Australian consumers spending more than 10 hours of every day on their digital devices

Thursday 4 February 2016

  • Share
  • Australians with a digital device spend, on average, 10 hours and 24 minutes engaging with their devices every day
  • Twenty three per cent of consumers say they spend more time on their smartphone than talking to their partner or friends
  • Almost a quarter (24%) of Australians feel overwhelmed by the information provided by their mobile device, with four in ten struggling to keep up with the rapid increase in digital device capabilities
  • Twenty five per cent of those who illegally downloaded TV, music, or movies in the last 12 months said they are doing so less frequently, as high speed broadband and streaming services make access increasingly easy and affordable

Comfort with digital spending is creating a fertile environment for new players looking to extract dollars from Australian consumers, according to a new EY report. 

EY’s Digital Australia: State of the Nation 2015-16 found that the majority of consumers (63%) are comfortable with the amount they’re spending on digital, with less than a third (29%) concerned they spend too much.

The report, conducted by EY Sweeney, surveyed 1,500 consumers and over 140 of Australia’s “digital opinion leaders”, exploring views about Australia’s digital status compared to its global competitors, the best and worst sectors online, smartphone and tablet use and behavior, and social media.

EY Oceania Digital Partner Tom Kennedy said with widespread device penetration Australians are spending an average of $782 on upfront hardware costs and $181 on monthly digital subscription services or ad hoc purchases such as apps, of which home phone and internet services account for the greatest overall spend.

“Home connectivity and devices are still the biggest beneficiaries of digital expenditure, largely because of performance and affordability. As a result, Australians are spending more on monthly home phone and internet plans than on mobile plans.”

“Australians are becoming increasingly comfortable with spending on digital apps and services especially where they enhance lifestyle utility and access to content. This makes Australia a great place to launch and test new digital offerings, with a ready market of sophisticated users for online content and mobile services.”

Mr Kennedy said online payments were already embedded in the Australian commercial system, with 38% of Australians saying they would rather conduct transactions over the internet than by phone or face-to-face.

With one in five Australians making contactless mobile phone payments, in 2016 we will see the next steps towards a cashless society.”

Sector vs sector

EY Customer Leader Jenny Young said banking and finance were leading the way when it comes to consumers’ digital usage.

“More Australians used the internet for banking and finance than for any other functional activity in 2015, with a third (36%) doing so once a week or more.

“This finding highlights how integral the internet has become to banking and finance services. Banking apps, particularly by the major banks, are quickly developing in terms of their functionality and ease of use,” Ms Young said.

Ms Young said when consumers were asked to rank their ‘digital experience’ across all key sectors, the results were similar to 2014, with the two main movers being financial services (improved) and government services (declined).

“Regardless of whether the status quo reflects a lack of progress or similar incremental gain across the board, it appears few sectors have delivered true innovation in customer engagement or experience.

“Consumers’ criteria for a ‘high quality digital experience’ continues to revolve around entry-level factors. Security is at the top of the list, following by basic functionality requirements, such as ease of navigation and the ability to find a product or contact information,” Ms Young said.

Digital privacy

EY Technology, Media & Entertainment and Telecommunications Leader David McGregor said almost two-thirds of Australian consumers continue to worry about the personal information organisations can access.

“Consumers are willing to disclose personal information, if they can see how it’s being used.

“With the rise of social media, people are putting unprecedented levels of personal information into the public domain but social media networks like Facebook have comprehensive, self-administered privacy controls.

“Organisations need to allay consumer fears by providing transparency, choice and control including granular control over how personal information can be used,” Mr McGregor said.

Further findings from the EY’s Digital Australia: State of the Nation 2015-16:

Digital lifestyle: 2015 was a milestone year with over eight in ten Australians and 96% of 18-34 year olds, now using a smartphone.

Digital mobility: While mobile devices can increase productivity, they can also increase the level of procrastination. Smartphones are being used by large numbers of Australians in a wide range of contexts, when watching TV (77%), in bed (64%), eating a meal at home (50%), in the toilet/bathroom (42%) and while driving (21%).

Media consumption: While there has been an explosion of streaming video on demand as well as the launch of Apple music, the survey found that traditional forms of accessing content are still the primary choice for many. Two-thirds of Australians spend more than two hours each day watching TV shows or movies on a television set. 82% of Australians are watching free-to-air, 28% subscribing to a Pay TV service and 18% to a streaming provider. While 12% of Australians have signed up to Netflix Australia, Foxtel remains the most popular source of subscription TV and movies according to 22% of respondents.

Music streaming: Like TV and movie streaming services, the accessibility and personalisation of music streaming services appears to be a major draw card. The most popular online music streaming service among subscribers is Spotify (52%), which allows users to browse, create and play a variety of music playlists from a diverse range of genres. Spotify is followed by Apple Music (34%), Pandora (24%) and Google Play (18%).

Illegal downloading: Forty-three per cent of Australians downloaded unauthorised TV shows, movies or music in 2015 – 43% of them aged 18-34.

Social media: Seventy five per cent of Australians access social media daily and in 2015, Australia’s social media usage remained largely unchanged. Facebook continues to dominate, rated as the standout network for communicating and keeping up to date with friends and family. Pinterest was the only real mover, up from 23% in 2014 to 29%.

For a copy of the report and to view all the data from the primary research, available in filterable tables, visit EY’s interactive online portal at


About EY

EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young Australia, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.