Cricket Australia launches Apple TV channel and eyes possible subscription model



Cricket Australia (CA) has launched into the world of internet TV with a new channel, but has chosen the Apple TV platform over the Freeview Plus offering launched last year by the free to air networks for today’s launch.

The new channel will feature a mixture of interviews, tutorials and highlights, with some content for the new free offering being created by Nine Network, which airs Australia’s international matches.

Ben Amarfio, CA’s executive director of media, communications and marketing, told Mumbrella it had not ruled out becoming available on other platforms like Freeview Plus in the future, adding it was also possible it could move to a subscription model for the channel.

“When you look at a lot of American sports they have a subscription model and it’s very successful,” Amarfio said. “We have our own subscription model with our app, and we increased to price of that this summer to $29.99, but we are still 20 per cent up on revenues from last year.

“That shows us that despite the fact we have great free content from Nine (international cricket) and Ten (Big Bash Cricket) people are prepared to put up $30 of their hard earned money to get more content.”

But he added any move to that would come “down the track”, adding they had chosen Apple TV because of its growth in Australia, with an estimated 1m units in circulation.

The Freeview Plus HbbTV platform was launched last year by the industry body Freeview, with Nine and Ten two of the launch partners for it.

The new service will also offer match highlights to fans around 90 minutes after a match or day’s play has finished, with Amarfio saying a lot of the channel’s content would be repurposed from its other assets, with some original programming as well.

Amarfio said he had been “blown away” with the success for cricket this year, with attendances and TV audiences up for the test series against India compared to the last time they toured, and crowds up for the Big Bash.

He put that down to sustained marketing efforts around the matches, as well as the success of the international teams in particular.

The latest set of Nielsen online numbers also show CA’s official website was the top sports website in the country for December with its highest ever unique audience of 1.1m eclipsing the previous best of 840,000.

Amarfio said that had been driven by the quality of the test series with India, as well as the inclusion of coverage of overseas content on other series going on, with particular interest in New Zealand v Pakistan and England’s recent one day tour of Sri Lanka.

The new platform will carry ads, and its launch will have marketing support from CA, Nine and Apple TV as well.

Alex Hayes


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