Screen Aus research reveals audience motivations when viewing content

14 June, 2012 by IF

Press release from Screen Australia

New research released by Screen Australia at an industry forum in Sydney today reveals that 57 per cent of online viewers now watch more feature films, television drama and documentaries than ever before.


“It is encouraging to learn that long-form narrative is not a lost art in the online space and that online viewing is not limited to the world’s funniest bloopers,” said Screen Australia’s Chief Executive Ruth Harley. “In fact, 8.5 million Australians over 14 years old have watched films, drama and documentary online in the last year, with over a third highly engaged on a monthly basis.”

What to Watch? Audience motivation in a multi-screen world is the first comprehensive report undertaken on Australians’ motivations for watching feature films, television drama and documentaries. The report shows that while online viewers are rapidly growing as a proportion of the audience, most still use the web as a complementary content source not as a replacement for traditional platforms, providing a new lease of life to television and cinema.

Alongside this sharp and sustained growth, online viewers are displaying more discerning behaviour when choosing what to watch. Seven in 10 online viewers say they typically search for a specific title, rather than browse. For online viewers the variety of content is almost unlimited. With such a wide selection available, browsing becomes more difficult and in this environment content awareness has never been more important.

“This report demonstrates that our audience is motivated by many things and these motivations can vary dramatically in choosing different content types across different platforms,” said Dr Harley.

“Often a viewer’s first consideration is not the content. It might be socialising at the cinema or unwinding in front of the television after putting the kids to bed. These schedule-based platforms provide highly targeted and curated programming to an audience largely ‘leaning back’. But when it comes to on-demand viewing, which is a ‘lean in’ medium, it is a far more active choice,” Dr Harley said.

Social media has revolutionised the speed and scale of word of mouth. While the platforms will continue to work together in building awareness for selected content, connections across sites such as Facebook and Twitter are circumventing traditional marketing campaigns and release territories. In the case of online viewers, almost a third are often reading social media posts before choosing what to watch and around half are posting back once they have viewed.

“In considering the growing online competition and the strategic opportunities that come from social media, we’ve identified one group of people who are deeply connected to both screen culture and social media,” said Dr Harley. “These people are perfect targets to reach and ultimately drive awareness for local screen stories.

“We’ve called them Connectors. They’re generally affluent, modern, young people who stay in touch with the latest technology and rely on social media to organise their lives. They find the time and the cash to watch all kinds of content, on all platforms. They’re out there, leaning in. They make, not wait, for recommendations.”

Connectors account for more than six million Australian viewers and three-quarters of them watch feature films, television drama and documentaries online on a monthly basis. One in five hype this viewing via social media and other avenues online.

“You can’t control word of mouth but you may be able to influence it by communicating with the right tools to the most engaged audiences. The challenge is clear. Creative, dynamic efforts are needed to ensure audiences continue to stay with Australian stories in an increasingly competitive multi-screen world,” said Dr Harley.

To read a summary of the report’s key insights and download the full report, What to Watch? Audience motivation in a multi-screen world, visit: