Presto boss: ‘Netflix in Australia will be an inferior product’

L:R Shaun James, Eric Kearley, Damian Keogh, Kylie Merritt

L:R Shaun James, Eric Kearley, Damian Keogh, Kylie Merritt

The head of Foxtel’s movie streaming service Presto has told a forum Netflix will be an “inferior” service in the Australian market, while also dismissing the threat of Freeview Plus and the StreamCo joint venture.

Speaking at Thursday’s ASTRA conference Shaun James, director of Presto and video on demand at Foxtel, said Netflix has “phenomenal brand awareness in this market” admitting “we have got in terms of raising Presto’s brand awareness”.

But he added: “It will be an inferior local service because of the rights that currently sit with Seven, Nine, Ten, ABC, Foxtel and, you know, they have looked at this market and they’ve seen that.”

Asked about the lack of advertising for Presto on Foxtel James said there were no plans to ramp up its presence there, whilst admitting that would be a major boon for the joint Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax streaming play StreamCo, but added: “But I think the point I’d make there is Foxtel grew at 5.6 per cent last year in terms of sub numbers and our profit grew.

“Those two businesses (Nine and Fairfax) have got well-documented issues, so I think it is defensive and I think they are looking at safety in numbers. And the other thing I’d say to that is that we are still yet to understand what the content offering is, what the pricing is, what the platform is.

“We have seen a lot of announcements about, you know, tens of millions of dollars and executive appointments and we’re still waiting to find out what this thing actually is.

“We are up and running and we are going to go really aggressively.”

James made the remarks on a panel with Telstra head of IPTV Eric Kearley and CEO of Hoyts Damian Keogh. Moderator Kylie Merritt, digital director for the Australian News Channel, asked the panel about this week’s Freeview Plus launch.

“Are all the free to air broadcasters signed on?,” said James, of the new joint HbbTV play between ABC, Seven, Nine, Ten and SBS . “Because that would be the first thing.”

When asked Hoyts CEO Keogh said: “I don’t think I can answer that because I haven’t watched free-to-air TV for about 15 years.”

Nic Christensen 


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.