‘Some of the biggest we have seen’: Industry reacts to last night’s Foxtel’s upfront announce

This is part of Mumbrella’s coverage of the 2024 upfront season. Click here to see other articles in the series.

Last night, the Foxtel Group revealed a slate of excellent 2024 programming, Australia’s biggest TV measurement system, and also solved the number one problem with streaming. All in all, a good evening’s work (although it was raining). But is that enough to impress the people who buy the ads that pay the bills?

Ana Rasic. CHEP Network’s associate investment director,

If one thing became clear from the night’s upfront, it’s that Foxtel wants us to know it’s looking forward, not back. The spotlight was on the strength of their premium digital video and data solutions showing us how far they have come from their pay TV roots. Throughout the evening the network delivered a consistent message, video first, all underpinned by the success of Kayo and Binge.

The introduction of a more simplified buying model across linear TV, only 10 key demos and 3 day-parts, re-iterated Foxtel’s shift in focus and strategy, but despite their declaration there will be less “old-timey” stuff in 2024 there’s still work to be done on how agencies and clients are buying media now, for example the demand in the industry for a total screens’ measurement solution.

Foxtel finished off the evening’s presentation with a tease of a new product – Hubbl, while very little detail was given it claims to fuse free and paid TV and if Foxtel are to be believed is going to fundamentally change the tv streaming experience to deliver a more satisfied user experience. A bold claim to end the night on re-enforcing Foxtel’s confidence that they are “Australia’s Most Watchable”.

It will be interesting to see how Foxtel’s strategy and partnerships heading into 2024 will create meaningful solutions for agencies and clients, particularly how their partnership with VideoAmp will create a new measurement system that leverages Foxtel’s wealth of data across multiple platforms. And of course, I’m keen to see Paul Kelly’s classic hit “How to Make Gravy” brought to life in Binge’s first ever feature length film.

Louis Mayne, head of investment, Foundation

Some pretty big announcements from Foxtel, maybe some of the biggest we have seen at an upfront.

Moving away from OzTAM ratings to their own Kantar ratings is a bold move but Foxtel has previously voiced some concerns that OzTAM underreports the actual viewing data they can see from their set-top box data. Having access to over 1 million devices’ actual viewing behaviour is something we are excited about.

They will continue to allow us to trade using OzTAM ratings in 2024, so there will be no immediate change for our clients. However, in the long term if they do move away from OzTAM entirely it will impact our ability to have a unified reach and frequency figure across our TV campaigns.

VideoAmp is Foxtel’s long-term play, and the tech will enable them to show unduplicated reach across their total network (STV, BVOD & SVOD). Omnicom has worked with VideoAmp in the US for several years, and we know the sophistication that their technology can bring. The big question for us is whether the Australian TV market is big enough to operate as a multiple currency marketplace.

The ultimate aim is to try and get one unified source of reach and frequency, so if they can’t get other providers on board, it could be a frustrating experience for everyone that Foxtel isn’t part of VOZ. If as Foxtel suggests they can seduce the likes of YouTube, SBS and other SVOD providers to come on board, it will be undeniable challenger to the VOZ data set.

Their continued partnership with HBO will see more watchable shows land like the new season of True Detective, The Regime and The Sympathizer, but there was more prominence given to local homegrown originals this year which was great to see. Foxtel is and will continue to be the home of sport in Australia with all major sports locked in for the next 4-7 years, a staggering 130 sport bodies live on their platforms and Kayo subscribers consuming over 9 hours of sport content a week.

We were also given a sneak peek at Foxtel’s new hardware product Hubbl, which is set to launch in 2024. Hubbl will allow consumers to aggregate subscriptions into one user interface and prevent them from having to jump in and out of different apps to view content. The technology is like that of the global tech providers Google and Amazon, so I’m interested to see how they can innovate in this space.

The plans they have in place for their new audience measurement service could completely change the way we report TV/BVOD, not only for Foxtel but for the whole sector. There is likely to be some frustration on our side around the additional work that utilising two audience currencies could bring but there is no growth without pain. If the end game is having a measurement service that is digital first and utilised across all SVOD providers, then we look forward to seeing the innovation that is to come.

Patrick Delany

Paige Wheaton, chief partnerships and investment officer, Initiative

The melodic rhythm of rain on the tin roof of the Cockatoo Island venue added even more theatre to the ambience of the slick production that was the Foxtel Media upfront. Leaving us with bold, big bets to takeaway it felt like a well balanced approach to an ambitious 2024.

Most notable announcement of the night was Foxtel Group CEO Patrick Delany’s announcement of the much anticipated Hubbl. Referred quietly over the past 18 months as Project Magneto, revealing their product and tech evolution. Foxtel’s ambition to be an all in one place aggregator comes to life with a partnership strength of no other in Australia. I’m really looking forward to this development evolving. What will be interesting to see is how consumers navigate this “nice to have” in times of economic uncertainty. What this means for those of us with IQ boxes remains to be seen, but we’re excited for what this means for the future of content consumption.

Foxtel’s approach to digital video first showcases strong parallels to Initiative’s screens strategy and how we effectively navigate delivering scale amongst audience fragmentation for our clients. We commend Foxtel for their approach to evolving antiquated methodologies and an ambition to achieve a single currency trading approach.

This was similarly reflected in their two key measurement announcements, supported by partnerships with Kantar and VideoAmp. Sitting on quite possibly one of the most extensive and robust data sources in Australia, the current utilisation is somewhat untapped and represents a huge opportunity for advertisers and agencies. We welcome an alternative measurement solution to view alongside the tried and trusted, and the creation of the Video Futures Collective is yet another demonstration of how Foxtel is seeking to evolve out of the traditional.

Something we have come to expect from the Foxtel Group is their leadership in sport content, which was delivered in abundance. With long-standing rights contracts in play across most major codes, they’ve committed to the long term with viewer experience remaining a top priority.

Movement towards sustainable media practices are becoming increasingly a greater need for publishers as we move into 2024. Our clients expect this from other vendors within their businesses and media will be no exception to that. While measurability is an important step in the right direction, what needs attention is how we reduce omissions and not simply seek to offset them. As an increasingly digital first business, a view of how Foxtel can create efficiencies within their tech infrastructure will drive longer term sustainable outcomes.

Toby Dewar

Rebecca McKiernan, head of digital, Frontier Australia

It was another outstanding upfront from the team at Foxtel! And the best part, they have listened to us, using our feedback to inform their updates.

The big announcement of the night was the launch of Hubbl, a transformative viewing experience for consumers. This will be one to watch, with limited information shared last night.

Their increased focus on using their first party data is arguably long overdue. With their new partnerships with Kantar and VideoAmp, Foxtel will be able to bring their data to life, enhancing targeting across our clients’ campaigns.

Another important topic in the industry is sustainability, and Foxtel came to the table, announcing that they are measuring the carbon impact of their campaigns and optimising supply chains accordingly. This is becoming increasingly important to agencies and clients and it is great to see our partners prioritising this as well.

Daniel Cutrone – Managing Partner – Avenue C

Foxtel Group hosted the 2024 Upfront at Cockatoo Island, bringing advertisers away from industry norms, and on a journey into the future of video streaming. In a carefully crafted presentation, Foxtel unveiled pivotal highlights and strategies from their wider sales team, boasting 4.7 million subscribers across the Foxtel Group and nearly 50% growth in digital revenue.

Foxtel Media announced some powerful moves that will be sure to send shockwaves through the advertising industry, as they announced their parting of ways with ThinkTV, firmly signalling the shift away from Linear TV as a primary focus for the company.

Foxtel did not shy away from addressing pressing industry concerns, from measurement challenges and economic pressures to the declining linear TV audience. They fearlessly tackled the very issues plaguing the industry today.

With Amplified Intelligence, Foxtel showcased how Binge could capture an impressive 83% stronger active attention compared to other BVOD platforms.

The team unveiled their ambitious strategy to capitalise on audience data, harnessing insights from over 1 million set-top boxes and 3.1 million digital customers. Their partnership with Videamp promised a ground-breaking solution for a comprehensive audience product across screens, a pioneering effort previously unexplored in the Australian market.

A significant emphasis was placed on Australian sports, with comprehensive coverage spanning Netball, PGA, F1, Supercars, MotoGP, UFC, NRL, and AFL, clearing up any misconceptions regarding Foxtel’s national game coverage. The average viewer was revealed to consume a staggering nine different sports, investing a total of nine hours per week.

In response to the overwhelming saturation of streaming services, with 66% of Australians feeling inundated and 92% yearning for a consolidated platform, Foxtel introduced HUBBL. This OTT product aims to be the central hub for home entertainment, integrating all free, pay TV, and streaming services into a single platform. This innovative approach not only ushers in a new era but also introduces a single impression-based digital currency, revolutionising measurement standards.

Foxtel not only lived up to the generated hype but reinvented themselves to emerge as the dynamic, premium, and transformative streaming business of the future.

Helen Kang, Clancy O’Hanlon, Rian Wisemantel, Rebecca Jacobsen, Nev Hasan, Jackson Forbes, Amy Johnson, Chris Daly, Amanda Laing, Mark Frain, Mitch McTaggart, Ali Hurbert-Burns, Annie Griffiths, Levi Guillory, Rachel Miller, Caitlin O’Meara, Dolly Herbert, Rebecca McCloy, Toby Dewar, Marty Medcraf and Patrick Delany

James Lever, group business director at Wavemaker Brisbane

On a cold and blustery night in Sydney, Foxtel Media boldly declared that the winds of change were afoot and that they were the captain to lead us into a new world of TV viewership, measurement, and access.

With over 3.1 million digital viewers and 1 million plugged-in set-top boxes for access, the core pillar of this will be delivering modern measurement through Kantar and VideoAmp to place their offering at the forefront of a digital-first approach to video buying. This will effectively put them on a course to compete with global digital players, while creating an easily accessible space for local networks to sell their inventory through their new Hubbl product. They have been an aggregator of content, but they will soon become an aggregator of content providers.

With a live, local, and international content slate that taps into the best of sport and entertainment, this won’t come cheap, and as an advertiser, access to the bountiful eyeballs that will follow will need to be effectively benchmarked in an increasingly fragmented environment.



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