Foxtel dismisses online challengers as it unveils more local content ahead of major subs push

CEO Richard Freudenstein at last night's Foxtel upfronts.

CEO Richard Freudenstein at last night’s Foxtel upfronts.

Foxtel last night unveiled its 2015 line up while vowing to drive its market penetration and simultaneously ward off looming online streaming competitors, such as Netflix and StreamCo.

Among the major announcements at the company’s 2015 upfronts last night were the pay-TV provider beefing up its Australian content with the launch of a local version of UK franchise Gogglebox in conjunction with the Ten Network, extend its partnership with HBO and through media sales house MCN work to drive programmatic across with a new partnership. Foxtel also announced it would take some of its video advertising in house.

Speaking on stage at the event last night Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein said recent changes, including September’s announcement of a drop in entry price for Foxtel, had laid the groundwork for the next stage of growth: “We have completed the Austar merger, we’ve improved all our programming deals, built new technology platforms and now with the launch of new pricing and packaging next week, IQ3 soon, and early next year triple play we are ready for the next major phase of subscriber growth.”

“We are absolutely confident that when the new pricing packages launches next week many many Australian, who have not previously considered Foxtel, will take another look. More subscribers will translate to many more eyeballs watching our content and the advertising carried with it. ”

Freudenstein sought to challenge media and market speculation that changes were being driven by looming competition from the imminent launch of online streaming ventures such as Fairfax/Nine venture StreamCo or overseas competitor Netflix. 

“There has been speculation we have made these changes in response to coming competition, we haven’t,” he said. “We have done it as part of a well planned strategy to respond to consumer behaviour and grow our business. I am absolutely confident that we are in a position to meet any competition and beat it.”

The Foxtel CEO noted that it has its own streaming service with Presto and said there would soon be a major marketing effort around the price changes. He also told a crowd of media buyers, clients and celebrities that there would be more information on developments with Presto “soon” but argued its deal with exclusive deal with HBO was a way to head off any overseas challenge from the likes of Netflix.

“We have secured rights to the very best content, much of it like HBO and we have the rights to use that content on many different platforms,” said Freudenstein. “The new content is a game changer for us but it must be underpinned by good content and wonderful user experience.”

Among the major content announcements are a third season of prison drama Wentworth, Deadline Gallipoli, produced by and starring Sam Worthington, The Kettering Incident, an eight part drama thriller with Matthew Le Nevez and Elizabeth Debicki.

There was also a major new comedy project featuring Rick McKenna and Laura Walters, an adult animation created by Working Dog called Pacific Heat and more detail on Foxtel’s decision to pick up A Place to Call Home from rival Seven, with confirmation it has commissioned two more seasons.

One of the most interesting announcements of the night was a deal between Ten and Foxtel to co-commission UK franchise Gogglebox for Australia. The show is an observational documentary which will show ordinary Australians watching TV and commenting on the programs across all the networks.

Foxtel executive director of television, Brian Walsh, said: “Gogglebox is a game changer for Australian television. It is one of the most unique and entertaining formats I have seen in many years.”

While Beverley McGarvey Ten’s programming officer, confirmed that it would air on Foxtel’s Lifestyle channel one night and then then tomorrow, said: “Gogglebox is original, authentic and, most of all, extremely entertaining. We are very pleased to be collaborating with Foxtel to bring this brilliant new show to Australia.”

Another major announcement was around the Multi Channel Network (MCN) which confirmed that it will, together with, launch an integrated programmatic private marketplace for TV.

It also confirmed its programmatic trading platform Landmark would move to its next phase with the dynamic scheduling of TV buying and the launch of Multiview XP a new data modelling product to help media buyers target audiences.

“These developments will continue to evolve the subscription television industry and put MCN at the forefront of the changes within the overall media landscape,” said Anthony Fitzgerald, CEO of MCN.

“Through our new platforms we have the most effective and efficient mass targeting television product ever seen in Australia. Advertisers will be able to purchase actual consumer segments, based upon real purchasing behavior, instead of focusing purely on traditional age and gender demographics.”

Foxtel has also penned a deal with Tubemogul saying it has secured a video advertising agreement which will see the pay-TV company taking control of its programmatic video advertising buying operations in-house.

“We’re very excited about the partnership with TubeMogul because it allows us to make smarter decisions about every video ad we buy and reach the right audiences using
 the power of programmatic software,” said Justin Robinson, director of marketing operations and media for Foxtel.

“The Foxtel team will leverage TubeMogul’s full product suite for media buying, including BrandPoint, a tool for accurately buying digital video on a target audience rating point (TARP) basis. TubeMogul said it would work with Foxtel to deliver true performance visibility and would allow it to bring its data, marketing and technology investments closer together,” he said.

Nic Christensen 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.