HBO Continues Australian Expansion With New Pay TV Output Deal

HBO Logo - H 2012

HBO Logo - H 2012

Under an exclusive deal, paynet Foxtel promises to air first run HBO dramas within days of their US premieres.

SYDNEY -- Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s upcoming police drama True Detective will be one of the first HBO properties to air directly on Foxtel under a new output deal inked between the premium drama provider and the Australian pay TV network.

The deal expands HBO’s current arrangements down under. HBO does not have branded channel airing in this territory. Local premium drama channel, showcase, airs the bulk of HBO’s shows. Under the new deal, first-run HBO content and HBO library content, including new HBO series, miniseries, comedy specials and documentaries will air exclusively on Foxtel.

The deal secures major content for Foxtel as it restructures its movie and premium drama channel supply deals. Foxtel announced earlier this month that it will acquire the assets of movie provider the Premium Movie Partnership from PMP’s owners, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal and Paramount.The movie supply contracts and channels previously managed by PMP, including Showtime and Showcase-branded channels, will be owned and managed in house at Foxtel from Oct. 31.

The new deal means that new seasons of programs liek Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, True BloodTreme, Veep and Eastbound & Down will now air in Australia as soon as one day after their U.S. premiere, according to Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein.

“HBO content will premiere on Foxtel’s premium drama channel, showcase, which will become Australia’s ‘home of HBO’. In addition, subscribers will be able to rediscover a library of classic HBO shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under on our newest channel,  SoHo which successfully launched to all subscribers in August with the premiere of HBO’s latest hit series, The Newsroom,” Freudenstein said.

“We believe Foxtel will be a terrific partner and we look forward to working with them to bring the latest and greatest HBO entertainment to audiences in Australia,” added Simon Sutton, president, HBO International and content distribution.

The deal includes the right to deliver HBO content via linear channels and on demand on Foxtel’s iQ set-top-box and Internet streaming services such as Foxtel on Xbox 360.

HBO also owns a 15.7 percent stake in Australian online streaming service Quickflix, which it acquired in February.

The move also aims to stem the tide of viewers that are downloading buzz shows. Showcase this year fast-tracked the airdate of season two of Game of Thrones to within a week of its U.S. premiere, after delaying season one several months. But ratings seemed to be lower than expected until it was revealed by blog Torrent Freak in May that Game of Thrones was the most illegally-downloaded program in the world, with Australians at the top of the list of pirates. About 10.1 percent of illegal downloads of the show came from Australia, Torrent Freak said.