Streamotion’s CEO on whether Kayo will ever be ad-free and competing against Netflix

Streamotion CEO, Julian Ogrin speaks to Mumbrella's Calum Jaspan about an oversaturated subscription market, Kayo's success during COVID and whether there are plans for an integrated offering or the removal of ads from live sports streaming.

Streamotion’s Julian Ogrin appears to be pretty happy with how things have shaped up for both Kayo and Binge over the past year.

As CEO of both platforms, Ogrin said that like most e-commerce businesses, recent conditions have been slightly favourable over the past 12 months, with both platforms seeing considerable growth as a result, despite increasing competition.

With the country’s two most populous cities remaining in lockdown, both of which look set to continue into September, Kayo has reported to Mumbrella that its subscriber base has reached 1.079 million, up from 465,000 last June.

While Ogrin said that building a sustainable brand and business is what ultimately drives success, he does admit that timing has played into bringing in some of the subscriber base.

“Like any startup, it takes a good two years to build trust. It just so happened that at a time when we were building our brand awareness, building our net promoter score to the point that the word of mouth was spreading around the strength of Kayo, those elements of building trust and consideration of your brand timed nicely with some of the COVID elements that actually played into the favour of Kayo.”

Ogrin said that while he believes Kayo was always going to reach its targets, however with the current conditions it “probably just got there a little quicker”.

“We were certainly aided by the fact that having empty stadiums at times last year, and having people in lockdowns during a winter code season, which is the strongest season on the calendar absolutely would have helped.”

Sports without the ads?

When asked if there would ever be any consideration for an ad-free experience on Kayo, with such a significant amount of paying customers, he said that the nature of sports coverage prove them to be very complimentary to ad-breaks.

“I think for us, sport is the unique proposition to entertainment because firstly, you’ve got pre-game, half-time, quarter-time. There’s a lot of downtime. It’s easy to say ‘let’s have an ad-free opportunity’, but in those downtime periods there’s a lot of void. So the ad model plays very well to sport.

“If you think about sports since the beginning of television, it has been designed for television, for advertising anyway. So by nature it has those opportunities.”

In what is increasingly becoming a saturated market, with the likes of Stan Sport, Optus Sport, Paramount+ and Amazon Prime among others all competing in sports broadcasting, Ogrin still thinks that Kayo’s diverse offering maintains it as the “first choice for sport”.

“Our brand strategy ‘Sport Lives Here’ really plays on the convenience which customers are ultimately looking for. Whether it be the convenience of Uber Eats, Uber and all those sort of things, we have the convenience of having over 50 sports under one roof. There isn’t a comparable product or solution for a dedicated sports streaming product anywhere in the world.”


Streamotion’s Julian Ogrin

While Kayo maintains the deepest and most diverse offering for sports, recent years have seen soccer in particular move away from Foxtel brands. In recent years, the English Premier League has found a new home at Optus, while Stan Sport recently bolstered its content offering, striking a deal with UEFA to air the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League. Finally, ViacomCBS’ new platform, Paramout+ this year became the home of the sport locally, with deals to air the A-League, W-League, Socceroos and Matildas fixtures.

“I wouldn’t say we shy away from, or have moved away from codes,” said Ogrin. “We’ve always been working on the premise that we will have other niche sporting providers that we will compete with. Optus Sport was around before us, Stan Sports coming in a bit later. But no one has that 50 sports convenience, so the proposition is completely different”.

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“We will always look at sporting opportunities. If it’s a great soccer opportunity, whatever it may be, we’ll look at it if it fits our brand.”

Via beIN SPORTS/ESPN, Kayo does still have coverage of other international leagues, including coverage of Ligue 1, Major League Soccer, Serie A, LaLiga and the Bundesliga.

Betting on Binge

For the other half of the Streamotion business, Ogrin said that things are “slightly more crowded”, with Netflix having “paved the expectations” for what a good entertainment experience should be.

Binge launched in May 2020, with 80,000 subscribers signed on by the end of the following month, and Ogrin says thanks to exclusive content such as The Undoing, Mare of Easttown, the Friends Reunion and Zack Snyder’s Justice League, it now has in excess of 820,000 paying customers.

“We see that the Binge content portfolio really compliments the Netflix portfolio, and we see that those two are the couple that give you nearly everything you need.”

When asked if there was any potential for a future packaging of the two products, he affirmed that they will remain singular brand propositions for the foreseeable future.

“Foxtel already do it today. Kayo is for sports fans and Binge is for entertainment fans, it’s very clear and succinct and you know what you’re getting.”

Binge joined the subscription marketplace in 2020

Ogrin continued to look ahead to opportunities the streaming sector can offer the Foxtel Group, stating that streaming platforms are currently present in around 62% of Australian households, matched with 25-30% with Foxtel set-top boxes.

“It’s (streaming) forecast to grow to 85% by 2023. So there’s almost triple the amount of opportunity beyond the core Foxtel retail proposition.”

Looking ahead, beyond the winter code season, he said that Kayo’s summer schedule is set to offer a bumper cricket offering, with the IPL, T20 World Cup, Women’s international matches, a new format for the Big Bash League, and The Ashes Test Series.

“I would say if you’re a cricket fan, you could probably quite comfortably say it could be the best summer of cricket ever.”

Before that, however, with Kayo’s figures reporting 450,000 accounts watching the AFL weekly, at an average of three games each, and 350,000 watching the NRL, the finals series’ for both codes could not come at a better time for the platform with fans from both Melbourne and Sydney set to be watching from their living rooms.


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