Presto talking up platform offering as streaming wars continue to heat up



The boss of the soon to be beefed up Presto streaming service Shaun James believes the service’s platform and speed to market will be a key differentiator for it in the upcoming streaming battle.

Yesterday it was confirmed Seven West Media had joined Foxtel in the streaming service, which will now add TV content to its existing movie offering as it looks to establish its place in the market with Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax’s joint venture Stan and US behemoth Netflix coming early next year. 

However, James admitted there would have to be a “balance” for the service to avoid cannibalising the existing pay-TV customers on Foxtel, and eroding audiences for major franchises on the biggest free-to-air TV network Seven.

He also said there would be a big marketing campaign to accompany the launch of the new joint venture, which is jointly owned by Foxtel and Seven, but admitted it was too early to say which of their marketing agencies would work on it. Seven uses Cato Brand Partners and MEC, whilst Foxtel has Clemenger BBDO Sydney and CHE Proximity for creative, having recently shifted its media to Mindshare from Mediacom.

The service will feature both domestic and international content, and James did not rule out piking up some rights for shows which have already been announced for rival Stan, saying: “People will be looking at does this service have program X or Y, but we all have to get strong underpinning platform which people will come back to for their content.”

He said the ambition for the next year was to make sure the platform had “strong market share” adding that would allow them to scale the service, and acquire more content.

“I think the key differentiator in this market is speed, being nimble and able to try stuff,” said James.  “But we think as much as being quick we need to have the right user interface. We’ve been up and running for some time and we know what makes the platform tick.”

No price point has yet been announced for the new Presto, with the current offering weighing in at $9.99 per month. However, the service will not be offered in high definition initially, with a Foxtel spokesman saying: “Our streaming quality is already of an exceptionally high standard and formatted for fast delivery on Australian networks and supported devices; but that said, HD is definitely on our roadmap.”

James was also cagey as to whether the service, which will be available on a number of devices including Google’s Chromecast and tablets and desktop computers, will be offered as part of the much vaunted Foxtel ‘triple-play’, a bundle of TV, home phone and broadband set to be released next year.

“We will see a lot of things in the future it’s ver difficult to say at this point in time,” he admitted. “What we’re seeing here is Foxtel offering new ways of accessing the content for consumers, through a spectrum of devices and devices a progressive and positive way to approach the business as models are changing rapidly.”

He would also not share the subscriber numbers for the service, which were rumoured to be very low after launching and the catalyst for the service halving its pricing in August.

However, he did say: “We’re seeing the usage of existing subscribers far exceed what had been forecast. We were expecting people to average one movie per week, but we’re seeing people watching six movies per week.”

Alex Hayes


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