Media buyers on Foxtel’s upcoming content slate for 2022 and its new ad platform

Media buyers dissect Foxtel’s upcoming content slate for 2022, which saw its key tentpole formats return to screens, while some formats were back after a break, others are getting a major shakeup. Here, Mumbrella speaks to a range of media buyers about whether the elaborate reveal of what’s in store meets the mark when it comes to the number one focus - high rating content.

“There was a raft of new and returning programming showcased at Foxtel’s Upfronts, both locally produced content and global hits,” says UM Sydney trading director, Lorena Chiarella. “With 7 of their top 20 shows being Foxtel Originals, it’s clear that their investment into original programming has been well placed. I liked that they put a spotlight on their Lifestyle content – whether it will be consumed via the traditional Foxtel set top box or through one of their streaming platforms, it’s sure to bring in a diverse audience, adding to their four million plus subscribers.”

Carat chief investment officer, Craig Cooper says he thought Foxtel did a brilliant job at showcasing their portfolio of platforms in the session yesterday.

“Foxtel as a broadcaster has never had any issues with sourcing quality content, either locally or globally. It wouldn’t be possible to highlight all their content in an hour, but I think the balance was right between details on their technology, advertising experience and data,” he says.

Carat’s Cooper adds that Foxtel’s growth on documentaries is impressive. “The 130% growth in Fox Doco’s is impressive but it can sometimes be misleading to measure non apples to apples success metrics (ie Docos vs Arts). Regardless, Foxtel have proven there is audience demand and hunger for a documentary style solo channel and this should hopefully result in an increase in locally produced documentaries.”

Mindshare national head of investment, Paige Wheaton notes that she expected a slate of premium local and international drama as well as key tentpole moments. “They’ve had great success with the likes of The Undoing and I can see their new local content production of Love Me following suit. Foxtel continues to showcase their domination of lifestyle programming and to build on this with new news such as Selling in the City and The Repair Shop was a refreshing approach to 2022,” she comments.

OMD Brisbane group trading director, James Lucas agrees, and says Foxtel’s content slate for 2022 continues to be well-rounded, covering a variety of genres that that will no doubt appeal to their subscriber base. “I see this as Foxtel staying true to their ambition of balancing both consumer and advertiser needs.”

Lucas adds: “With scripted content seeing a 6.8% growth this year, I would hope to see Foxtel continue to support Australian drama and original commissions, something that wasn’t a heavy focus in the 2022 showcase presentation.”

Selling Houses returns in 2022

Spark Foundry national group activation director, Sue-Ellen Osborn adds that Foxtel had a good balance of returning popular content, plus new and exciting programs.

“As always, Foxtel continues to set the highest bar when it comes to quality Australian drama and I am looking forward to the return of Upright and new dramas: Love Me and The Twelve. Foxtel’s strength is the depth and breadth of content they offer across multiple genres, including Sport, Drama and Lifestyle – and it is clear this will continue into 2022,” she says.

Osborn adds: “Foxtel’s strategy has always been to offer a broad and diverse range of content and Foxtel’s focus on unscripted content such as Fox Docos and Foxtel Arts is another way to strengthen this strategy. Diversity in content translates to diversity in audiences, which helps Foxtel build a scalable audience that is highly engaged.”

UM’s Chiarella admits that diversity in audience is key for Foxtel. “Their traditional product of the set-top box product is getting ‘older’ in skew, so it is necessary for them to attract younger audiences across their streaming services. The revamping of Foxtel Arts to FoxDocos has been a great success and no doubt they will use these learnings across other channels to increase viewership of younger audiences across their ecosystem.”

Meanwhile, Mindshare’’s Wheaton says Fox Docos is another opportunity for Foxtel to showcase the depth and breadth of Foxtel’s content slate and through the consumption of content via other channels. “We can see how human experience has become a genre resonating with broad audiences.

“Growing engagement with younger audiences allows for Foxtel to both introduce and intercept and the diversity of accessing broader demographics will drive longer term success.”

Grand Designs Australia also returns to screens in 2022

OMD Brisbane’s Lucas feels the same, but says it’s all about commercial sustainable growth. “The continued increase in popularity of documentaries doesn’t come as a surprise and mirrors the demand that podcasts have seen. However, it does need to be noted that the increases experienced this year are coming off a very low base. Commercial sustainable growth will be key moving forward which will require Foxtel to identify, at pace, the stories and subjects that will resonate with Australians at scale.”

While Foxtel has grown registered users to four million, it’s significantly behind streaming giant Netflix. Buyers argue though that this is not a major issue for the platform.

“Foxtel’s registered users total is lower than Netflix, this does not concern me. It is still four million engaged, high-value consumers – many of whom I might not be able to easily reach elsewhere. Foxtel’s offering compared to other streaming services is incredibly strong, their content is unique and their audiences are engaged,” Spark Foundry’s Osborn states.

Carat’s Cooper adds: “Other than being successful streaming platforms, there are vast differences between Netflix and Foxtel streaming apps. Netflix doesn’t have any live sports rights, any ‘first run’ global production affiliation deals nor any client advertising opportunities. There is no doubt that Netflix has built a significant audience globally, through its large back catalogue and original series content, but Foxtel has been ingrained in Australia for a quarter of a century. Given Foxtel’s evolution from a set top box to a scaled streaming company, my prediction is we will continue to have Foxtel in our lives for many years to come.”

The buyer’s weigh in on how they felt about Foxtel’s new ad experimentation platform, Foxtest

Mindshare’s Wheaton says that while they may be grouped together as content providers, Foxtel and Netflix (and other SVOD services) each play in their own unique ecosystems.

“Foxtel is in a critical tipping point of their transformation journey, to an IP led product that can accessibly compete with the broader SVOD category. Beyond their product, Foxtel’s ability to generate revenue is greatly diversified to the existing streaming services in this market with a hybrid focus of customer subscription and advertisers.”

OMD Brisbane’s Lucas adds that Foxtel’s business strategy to move away from being a single brand group to a suite of genre led streaming services appears to be working and provides a unique differentiator in market. “The proof is in the company’s FY21 financial statements. Continuing this momentum will now be key, which they hope to do in the launch of Flash,” he explains.

On top of this, most other platforms are ad free, we ask the buyers if they see this impacting the platform’s appeal.

Carat’s Cooper explains: “Hearing from Randy Freer was a really interesting part of the showcase. His success at the helm of Hulu is going to pay dividends, and with the eventual launch of a dual revenue model for Foxtel streaming (advertising plus subscriptions) his experience will hopefully guide Foxtel through this important transition. Randy spoke of putting the customer first and delivering them options and value, and this sounds like Foxtel may be able to get this balance just right.”

Spark Foundry’s Osborn says that Foxtel reaches many people who have specifically paid and chosen to watch their content. “Viewers do that knowing that Foxtel also carries advertising. Other paid streaming services may be ad-free but Foxtel’s depth, high quality, and unique content means that it is still a highly appealing platform for consumers. Importantly, it is a platform I can use to connect my clients to consumers in an engaging environment,” she says.

During its upfront, Foxtel also announced the launch of ad experimentation platform Foxtest. Representing an investment of $3 million, Foxtest will see Foxtel Media partner with brands to run experiments across advertising content, experience, and data.

Foxtel Media will open the Foxtest experimentation platform to ten new brands and their agencies, with innovations beginning to be trialed in 2022.

OMD’s Lucas says of the advertising platform: “A number of advertisers would be certainly interested in understanding this initiative more with the goal of unlocking the benefits of learnings around content, ad experience and data. With only 10 spaces available, I imagine Foxtel will want to partner with advertisers operating in a partnership mindset, with research projects looking to answer mutually beneficial challenges.”

Mindshare’s Wheaton agrees with Lucas. “Foxtel has listened to the market which has emphasised the importance of delivering results. Brands that have innovation budgets to test and learn will greatly benefit from this opportunity. Foxtel has harmonised the balance of removing the red tape that often prohibits meaningful test opportunities with ensuring commercial viability and their focus across Content, Ad Experience and Data – it’s spot on. Limiting it’s uptake to fewer brands will ensure that the right resource and inventory can support successful outcomes.”

Carat’s Cooper admits he loves the idea of Foxtest. “I love the concept, and it’s by far the simplest and most tangible way of utilising data & technology to deliver on specific client outcomes. There will be a lot of interest in this area from our clients, and we look forward to discussing it further with Foxtel.”

On Foxtel, 2022 will see the action kick off with Fox Cricket’s coverage of the Ashes with every ball to be shown live and ad-free during play in 4K Ultra High Definition

In sport, after another challenging and unpredictable year, 2022 will see the action kick off with Fox Cricket’s coverage of the Ashes with every ball to be shown live and ad-free during play in 4K Ultra High Definition. As a key broadcast partner of ESPN in Australia, Foxtel is bringing all NBL games and select NBA games to fans across the summer along with every match of the WNBL for the first time.

March will see the return of NRL and AFL with every game of both regular seasons to be broadcast live and ad break free during play.

In addition, Foxtel will showcase every match of the newly acquired Super Netball Season along with Australian International Tests and Quad Series. There will also be Supercars and Formula 1 events along with Main Event Boxing, Golf, AFLW, NFL, Surfing, as part of its sport offering.

UM’s Chiarella says that Kayo is an “incredibly strong” product offering. “Kayo reaches a very engaged, passionate, hard-to-reach audience with solid integration opportunities across a raft of sports. During the Showcase, it was noted that 70% of viewing is on Connected TV meaning the content and advertising is being viewed in an impactful way (on the big screen) in co-viewing environments,” she notes.

“For consumers, Sport has become more and more fragmented, especially football (soccer) which is now across Foxtel, Stan Sport, Paramount+, Optus Sport. To ensure consistency in subscribers, it’s important for Foxtel to maintain both depth and breadth in the sport arena. It’s great to see that they are focusing on women’s sport with an array of sports on offer, including every match of the Women’s BBL being shown on Foxtel.”

OMD Brisbane’s Lucas explains that while the loss of football will surely benefit Ten (and ViacomCBS streaming platform Paramount+), it will provide the opportunity for Foxtel to focus on developing and growing other codes including grassroots leagues.

“Foxtel broadcasting every single WBBL match is welcome news. The Netball Australian partnership poses further potential to expand the popularity of the sport and bring in new fans via Foxtel’s engaging platforms,” he says. “The fact that 80% of Kayo’s customers return on a weekly basis demonstrates that viewers are engaged with the platform and the content. As media metrics continue to better evolve into attention led metrics, understanding and tapping in to this engagement with viewers will be key for brands to cut through the clutter.”

Mindshare’s Wheaton believes that sport is a core pillar of strength for the Foxtel content slate. “The ongoing success of Kayo showcases the payoff of answering a true consumer need. Despite the fragmentation of sporting rights throughout several streaming services in our market, Foxtel cleverly showcased areas in which they thrive, such as their Cricket partnership and the ability for advertisers to play in a sporting space which can be limited to ad free platforms. The opportunity to deliver a cross platform campaign with a future of addressability is appealing for our clients.”

Meanwhile, as for the overall consensus of how Foxtel’s presentation went, the buyers finish off with their lasting impressions.

Carat’s Cooper weighs in: “The integration of the wider Foxtel sales team in the presentation was such a unique way of engaging with the virtual audience. They included some key Foxtel Media employees to present, who are working tirelessly day to day with our teams to deliver our clients’ objectives – well done for the diversity of voices in the showcase.”

Spark Foundry’s Osborn adds: “I am most excited about 100% addressability. It is not the first time Foxtel have made this announcement in an upfront, but it is the first time I can clearly see the path to it – thanks to the launch of iQ5 and their strength in streaming.”

OMD Brisbane’s Lucas finishes off by noting that Foxtel’s overall showcase was slick, balanced and well-paced – typical of previous Foxtel presentations he’s seen in the past.

“The absence of an update on Foxtel’s data product or data roadmap in general is a contrast to what we have seen from the free-to-air networks and will hopefully be a topic of focus in the months ahead,” he says. “While Foxtel did not address their diversity and inclusion charter in the same direct manner as the other networks, it is refreshing to see Foxtel already actively working in this space. This is evident in their continued focus of supporting women’s sport and the Acknowledgement of Country that often runs before Australian produced content.”


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