Foxtel creates chief customer service officer role, with Lesley Portwain taking the helm

Foxtel’s senior leadership team and marketing functions are undergoing a further shake-up, with the subscription content company creating two new roles: chief customer service officer at Foxtel, and executive director of operations and technology for the Foxtel Group. Both new roles will report directly to Foxtel’s CEO Patrick Delany.

Lesley Portwain, currently director of customer service, will take on the chief customer service officer role, while chief operating officer at Kayo Sports, Les Wigan, steps up to become executive director of operations and technology.

Foxtel has announced the latest round of changes to its senior team 

In addition, chief operations officer Euan Smith is leaving to become CEO of Malaysian TV operation, Astro, and Alice Mascia, Foxtel’s chief product and strategy officer will take on responsibility for Foxtel’s Transformation office.

Delany said the shake-up gives Foxtel the opportunity to move forward its plans for transformation.

“We now have an opportunity to bring forward our plans to reset Foxtel’s operating model,” he said. “This will involve bringing best-in-class digital technology, including that created for the Kayo Sports streaming platform, across the entire Group with the aim of delivering a material improvement in efficiency and customer experience.”

Foxtel said Portwain had already played a key role in improving Foxtel’s customer satisfaction levels, and will now take on responsibility for all customer journeys from post-sale to point of retention for the Foxtel product.

Wigan was integral to establishing Foxtel’s sports streaming service Kayo, the company said, and will now be charged with looking after all technology platforms, services and operations across the Group’s broadcast, streaming, enterprise and Studios functions. His role will include unifying the underlying technology and platforms across the Group.

Foxtel’s majority owner, News Corp, is keen to replicate the success of Kayo into other content verticals.

At News Corp’s recent financial results, CEO Robert Thomson, said doing so would enable Foxtel to extend its reach.

“Finally, at Foxtel, we are planning our entertainment OTT product, which is built off the Kayo system, and like Kayo will help maximise the value of existing rights, and reach binge-conscious consumers outside our traditional [base],” he said.

Chief financial officer Susan Panuccio also flagged its hopes for the new product, which will utilise the technology behind Kayo.

Foxtel wants to replicate Kayo’s success 

“We’ve also been pleased with the increasing brand awareness [of Kayo], the stability of the platform, and more importantly, customer feedback in relation to the user experience. Kayo’s solid subscriber base gives us optimism as it enters its second year, ahead of the prime winter sports selling season,” she said. “The team continues to work on a new OTT entertainment product, built on the Kayo technology platform, with the commercial launch anticipated in the fourth quarter,” she said.

In recent months, Foxtel has continued to change up its marketing ranks, with chief of brand marketing Arianna Saita resigning, and various other marketers departing: Olivia Nixon (head of brand marketing for brand content and products), Jesse Stephens (director of growth marketing), Chris Pocock (head of marketing at Fox Sports), Irena Kelava (head of brand marketing), Amy Alder (general manager of Foxtel agency, Felix), Polly Blenkinship (marketing director of insights and media), and Lisa Johnstone (director of loyalty).

Foxtel’s three creative teams – Felix, FNA Creative and Fox Sports Creative – were also rolled into one team.

There were also redundancies in October last year as the sales and marketing departments were restructured.

In June last year, Foxtel’s group director of marketing John Casey left the business after less than three months.

Foxtel’s current chief marketing officer, Kieren Cooney, joined the company in October 2018. He has since shifted its creative agency, moving the account from DDB Sydney to Saatchi & Saatchi after just 18 months.


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