New digital channels challenging cable

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GO!, ABC2 and 7TWO are already pulling bigger crowds than Pay TV.

Until recently, Pay Television has had a pretty good ride in the Australian television market. Roughly speaking it is now in around 30 per cent of Australian homes, and seen by around 40 per cent of the population.

But with the advent of digital channels it has more competition. Digital uptake has been around 50 per cent of Australian viewers, and without the subscription fees, they are liking what they see. With the arrival of GO! and now 7TWO, TV shows on digital television are out-rating those on Pay TV.

On Monday night The Vampire Diaries took 148,000 viewers on GO! in its first screening. It was followed by titles including Doctor Who, Bewitched, Category 7: The End of the World, Junkyard Wars, Seinfeld, Play School and Frasier.

Landing at number nine was Pay TV's top show on Monday, The Simpsons, with 78,000 viewers. Grand Designs was its next best at 75,000. The new series The Contender Australia clocked in at 50,000.

On Tuesday it was a similar story. A Seinfeld repeat on GO! was best at 134,000 followed by Ugly Betty on 7TWO with 127,000. The best Pay TV could attract was a Fox Classics movie The Longest Day at 80,000.

TEN's new sports channel ONE picks up its biggest audiences on the weekend. Last week its Formula One Pre-Race pulled 106,000 viewers. Its NRL Replay had a more modest weekday figure of 30,000 yesterday, but TEN insists its overall audience is still ahead of Pay TV's sports channels.

ABC2 is a regular winner in the market with shows such as Scrapheap Challenge and Junkyard Wars consistently sitting near the top of digital rankings. Its SBS cousin SBS TWO trails a long way behind with Euro-soap 112 Emergency the more popular title.

So far it is Wipeout Australia and The Big Bang Theory on GO! that is out in front, but 7TWO is here to challenge with broad entertainment that offers alternatives to Pay TV subscriptions.

From Sunday, Pay TV steps up the contest, with 12 new channels, 10 new digital channels and eight new time-shift channels.

What about you? Are you watching more and more shows on digital channels? Comment below or discuss this topic in the forum now!

Figures are quoted from OzTAM, the official source of television ratings for all metropolitan TV and nationally for Subscription TV.

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