After months of lobbying the Seven Network to join its pay TV service, Foxtel will finally be able to offer its subscribers access to channel Seven after the two companies announced a partnership today that will see Foxtel retransmit Seven programs – which is unusual since Seven has been preparing to launch its TiVo digital video recorder for some time.
Media analysts have been concerned that Seven was losing significant viewing traffic due to its failure to cut a deal with Foxtel, as research shows that over 1 million households in Australia now have Foxtel with up to 80 per cent of these using their Foxtel box as a means to access and record free-to-air TV.
The failure of Seven to deliver Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) content to Foxtel was a major problem for consumers.
In addition, consumers who used the Foxtel EPG to record Seven network programming often found their programs cut short at the end, due to the failure of the Foxtel EPG engine to identify precisely when a network Seven program began and ended.
Seven was the last free-to-air network to sign a retransmission deal with Foxtel, which now has agreements with all major free-to-air stations around Australia.
The deal will provide cable retransmission of Seven’s digital signal on Foxtel’s platform, allowing viewers to watch their favourite Seven programs in a clearer transmission.
Foxtel customers watching Seven will also gain access to Seven EPG, provided to Foxtel by Seven.
Initially, cable subscribers from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth will have access to Seven, with the Gold Coast to receive the service in “the coming weeks,” according to Foxtel.
Foxtel satellite subscribers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will have to wait until next year to receive digital retransmission, which will become available “in early 2009”, as soon as the new Optus D3 satellite is operational, promises Foxtel.
Foxtel CEO, Kim Williams, is pleased with the win, and says it was “a long time coming.”
“Today’s retransmission deal with Foxtel means [we now have] retransmission agreements with all networks,” said Williams.
“Consumers will enjoy unequalled access to Foxtel’s comprehensive range of digital services including the Electronic Program Guide and iQ recording functionalities. Foxtel will continue to work towards the Government’s digital switchover plans.”
Williams signed the agreement in Sydney today with Seven Media Group CEO, David Leckie.
“This is great news for our viewers and we are excited about this new positive phase in our relationship with Foxtel,” said Leckie.
“Seven’s objective is to deliver our programming to all Australians, and we look forward to making our programming content and information available to more viewers than ever before.”
Neither Foxtel nor Seven have revealed the financial terms of the deal.
A Seven spokesman told The Age that the network’s recently-launched high-definition channel, 7HD, would be available only to customers on Foxtel’s cable network, and not satellite users.
It is still unclear when Seven will launch the TiVo box and programming, which was originally planned for release at the beginning of this year.