As Nine Entertainment’s Stan, struggles to get new content deals over the line, archrival Foxtel which is fast becoming a technology Company that delivers content, has restructured, cutting costs, securing new content deals while expanding their management team to take on a new wave of International competitors.
They have also expanded their technology capability as consumers move to streaming from devices Vs set top boxes.
The repositioning of Foxtel has been a long time coming with the News Corp owned business reporting their lowest churn in 2 years as consumers hibernate due to COVID-19.
According to a staff memo, the Company is now in a strong position to take advantage of a move to streamed content over free to air TV by delivering content without the need for a set top box which has in the past been a major cost item for the Group.
While a Foxtel customer with a box can watch content on a TV, mobile tablet or PC, a customer accessing the Foxtel Go service can now get access to the full Foxtel network on a mobile device which can be streamed to a TV via a smartphone or tablet if needed, this has proved popular with consumers wanting news and sport while having access to entertainment content and music.
CEO Patrick Delany said We have repositioned Foxtel as Australia’s premium aggregator of content and entertainment services “all in one place” and made progress in maintaining Foxtel’s customer base with the lowest retail churn in 2-years. For those that want Foxtel without a set-top, we have Foxtel Now. And customer engagement with our entertainment and sports content has been a highlight in recent months”.
The repositioning of Foxtel has seen up to 200 people retrenched as unproductive channels, dropped and new services introduced.
Between the Kayo and Binge streaming services, Foxtel now has over 800,000 subscribers which while not in the same league as Netflix the combination of the two million Foxtel subscribers and the 800,000 streaming subscribers places Foxtel in a strong position to compete up against the International Companies and significantly ahead of their local competitors.
Another benefit for Foxtel is that Netflix is now integrated into their set top box offering with new services tipped to be announced shortly for Samsung customers who could see all Foxtel services integrated into Samsung TV’s Galaxy Smartphones and tablets & PC’s.
By creating a leaner, more efficient company and right-sizing their cost-base and by doing smart content deals in entertainment and sports Foxtel appears to be in a very strong position to compete, as they not only have access to News Corp publications to market their services they can co-partner with competitors such as Netflix and possibly Disney in the future to take a cut of the revenue stream.
This week Foxtel who is today a technology Company delivering content, announced an expansion of their management team.
The move to introduce an expanded operational team started back in February when the Company announced that all technology and platforms in the Group would come together in one unit under the leadership of Les Wigan as Chief Technology and Operations Officer.
Finance, Data, and People is now managed by James Marsh, Chief Financial Officer and Sally Connell, Chief People Officer while other areas such as Foxtel Media under Mark Frain are well established as part of the Foxtel Group.
Key roles announced this week include:
Kieren Cooney – Chief Customer, Marketing and Sales Officer, Foxtel.
Kieren will have end-to-end responsibility for all customer interactions including service and loyalty, marketing and publicity, creative services as well as residential and commercial sales.
Lesley Portwain’s customer service division will become part of this Group to enable us to leverage into providing the best possible customer experience and service.
The group’s shared objective is to maximize revenue from the loyal premium customers of the Foxtel branded business.
Kieran will have accountability for management and delivery of this vital revenue to the Group.
Julian Ogrin continues as CEO, Kayo and BINGE responsible for the Group’s new streaming business.
It is his responsibility to rapidly grow these streaming businesses and maximize their contribution to Group EBITDA. To ensure Kayo and BINGE develop as distinctive customer propositions, each business will have a leader responsible for brand and growth momentum.
New appointments in Julian’s team are Ant Hearne as Executive Director, Kayo – our sports streaming service; and Alison Hurbert-Burns as Executive Director, BINGE.
It was also revealed that Amanda Laing’s role has been broadened as Chief Commercial and Content Officer.
Amanda will take Group-wide responsibility for entertainment and sports including our Entertainment and Sports divisions (including Fox Sports) together with wholesale partnerships and the legal services team led by Chief General Counsel, Lynette Ireland, given the commercial importance of deal-making excellence. Lynette will continue to work to me on Group Compliance, regulatory and shareholder matters.
These changes recognise that entertainment and sports content is core to everything we do and that we are now “leveraging” Group assets across the Foxtel, Kayo and BINGE businesses to reach more subscribers than ever before and make forward-looking investment and operational decisions.
Foxtel also announced that Peter Campbell is moving from Fox Sports to a new role within Product & Strategy working with Alice and the team, as Executive Director, Transformation Implementation.
Delany said, “This role builds on Peter’s successful track-record of transformation and delivery at Fox Sports, by providing additional executive leadership to drive the next phase of performance improvement across the Foxtel Group, including the introduction of new ways of working”.
Also announced is that Steve Crawley has been promoted to the role of Executive Director, Fox Sports.
Steve will lead Fox Sports and its brands nationwide including Fox Footy Melbourne.
He will be responsible for the running of Fox Sports including all sports production, programming, budgets, logistics, and of course editorial for Fox Sports channels and digital – which have experienced record ratings for the NRL and AFL 2020 season.
Brian Walsh takes on a Group-wide responsibility, leading a newly created Foxtel Originals division, spearheading all local production commissions across Australian drama, lifestyle, factual and entertainment production.
Delany said that “This new role highlights the increasing importance of our Australian-produced entertainment content in the Group’s strategy, building on the success of series such as Wentworth, Upright, Gogglebox, Selling Houses Australia and Real Housewives of Melbourne.
In addition, Rebecca McCloy, Director of Acquisitions and Sports Partnerships and Stephen Baldwin, Director of Entertainment, will report to Amanda.
These organisational changes will be effective from this Friday and are designed to unlock the Foxtel Group’s full potential. I appreciate these changes are significant, and in some areas, there is additional detail to work through in the coming weeks, which we will keep you up to date with through your individual teams.