Foxtel and the other established pay-TV operators face years of minimal growth in subscribers and revenues, due primarily to competition from online services.

That’s according to the IBISWorld Pay Television in Australia report, which estimates the 13 subscription-TV businesses will collectively post sales of $5.1 billion, a gain of just 1%, and profits of $518.4 million in 2014-2015.

The market researcher predicts the industry’s revenue will grow at an average annual rate of just 0.3% to reach $5.2 billion in 2018. The report excludes online subscription TV services.

The findings are broadly similar to PwC’s Australian Entertainment & Media Outlook 2014-2018, which forecast little growth in subscribers to Foxtel’s premium channels but a massive upswing in demand for internet-protocol delivered services (IPTV).

The study shows the declining value of movies to pay-TV platforms, estimating that category accounts for just 9% of total viewing, the same share as news, music and live events.

Children’s programming is reckoned to comprise 13% of total viewing, with 12% for documentaries and 16% for sports. The balance- 41%- is spent watching lifestyle shows, TV dramas, comedies, game shows and other light entertainment fare.

In terms of ages the largest market is subscribers aged 45-54, followed by the 35-44 group, while the smallest demographic is 15-24.

“The rising number of internet connections has limited industry growth, as more viewers have shifted to watching programs online,” it says. “As a result, the total minutes of TV watched by consumers has fallen, and viewers have been using online streaming and downloading websites to watch popular films and TV shows.”

IBISWorld expects Foxtel, which reported revenues of $3.1 billion in 2013-2014, to increase its dominance over the next five years.

“Long-term industry performance is expected to be threatened by the rising prevalence and accessibility of online platforms,” it concludes. 

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  1. When subscription television (AKA Pay TV) began in Australia movies and sport, in that order, were seen as the two key “drivers” of subscriber uptake. Movies have increasingly lost their pulling power and sport has never proved quite the catalyst that the American “cable guys” who came out here in droves to advise us predicted they would. The anti-syphoning provisions of the Broadcasting Services Act cruelled that one. These days it is interesting to see that the FTA’s are now buying rights to what here are seen as second tier international sports that were once the sole province of Fox Sports (e.g. Seven’s recently announced deal for the NFL and Super Bowl).

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