In this guest post, James Lucas (main photo), group trading director for OMD Brisbane, casts his expert eye over Foxtel’s Upfronts from yesterday and says the SVOD player has adapted well in what’s become a very crowded market…
Foxtel has had an amazing year of growth however the question is where do they go from here, and what is the strategy to keep this momentum going? This year’s Foxtel showcase felt less like a 2022 upfront presentation and more like a broader Foxtel update, covering the strategic roadmap for the business. At the core of this is building a business that is customer focused and IP led, with a clear ambition of becoming Australia’s most dynamic streaming company. To achieve this, Foxtel believes that as a company it needs to move away from being a single group TV brand to become an offering of genre lead streaming services. They have clear learnings and structure, the result of a successful uptake of Kayo in Australia which is now sitting at more than 1.1m subscribers. Importantly, 80% of subscribers are tuning in on a weekly basis. It is a strategy that appears to be working and profitable for Foxtel, evident in the company’s FY21 financial statements.
For Foxtel to continue the revenue and subscriber growth momentum of 2021, the network needs to maintain a focus on innovating and bolstering their streaming product offering. The network’s overall programming strategy is one way it hopes to achieve this, with Foxtel’s programming slate remaining well-rounded and covering a wide spectrum of genres. The launch of Flash is another way Foxtel will aim to drive this continued momentum, which is forecast to grow the overall subscriber base.
Foxtel is in a unique position in the Australian market as the only real SVOD service supported by advertising. With 85 per cent of Australian households set to subscribe to an average of four streaming services by 2025, Foxtel will need to navigate churn as more services enter the market and find a model that is commercially viable and sustainable. Advertising will be a lucrative means for Foxtel to continue to invest in areas of content, platform evolution and the overall technology stack. Ensuring subscribers remain sticky will be a focus, with as much as 65 per cent of the base likely to fall in this ad-supported subscription model based on Hulu’s performance in the US. Reaching this audience will be valuable for advertisers navigating cross-channel video executions and negating declines or competition of other video channels.
Where free-to-air networks spoke to their ‘total TV’ product offering, we instead saw Foxtel refer to their bread and butter as ‘intelligent video’. This will be their differentiation in the premium video market. Foxtel’s product offering, or where it will end up, is addressable media as the network is actively working to a goal of serving every single ad digitally.
Foxtel’s ambition of delivering 100% of ads digitally is an achievable goal and is already underway as the network begins rolling out their iQ5 box. The technology in this device has now made connecting to a cable or satellite a thing of the past. Foxtel’s ‘linear broadcast’ now has the framework in place ready for digital ad insertion down the track. A cross-device, premium video solution will be incredibly enticing to advertisers seeking engaged audiences leaning in to advertising supported content. With more than four million subscribers this is now something Foxtel will be able to do at scale. From a media execution perspective, this would be a powerful selling point for Foxtel especially when considering the advanced measurement and targeting solutions this would offer.
With the advancement in technology and customer demand also evident, Foxtel’s focus now needs to move to combining the two and continuing to evolve their data offering. An update or roadmap on Foxtel’s data product or offering was noticeably absent from the showcase presentation and will hopefully be presented as a follow-up in the new year.
The Foxtest initiative touched on potential opportunities including the use of data, specifically around the matching of first party client data and how this can be used in an addressable advertising solution across the network. It was noted that a large retailer is already working through this in conjunction with Kayo. In general, the Foxtest initiative sounds exciting and will be tackling some big topics including how to leapfrog the market in areas such as content, ad experience and data. With only 10 spaces available, I imagine Foxtel will want to partner with advertisers operating in a partnership mindset with research projects looking to answer mutually beneficial challenges.
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