ASTRA slams Twitter Melbourne Cup deal warning of paywall for future streamed sports events

The head of the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) has slammed Twitter’s announcement that it will live-stream The Melbourne Cup, warning it is only a matter of time before the brand scooped up more events and put them behind a paywall.

Andrew Maiden, CEO of ASTRA, said that the social media channel was not investing in Australia, but merely taking advantage of current laws surrounding sports’ anti-siphoning which do not affect digital streaming companies.

He said that Twitter was now competing against local companies on an unlevel playing field where subscription broadcasters were limited in how they could fight back.

“Twitter is now a sports broadcaster competing with Australian companies that invest and create jobs here,” Maiden said.

“Twitter is testing the market before digital platforms scoop up more sports rights, eventually putting them behind a paywall.”

Twitter buildingHe said that the ability of the social media giant to buy the streaming rights to the Melbourne Cup was the beginning of a new push by the brand.

In North America, Twitter has begun streaming National Football League (NFL) Games as it begins to morph from a chatter channel to a media player in its own right.

“Nothing in Australian law stops Twitter, Facebook or other digital platforms buying key local sports and monetising the content via subscriptions,” Maiden said.

“It is absurd that overseas companies that invest little and employ few Australians can do something the local subscription television industry cannot.”

The digital deal sees Twitter’s coverage of the great Australian horse race go head-to-head with Seven’s live coverage on the first Tuesday in November.


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