Free TV: Millions will miss out on free sport unless laws are updated

Bridget Fair, CEO, Free TV

Only 29% of Australians watch TV exclusively through an aerial, according to the research commissioned by Free TV.

69% of Australians access TV via the internet, meaning millions would miss out on watching sport if proposed anti-siphoning laws are not applied to streaming services, according to research commissioned by Free TV as part of its ongoing campaign for the government to update the proposed laws.

The national polling by Resolve Strategic found only 29% of Australians watch TV exclusively through an aerial and 18% of those are considering switching to digital soon.

If anti-siphoning laws are not extended to digital services, around half (49%) of people who use free streaming services such as 7plus, 9Now and 10 Play reported they would simply miss out on watching sport.

17% said they would reconnect their aerial and only 9% would sign up to paid streaming services.

“This research shows that most Australians are watching TV through the internet and this proportion will only increase as more people either ditch their aerials and new homes are built without them,” said Free TV CEO Bridget Fair.

“New anti-siphoning laws must be updated to reflect this reality otherwise millions will be forced to buy expensive streaming subscriptions during a cost-of-living crisis or miss out altogether on the great sporting events that bind our nation together.

“All Australians deserve access to sport, regardless of their income or whether they have an antenna on their home.”

The research also found 67% of Australians support anti-siphoning laws which protect access to free sport and 69% support extending those laws to digital services.

The government’s anti-siphoning bill prevents subscription streaming services such as Amazon, Apple, and Disney from buying exclusive terrestrial broadcast rights to sporting events like the Olympics, AFL, NRL and cricket.

However, they can still acquire exclusive digital rights.

The Resolve polling, commissioned by Free TV Australia – which represents free-to-air broadcasters including Seven, Nine and Ten – found that extending the rules to apply to streaming rights would be popular.

Almost a third (32%) of voters would be more likely to vote for a major party acting on this issue while only 3% would be less likely.

Top image: Bridget Fair

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