Online viewing boosting long formats says Screen Australia

The number of Australians watching long-form content like movies and TV dramas online is increasing, according to research from Screen Australia.

The group has released the first report looking at Australian’s motivations for their choices of viewing, which it says is good news for TV and cinema, with 57% saying they watched more films, documentaries and dramas in the last year.

While more people are watching online content, most see it as a complimentary entertainment source and prefer to consume their shows on larger screens.

Screen Australia’s chief executive Dr Ruth Harley said: “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,”

“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.”

The study shows 70% of people searched actively for a title as opposed to browsing content, with many citing the ever-expanding portfolio of content as the reson for this.

Dr Harley added: “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.”

Unsurprisingly, social media also plays a large part in influencing people’s decision what to watch, with the report highlighting a group called Connectors who influence these decisions most.

The study shows more than a third of Twitter users will seek out online reviews from peers before opting to watch something, and 50% will post their thoughts on content afterwards.

“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,” said Dy Harley.

“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.”

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