Aus Free To Air Networks Scramble To Catch Up With Viewer Habits

7 March 2016 | 4:27 pm | Staff Writer

It's like someone in a boardroom somewhere FINALLY brought up Netflix

Australian free-to-air TV stations are finally making significant strides towards combating the recent local arrival of streaming services such as Netflix and Stan, with digital umbrella organisation Freeview announcing its intent to release a mobile content aggregation app for all live and catch-up programming.

Not only that, but the Seven Network has just signed a content distribution deal with Google in order to bring its programming to YouTube, significantly broadening its potential audience almost instantly.

According to AdNews, Freeview — which has welcomed Seven chief digital officer Clive Dickens as its second chairman — decided to launch the app as a response to shifting consumer habits and tastes, as well as the 'multi-screen future' faced by established and emerging broadcasters in order to stay connected with their audiences.

"This extends the FreeviewPlus on television onto mobile and the experience of viewers is they'll be able to stream live TV content and be able to watch catch-up content," chief executive Liz Ross told AdNews.

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"Strategically, the whole mission of Freeview and why networks invest in it is to maintain the dominance of the platform and to expand it across new devices. We're delivering a service that will be anywhere, anytime and on any device."

"Freeview was ready for this new chapter of innovation and Clive put his hand up [to become chair]," Ross continued. "The board were very supportive of Clive given his background of digital in television and radio. [Digital] is a focus for all of the networks and they are all innovating very quickly."

That innovation and increased flexibility is mirrored in Google's acquisition of Seven's library, with their new partnership set to open up the network's original programming to global, mobile-first audiences, as B&T reports.

"We're thrilled that fans of Seven West Media's great programming around the globe — from Home & Away followers in Ireland to My Kitchen Rules fans in Estonia — will now be able to keep up-to-date with their favourite characters on YouTube," Google Australia's outgoing managing director, Maile Carnegie, told the magazine.

"There's such a big opportunity for Australian producers to engage their viewers online and on mobile, bring in new global audiences, and experiment with new formats, and it's great to see Seven West Media leading the way on this locally."