Australian commercial TV’s contribution to national GDP has lifted by 5% since 2019

A new report by Deloitte Access Economics reveals Australian commercial TV – an industry that employs 16,200 full-time employees – contributes $2.5 billion to the nation’s GDP – an increase of 5% since 2019.

The report, titled “Everybody Gets It: Revaluing the Economic and Social Benefits of Commercial TV in Australia (Second Edition)”, was commissioned by Free TV and conducted by Deloitte Access Economics.

The report found 23,000 hours of news & current affairs programs aired in 2021, with 85% of program expenditure dedicated to Australian programs.

Another finding in the report was 99% of Australians can access free TV services compared to at least 5.6 million Australians who can’t stream video on demand (VOD) due to broadband quality, availability, or insufficient data caps.

The report also noted macroeconomic challenges need to be taken into consideration, particularly inflation, which has risen 6.1% in the past year in Australia, resulting in some Australians cutting back on their spending, ‘cementing the need for an affordable entertainment service’.

The total economic contribution of commercial television increased by approximately $200 million between 2019 and 2021. In calendar year 2021, the total economic contribution of the commercial television industry was $2.5 billion. In 2019, the total economic contribution of commercial television was approximately $2.3 billion. Adjusting for inflation, this is equivalent to an increase of 5%.

The commercial television industry generated $3.4 billion in advertising revenue in 2021, which accounts for around 83% of Total TV (commercial TV, subscription TV, and broadcast video-on-demand) ad revenue.

According to Bridget Fair, CEO, Free TV: “Everybody Gets It reveals the critical role Free TV broadcasters play in the economy, our screen ecosystem, our local communities and our democracy. While audience viewing habits are evolving, more than 1 in five Australians still don’t have access to the broadband necessary to deliver streaming services. But commercial television is available to every Australian, and it’s free.”

Greg Hywood, chairman, Free TV said: “Australian content, trusted local news and the live action of our favourite sporting codes are fundamental parts of our identity, our society, and community connection.

Research has revealed that 74% of Australians believe reliable free-to-air television services are crucial for all Australians, especially for those without strong internet. In addition, more than three-quarters of Australians believe they should have free access to iconic sporting events and that this shouldn’t be limited to only those that can afford it.

Hywood continued: “The anti-siphoning scheme that ensures that iconic events of national significance stay on our TV screens expires next year and it only applies to Foxtel. The scheme would not stop subscription streaming services from acquiring exclusive rights to events like the NRL, AFL, Olympics or even the Melbourne Cup. Australians need the list extended and expanded to stop live and free sport disappearing exclusively behind paywalls,” he said.

This is particularly important as the cost of streaming SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) was cited as a concern for 58% of Australians. Deloitte analysis reveals the true impact on cost of living pressures with the average annual cost of entertainment subscriptions growing to $660 in 2021.

The research also found TV news is still the most frequently used news source and 75% of Australians believe that television news plays an important role as an information source during times of crisis. A recent JWS Research report ranked commercial television as the most useful source of information in the 2022 election campaign.

More than 65% of Australians believe commercial TV is a trusted source of local news, current affairs, and information essential to Australian society and democracy.

The full report can be viewed here.


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