Impact of EPL loss is overstated within industry due to number of ex-pats says MCN sales boss

Frain: loss of EPL is probably being overstated.

Frain: loss of EPL is probably being overstated.

The sales and marketing boss of television sales house the Multi-Channel Network (MCN) has downplayed the impact of Fox Sports’ loss of the English Premier League on the pay-TV giant.

Mark Frain, chief sales and marketing officer at MCN, said the shock loss of the EPL broadcast rights to telco Optus was probably being overstated in media circles due the high number of British ex-patriates within the industry.

“There are a lot of English guys in the industry that will be talking about it – probably more than most – it is hard to say (what the impact will be),” said Frain. 

Earlier this month, Foxtel lost to the rights to the EPL to Optus sparking concerns that the pay-TV operator could potentially lose hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

The senior MCN executive, who is responsible for selling Foxtel’s audiences, downplayed this risk arguing that with the time difference of the EPL it was not a lucrative franchise in an advertising sense.

“Because of the time difference it comes in at a challenging time anyway,” he said. “If I look at all the codes from an advertising revenue perspective it is not one of the biggest money drivers.”

Frain noted that by securing AFL and NRL rights Foxtel would ensure it had a strong offering for Australian sports fans. As part of the deal with Nine Entertainment Co to secure the NRL rights Fox Sports will also create a dedicated channel in 2017, similar to Fox Footy.

“Given what we have achieved with the AFL deal, and now having the NRL confirmed, is great news for our business,” said Frain. “Moving into 2017 when we look to build a channel offering similar to Fox Footy that again comes back to innovating television.

“With the NRL and the AFL the fan interest in those codes is second to none in this market. Watching the performance of the AFL and NRL magazine shows in the past two or three years shows the commitment of fans to both those codes. I think it will go really well.”

The statement came as MCN announced its was extending its programmatic offering with the newly acquired Network Ten assets to be included within both its Multiview XP and MCN Programmatic XP private exchange from the second quarter of 2016.

It won’t be ready in terms of capability until Q2 next year. The first step for us is getting Ten onto our Landmark platform which happens in Q2. Once we have that then that true capability comes to life.

“This is an extension of what we did last year,” said Frain. “The first step will be adding our premium video inventory to that private marketplace. Then come Q2 an element of Ten’s inventory will be part of the marketplace so that media buyers will have the ability to buy premium inventory across Foxtel, Ten and across our key digital assets.”

mcn_logo_MCN launched the first private exchange for linear TV in Australia in June and will now expand it to include Ten inventory and premium digital assets and while its broader programmatic data play launched last year has also been extended to include the free-to-air network, which has moved its sales functions following Foxtel’s investment.

“The data play is an extension of what we took the industry through last year with the multiview product being able to target and trade more than just demographics,” said Frain.

“The big play this year is maintaining that strategy from MCN’s perspective, but starting to apply that to linear free-to-air across Ten’s inventory and across of a number of our core digital assets as well.

“The proposition of bringing Ten’s strong audience performance together with the (data) capability has certainly captured the imagination of the industry and captured the possibilities of what happens moving forward into 2016.”

Frain also said he welcomed moves by rivals Seven and Nine to catch up in the programmatic space, after a series of announcements by the pair in their 2016 upfront presentations.

“Catch up isn’t the right word,” he said. “What is key is continuing to add relevancy and digital capability to the television business. What they are doing is great for the TV business.

“MCN is committed to ongoing innovation to lead television. Nine etc. have been complimentary to what we have built. Their announcements over the last three to four weeks have been helpful and have helped add greater stability and innovation to the overall TV business.”

Frain also played down the impact of declines in audiences for television in both free-to-air and pay-TV telling Mumbrella: “It is the journey are we all on. It is positive news for the overall category. I think it only strengthens viewers and advertisers interest in premium content and what the new world of television can do for advertisers and brands.”

Nic Christensen 


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