Foxtel’s dominance of the Australian subscription TV market looks set to grow after it agreed to take control of the Showtime movie channels.
Foxtel completed its takeover of Austar in May.
The deal revealed tonight is with Showtime’s owner Premium Movie Partnership whose shareholders included Sony Pictures, Universal, Paramount and the News Corp-owned 20th Century Fox. News Corp is currently a 25% owner of Foxtel and is aiming to increase this to 50% through its offer to buy Consolidated Media Holdings from shareholders including majority owner James Packer.
Foxtel said the deal was to acquire “certain assets of the PMP business”. It said: “The current PMP channels will be directly produced and managed by Foxtel. The majority of current PMP staff will be offered positions at Foxtel.” A spokesman told Mumbrella that Showtime staff would “eventually” relocate relocating from their headquarters at Moore Park in Sydney to Foxtel’s base on the other side of the city at Macquarie Park.
It is also unclear whether competition regulator the ACCC will have a view of the deal so soon after giving the go ahead to the Austar acquisition. The Foxtel spokesman said: “They are well aware of this. We have kept them informed.”
The early evening announcement from Foxtel was lowkey, with no mention made of Showtime brands at all.
The lowkey Foxtel announcement in its entirety
Showtime’s channels include Showtime Premiere, Showtime Two, Showtime Action, Showtime Comedy, Showtime Drama, Showcase and Showcase Two. Showtime launched in Australia 17 years ago.
As well as the studio owners, Showtime also has access to programming from Hopscotch, Icon, Dendy, Hoyts Distribution, Transmission, Madman, Dreamworks, Palace Films, Rialto, CBS, HBO and Starz.
CEO Richard Freudenstein said in the statement: “This is a very sensible transaction for Foxtel. It drives synergies and savings that will enable us to offer a better movie and premium drama product to our subscribers. Bringing the PMP channels in-house will perfectly complement our recently launched drama channel SoHo”.
The main competitor to Showtime is Movie Network Channels, which runs Movie One, Movie Two, Starpics 1, Starpics 2, FMC, Movie Extra and Movie Greats. MNC is owned by Warner Bros, Disney ABC, MGM and Village Roadshow.