A Pay TV battle is set to break out in Australia as free to air TV stations, carriers including Telstra, Foxtel and Cinema chains such as Hoyts, move to sell content for delivery to devices including TVs, tablets and smartphones which are now being used by consumers to watch content according to new research.In an effort to sell more movies to existing customers who are already being slugged over $100 for premium TV services Foxtel, has moved to bring the Showcase and Showtime movie channels in-house after buying out some of the assets off the channel’s owners, Premium Movie Partnership.
At the same time Hoyts is set to launch a new multi-platform film and TV internet streaming service next year which will compete up against new offerings from both Google and Apple, who are both vying to get access to first run content for the Australian market.
The launch of the all-you-can-eat Hoyts Stream service will put the major cinema chain in direct competition with several local players at a time when TV manufacturers are moving to deliver larger TV screens and expanded Smart TV services.
Research released yesterday reveal Australians are embracing online-delivered TV in a major way, with 5.2 million – or 43 percent of the online adult population – estimated to have watched professionally produced videos online in the six months to June 30, according to a survey by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Catch-up TV offerings, led by the ABC’s iView service, are the dominant use of online video, ACMA says.
IView is free, but the report also says Aussies are showing a high level of willingness to pay for some online video. Half of those intending to access an online video service in the next six months – which ACMA equates to 2.8 million people – said they were prepared to pay for such access.
However ACMA says the viewing of high-quality professional Internet TV services, also known as Internet protocol television, or IPTV, is less popular, with only five per cent of Internet-connected households taking it up.
(IPTV would presumably not include Foxtel, which is cable-delivered; but would include Telstra T-box, Fetch TV, Sony (Google) TV and other Net-delivered services.)
Among the online services that Australians are watching, full-length television programs (61 per cent) and films (32 per cent) were the most popular.
Adoption of these services has been encouraged by the increasing amount of content available online – generally in catch-up services – along with faster Internet speeds and what ACMA claims are “more affordable” data costs.
Foxtel has been talking with both Telstra and News Ltd about the expansion of their offerings with some analysts tipping the pay TV company will be forced to lower costs as more players move into the pay TV market.
The deal with PMP to take over control of the movie channels comes after Foxtel has struggled to get engagement with customers to pay for additional movie content.
PMP, which is owned by Universal, Sony Columbia and Twentieth Century Fox, will finalise their deal with Foxtel this month.
Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein told the Australian newspaper it was a “very sensible transaction for Foxtel. It drives synergies and savings that will enable us to offer a better movie and premium drama product to our subscribers. Bringing the PMP channels in-house will perfectly complement our recently launched drama channel SoHo.”
After the transaction, the current PMP channels will be directly produced and managed by Foxtel. The majority of PMP staff will be offered positions at Foxtel.
In other moves, Ice TV is shopping around for content for a new digital media box which the Company plans to launch in March of next year. The Company claims to have deals with Harvey Norman, Bing Lee and other retailers to sell the box that will include the Ice TV Electronic Program Guide.
Currently Ice TV sells Humax, Topfield and Beyondwiz PVRs directly via their online store. It is not known how Ice TV will position the box up against their existing partners.