NBCUniversal plays down the competitive risk to Foxtel from new SVOD service Hayu

Fellowes: Hayu and Foxtel will be 'complimentary'.

Fellowes: Hayu and Foxtel will be ‘complementary’.

Senior executives at NBCUniversal have played down the competitive risk to pay-TV operator Foxtel from the US production giant’s new move to launch a reality TV-focused streaming service, Hayu. 

Speaking on the sidelines of a media briefing on Friday, NBCUniversal APAC managing director Christine Fellowes acknowledged there would be an overlap in the content, but claimed its offering would “complementary”.

“Foxtel are a very important relationship for us in this market,” Fellowes told Mumbrella. “We have five of our channels on their service, we licence content for a number of our channels and that remains core to our business.”

The launch of Hayu was made earlier this month with the US entertainment giant confirming it would launch in this market in the coming week as a price point of $5.99 aimed at what NBCUniversal says is an audience of 6m local female reality TV fans.

The announcement of the service, which will be built around popular US reality shows like Keeping Up With The Kardashians, The Real Housewives and Top Chef, has already drawn a warning from Foxtel with its CEO Richard Freudenstein telling the media, last week, that the cable and satellite TV monopoly owner would pay less in fees to Hollywood studios if they also offer their content direct to consumers.

Freudenstein: US production houses will have consider a tradeoff.

Freudenstein: US production houses will have to consider a trade-off.

“It’s a trade-off,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “When we look at our content partners, we look at what’s the right amount to pay them based on the quality of their product and where they distribute it.

Asked about Freudenstein’s remarks, Fellowes emphasised their long term relationship and dismissed the risk that it could be undermining its partner’s business.

“We don’t think it is (at risk of undermining Foxtel), we think this is actually incredibly complementary to Foxtel,” she said. “The service Foxtel has offers enormous scope and depth and we don’t see this as competitive we see it as complementary.”

The senior NBCUniversal executive also signalled a major local marketing push for the Hayu brand around its launch.


Hayu will launch in the coming weeks.

“This is a new brand we are launching in the Australian market,” she said. “It will launch in March and will be supported by a strong digital campaign.

“This audience is very digitally savvy and very much connected and we will be everywhere they are. There will also be a big above-the-line campaign.

“The marketing we doing and the profile we are giving to reality stars and the genre it will only enhance the viewing on Foxtel.”

Jay McNamara, NBCUniversal’s executive vice president of strategy development & analytics, noted that that price point of $5.99 – well below Netflix and other rivals – was a deliberate decision.

“We want Hayu to be a no-brainer decision for the reality fan rather than a household discussion,” said McNamara.

The US executive also noted that the service would be curated and that while the US giant produces some some 1700 hours of new, unscripted programming each year not all of it would be made available on the platform.

“That’s an important number to remember,” he said. “When we produce 1700 hours a year we are not heaving it into a pile for people to rummage through blindly. Instead we are putting about a third of that on Hayu – the third we think that reality fans want most.”

While Fellowes acknowledged that Hayu would target an audience of some 6m Australian women she was reluctant to be drawn on the how big it could build a local audience in its first two years.

“We see Hayu as being a service that is a very specific genre and niche,” she said. “Six million is the number of women who watch reality TV and that is the potential for the audience.

“We are not focused on the numbers as much as ensuring that people get a really good experience with this. We are building a big franchise and it is a new experience.

“It is a very different service to anything else being offered here.”

Nic Christensen


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