14% of Australians plan to cancel pay TV as a result of the pandemic

Sunday, November 22nd, 2020
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New Research Shows 14 Percent of Australians Plan to Cancel Pay TV as a Result of the COVID Pandemic

  • Percentage of Cord-Cutting is Higher Among 18-to-34-Year-Olds
  • Nearly Half of Aussies Prefer to View Ads in Exchange for Premium Content vs Paid Subscription

SYDNEY — A growing number of Australian consumers are cutting their pay TV subscriptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent survey of 1,000 Australians by JWS Research for The Trade Desk (Nasdaq: TTD). Fourteen percent of Australians that use pay television services intend to cancel, put on hold or let lapse their pay TV services as a result of the pandemic. The percentage of subscription cancellations in Australia is currently higher than the 11 percent of U.S. consumers who plan to cancel based on a similar survey conducted in the U.S. by The Trade Desk in April of this year.

The percentage of Australian households that use pay television services plan to cancel, put on hold or let lapse their pay TV subscriptions as a result of the pandemic:

All households – 14 percent
18-34 age group – 23 percent
35-54 age group – 10 percent
55+ age group – 9 percent.

The research also found the number of Australian cord-cutters increases to 23 percent among 18-to-34-year-olds. Consumers in this age group are highly coveted by advertisers due to their disproportionally high disposable income and brand-loyalty potential, as well as the influence they have in being trendsetters for all age groups. The shift of this age group moving away from pay TV toward new models of TV consumption such as broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) signifies that advertisers will have to develop new strategies to reach these consumers.

“We’ve seen the pandemic accelerate consumer and media trends that would have taken years compressed into a few months. As a result, the advertising industry is going through a profound transformation that’s changing how marketers think about reaching consumers,” said James Bayes, General Manager, Australia and New Zealand, The Trade Desk. “With 14 percent of Australian households and 23 percent of young consumers shifting away from traditional pay TV coupled with the rise of BVOD and connected TV, advertisers have the opportunity to shift to a more efficient, data-driven approach to reach audiences while being deliberate with every advertising dollar. Broadcasters and pay TV operators have acknowledged this shift and are investing heavily in creating world-class streaming services with enhanced experiences, deep content catalogues and personalization capability.”

In addition, the survey shows that household budget constraints because of the pandemic are playing a major role in accelerating the cord-cutting trend. According to the survey, 28 percent of Australians who have had a loss of employment or income are planning to cancel, put on hold or let lapse their pay TV services.

The new research also provides further insights into Australians’ perspectives on ads during their viewing experience and their acceptance of ads in exchange for premium content. More than half of Australians (54 percent) watch content via a free ad-supported streaming service on a weekly basis. Nearly half of Australians (49 percent) prefer to watch TV content with free ads every other episode in order to keep receiving it for free. In addition, 46 percent of Australians are happy to watch ads if it means they can watch an episode of their favourite show for free.

While Australians look favourably at the value exchange of premium content, they also prefer less ads and place importance on ad frequency. The research shows that 45 percent of Australians get annoyed at having to watch the same ad repeated multiple times when watching streaming content; and 44 percent get annoyed by the actual number of ads played during ad breaks.

“BVOD ad experiences have improved significantly in a very short space of time, but it’s clear consumers have growing expectations of personalization and relevance,” said Bayes. “BVOD employs better data and measurement that advertisers can’t get with traditional TV. With connected TV, advertisers can achieve a new level of precision in TV buying that includes having a better understanding of the consumers they are trying to reach, and link that more directly to business performance.”


This survey for The Trade Desk was conducted by JWS Research on September 10-21, 2020. It’s a representative survey with a total sample size of 1,000 Australians, aged 18 years and over. The survey quotas applied for age, gender and location. The data was weighted and applied at the analysis stage to age, gender, location proportions based on ABS census data.