And will probably continue to change for the foreseeable future.

Netflix’s recent introduction of its ad subscription service at a reduced $6.99 per month may skew people’s viewing habits again.

From an advertiser’s perspective, it’s clear that what was working pre-2020 is no longer going to capture the same audience in 2024. A mix of on-demand, online streaming and free-to-air is now necessary.

FM radio is clinging on

The same survey looked at the listening habits of Australians and found a very different picture. Unlike TV, the traditional FM Radio stations are still ruling the roost. But for how long?

FM Radio Chart

While Spotify has enjoyed huge growth, the ethics around what it is paying artists alongside increased subscription prices, has prevented it from knocking FM stations down.

There is broad appeal for radio stations too. In the family car, you can be sure there’s something for everyone. Whereas streaming services tend to group genres or eras together making it hard to please a varied crowd. And the radio definitely still holds its place in the office or on site.

Did video really kill the radio star?

While multiscreen viewing has led to the world of TV and video becoming increasingly fragmented, radio seems to be holding its own.

In Cairns at least, larger proportions are still listening to traditional FM stations, with some receiving audiences of over 72,000. While Gen Z may not be as actively participating in the revival, generations younger and older seem to keeping the radio star alive.

Cairns Xtra Insights

Why is this important? Well, it helps businesses who want to advertise to a broader audience (mass media) do so with much more confidence. IF, and it’s a big IF, they are targeting by location and generation.

But as we know the marketing world is much more nuanced and targeted nowadays, which is where the digital world makes its mark.

The digital revolution

89% of Australia’s population has access to and uses the internet, averaging 6 hours and 13 minutes online daily. Of those internet users, 21.45 million Aussies use social media and our use is rocketing (source). So much so that 2024 could be the year that Australia’s social media consumption outstrips TV (free and streaming). Currently, Aussies spend 52 hours a month scrolling on socials, in comparison to TV’s 58 hours.

Over the last decade, YouTube, Meta’s Facebook, and more recently, Instagram and Messenger, have cornered the market. However, TikTok continues to gain significant ground. The platform that was once thought to be just for kids is rapidly becoming the go-to destination for millennials too. The fastest-growing demographic on the platform is males between 25 and 34 years of age.

Across social media, advertising in Australia in 2024 is expected to reach US$3.9bn (source). TV and Video is expected to reach US$5.77bn in Australia this year, but bear in mind that US$3.47bn of this is Digital Video Advertising (source). This could mean that this year, we see more advertising dollars spent on social media ads than on traditional TV placements.

More segmentation more options

What the digital world offers us in buckets is the ability to target segments, niches, fringes of society, cliches and communities. Plus with all those cookies in place, we can even break that down further to where an audience is in the buying cycle.

I think the marketing profession must address the obsession with the ‘action’ side of the buying cycle. So much value is given to performance marketing – leads and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) – that we may neglect to nurture brands. For a business to grow, it needs to keep expanding the top of its funnel (raising awareness) to get more customers across the line. But if you don’t place a brand in front of mind, businesses could be at the mercy of whatever ad appears first on the day. Which is another challenge for another blog 😀

Darren Baines

Marketing Specialist & Director

Darren is an experienced marketer, having worked both client and agency side to deliver digital and traditional campaigns.

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