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Australian pay TV and streaming giant Foxtel Group, which is majority-owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, is bullish about its streaming upside and sees itself as a disruptor now, management said during a strategy day for analysts Thursday.
“Our emphasis on growth through streaming, through improved compelling interfaces, and on securing long-term valuable sports and entertainment rights has put the company on a distinctly upward trajectory,” News Corp CEO Robert Thomson said during the event, which was streamed for investors. “The business is burgeoning.”
Foxtel CEO Patrick Delaney said that launching “disruptive” new single-genre streaming products has allowed the company to target new subscribers beyond traditional pay TV users, adding that more streaming launches would come over time. “We are now the disruptor of the Australian media industry,” he argued.
Since the 2018 merger of Fox Sports Australia with Foxtel, News Corp has owned a 65 percent stake in the company, with telecom firm Telstra holding the rest.
Thomson said that since then Foxtel has “transformed the business” and created “Australia’s most dynamic streaming company.” He added that “the surge in streaming is successfully repurposing and monetizing existing rights” and reaching customers “we previously couldn’t reach through cable or satellite, or people that maybe couldn’t afford Foxtel.”
And he said: “We have decisively debunked the myth that only a small proportion of the Australian population will pay for programming.” Thomson’s conclusion: “There is a new narrative at Foxtel: It is a story of rejuvenation, of resurgence and of renaissance.”
Delaney touted the firm’s focused streaming services, noting that sports streamer Kayo Sports had around 1.1 million subscribers as of the end of June, and entertainment service Binge, which serves up films and TV series, had about 830,000 users. He also touted soon-to-launch live and on-demand “news aggregation service” Flash.
Overall, Foxtel has 4 million total subscribers and wants to grow that to 5 million-plus over three years, Delaney said.
Amanda Laing, chief commercial and content officer, highlighted the Hollywood and broader entertainment industry relationships of the company, saying: “Foxtel is the Australian partner of choice for studios and sports.”
She also touted the importance of offering drama series, including The Walking Dead, Succession and the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon. Laing then interviewed Hugo Weaving and Heather Mitchell, who star in modern love-themed miniseries Love Me, which is set to air in 2022. Asked about Foxtel’s strategy of offering programming from Hollywood and other parts of the world, while also telling Australian stories, Weaving said that often the view is that “everything’s got to point to the States; everything’s got to be sort of Mid-Atlantic,” but he felt strongly about celebrating local stories. “Those are the stories we need to tell,” he said. “We need to keep on prioritizing our own culture.”
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