Foxtel Chase Second Rate Content After Losing UK Premier League
Struggling pay TV operator Foxtel, who last year lost the rights to Premier League Soccer is set to secure the rights to delayed telecasts of English club games.
Among the clubs that Foxtel are dealing directly with are Manchester Utd’s, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea as part of the deal.
Foxtel will be given the rights to show tape-delayed coverage of games, normally the day after the matches are screened live.
The move is seen as “desperation” claims one observer after Optus announced late last year that they had snatched the rights from under the noses of Foxtel management, to show English Premier League games for $63 million per season.
There is no certainty that the move will work.
Fairfax said that Optus’ expensive swoop put Foxtel at risk of losing some of the EPL fans who had subscribed to the cable and satellite service predominantly to get the sport.
Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh, who declined to comment on whether the company was interested in the EPL club channels, said only a “pretty small number” of soccer fans were likely to ditch Foxtel altogether.
“I think there’ll be some hard-core fans that’ll be pretty upset about not having it and they’ll go and they’ll buy from Optus. I suspect most of those hard-core fans will keep buying Foxtel as well,” he said.
Foxtel began its fightback against Optus in late March, announcing that it would broadcast European football direct through its cable and satellite service.
Foxtel also faces competition for audiences in non-sports content from subscription video-on-demand services led by Netflix and also including Stan, owned by Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax Media, owner of The Australian Financial Review.
Mr Tonagh told Fairfax Media that he did not believe that Foxtel, which secured key rights to the NRL and AFL in blockbuster deals last year, would face competition for those rights from Netflix when those contracts expired.
“I have a personal view that Netflix have been very focused in what they do … so I’d be surprised if Netflix bought sporting rights, they don’t do live streaming.”
He added: “The telcos already are a threat, obviously Telstra paid a lot of money [for the AFL digital rights], Optus paid a lot of money for the EPL, they are already spending money on those things.
“There’s no doubt it will be a competitive market. I’m not trying to downplay the competition. I just think [Netflix founder and chief executive] Reed Hastings has done a great job of keeping Netflix focused and I’d be surprised if he was doing that in five years’ time.”
Bankers are working on a merger of Foxtel, which is owned by News Corp and Telstra, with News Corp’s Fox Sports before a potential $8 billion float.
“From our perspective we have contracts with [Fox Sports], it means we get all their sport anyway … it doesn’t make a lot of difference,” Mr Tonagh said. “We work effectively together.”