Are Ten’s woes the beginning of the end for free-to-air TV?

16th June 2017 3:39 PM
Network Ten has been placed into voluntary administration. Network Ten has been placed into voluntary administration. Renee Nowytarger

IT'S easy to forget that there was a time not so long ago where Network Ten reigned supreme in Australian TV ratings, leaving its rivals clambering over each other for distant second.

But those days are over and news this week that the commercial broadcaster has gone into voluntary administration shouldn't come as any great surprise.

There's been a lot of speculation about what has led to the once great Ten's fall from ratings grace. (Personally, I think removing a certain four-fingered yellow family and the residents of Ramsay Street from their prime time slot and on to their second-rate sister channel 11 could have been a contributing factor).

But whoever or whatever is at fault, the downfall of Ten is really just the beginning of the end for free-to-air commercial TV.

They may be rubbing their hands together with glee right now, but it won't be long before Seven and Nine follow suit as viewers increasingly switch off from traditional TV to streaming.

Roy Morgan research last year showed that more than one in seven Australians don't watch any commercial TV at all on a normal weekday. That figure had more than doubled from 2008.

The commercial stations have been too slow to adapt in a quickly evolving landscape. It's only been relatively recently that all of the stations have catch-up sites that work properly and have decent amounts of content.

Even the ABC managed to catch the wave earlier with iView and now it even offers exclusive online-only content, something that can't be said for any of the big three.

Viewers' expectations have changed dramatically. We're busier than ever and we want to be able to watch the shows we want to watch, when we want to watch them.

With so many more options available with Netflix and Stan's entrance in the market it's easier than ever for the traditional broadcasters to lose us to the lure of bingeing convenience.

The jury is still out on whether or not this is actually the end of Ten.

It would be a shame if it were.

But this should serve as a dire warning to the other stations.

Re-runs of The Simpsons and overblown Australian produced versions of American reality shows are no longer enough to win our attention.

It's a classic case of survival of the fittest. Only those who adapt to their surroundings will stay alive.