Julian Ogrin and Kate de Brito on the launch of Flash and changing news habits

Foxtel has today launched its new news streaming service, Flash, as it looks to change the way that subscribers consume news.

Full details of Flash were revealed at a virtual event yesterday, after first being announced last month, with the platform offering consumers access to more than 20 global and local providers, including Al Jazeera, BBC World News, Bloomberg TV, CNN International, Fox News Channel and Sky News Australia.

Foxtel is jointly owned by News Corp Australia and Telstra. Telco rival Optus launched SubHub in August, which similarly brings together content subscriptions for members, however on SubHub, users can bundle different streaming and subscription memberships in one place.

Speaking to Mumbrella, CEO of Flash and Stream Motion, Julian Ogrin and executive director Kate de Brito said that the platform is the coming together of the successes of streaming, and the growing market for credible news sources that social media doesn’t offer.

Julian Ogrin at the Flash launch

“While people are happy to search and be given news on social media platforms, there is still an appetite for people to get news from some of the most credible news sources,” said de Brito. “I think what we’re providing is the same sort of convenient way you may have had previously, if you think social media is offering you convenience.”

“We were changing behavior in the way people watch sport (on Kayo), and I think what we’re doing with Flash, along with the familiarity of it being on a stream, is changing the behaviour of how you watch news,” said Ogrin. “To be able to personalise it, and get the convenience dialed up by having all of that available to you, whether you want to watch it live, or on catch up.”

The service is available for $8 a month, “the price of two coffees” said Ogrin during the launch event, which was unfortunately plagued by streaming issues.

Kate de Brito at the Flash Launch

While the two refused to offer any targets on subscription numbers, de Brito said that it will “probably start with people aged 30 and up”, however not meaning those are the only people it is looking for.

“It doesn’t mean we’re not looking at younger people, we definitely, definitely are.”

“We think that the people who will use our service are probably paying for some sort of news subscription in some form, and they probably also have a streaming subscription.”

In addition, de Brito said there are also those that have an interest in a particular news brand they cannot access in Australia, and those that want a multiplicity of views in one place.

“That’s our research that those are the people who would be most inclined to take up Flash at the beginning.”

Ogrin quoted in the launch event that 80% of Australians are now regularly consuming news in some form, and when asked if consumers will be looking to turn away from news as COVID hopefully easing on the horizon, de Brito said that this poses an new opportunity.

“I think COVID has wet a lot of peoples’ appetite for news, and it may have changed some viewing habits,” said de Brito. “I think it’s actually a good opportunity. People will be out and about and will need portable news. So this is a good opportunity for a service that provides news wherever you are.”

With three new sub brands in three years, following the successive launches of Kayo, Binge, and now Flash, when asked what was in the pipeline for next year Ogrin offered a laugh and hint that there are ideas in the motion.

“It’s great that we got three out in three years, and that has come through leveraging the synergies of the Stream Motion platform,” he said. “We’ve got ideas on some new verticals that could be great opportunities, but that comes with a lot more research, understanding and planning.”

On advertising integration, Ogrin said “it is very early days”, but initially some will be built into the live feed of Flash’s brand streams.

“We’re taking live sources there that just have the embedded feed. It’s such an early days (to comment on ad integrations) because you’ve got to build an audience, find out the segments, the user data, what’s their behavior and what cohorts are there. And then you come up with an advertising strategy around it.

“We’ve just started getting into that conversation with Kayo two years in, and Binge will be up next.”

CTO of Flash, Les Wigan

On whether Stream Motion and Foxtel expects consumers to be shelling out for each of its three products, Ogrin affirmed, as he has done previously, that each have a single brand focus.

“Their success (Kayo and Binge) has come by being absolutely single focused on giving a sports fan a great experience, and giving an entertainment fan a great experience. So we’ll do this again for news”

“The addressable market we believe is large, in terms of what we’re going for. We think it’s ‘news for the streaming generation’,” said Ogrin. “How many people will actually consider that? We’ll just go in there and provide a great service.”

Flash launches today, with users able to sign up to a 14 day free trial, with no contract lock ins.


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