Yesterday on Fetch TV’s Facebook page it was announced that Foxtel had gained exclusive distribution rights in Australia to three AT&T/WarnerMedia channels.
The channels in question are news channel CNN and kids channels Cartoon Network and Boomerang.
Fetch are not happy and are urging their customers and fans to write to the ACCC about it.
Foxtel made a deal last year with AT&T/WarnerMedia for exclusive access in Australia for content for HBO content on their platforms including Foxtel and their streaming offering Binge. It seems as part of that deal exclusive access was negotiated for the channels mentioned above.
Fetch plans to announce two replacement channels aimed at children imminently.
The Australian pay TV war between Foxtel and Fetch TV has been going on for years. Foxtel will not allow any Foxtel owned channels like The
Lifestyle Channel or Fox Showcase and in recent years streaming services like Kayo and Binge on Fetch TV set top box devices.
For context, Foxtel now has 3.3 million customers across it’s suite of product offerings. Fetch has over 700,000 subscribers with an eye on the magic million figure.
The following are the Facebook pages of Foxtel and Fetch and the numbers they have in their groups:
Foxtel: 1 million fans
Fetch: 33,487 fans
As you can see Fetch has quite the uphill battle in terms of the shear amount of Facebook fans Foxtel has.
Now these are Foxtel related Facebook Groups. Foxtel Fans is setup by Foxtel itself (heavily moderated by Foxtel but pretty helpful at the end of the day) and Foxtel Compliants is setup by people who wanted a more open forum for their opinions and complaints about Foxtel:
Foxtel Fans: 3K members
Foxtel Complaints: 7.7K members
Now turning to the very handy Whirlpool Forums:
The Future of Foxtel (thousands of posts about the future of Foxtel. It’s lowed up a bit lately though. Perhaps a sign that people aren’t as confident of Foxtel’s future.)
Foxtel Bargaining (thousands of posts with Foxtel customers wargaming how to get better deals from Foxtel. The main tactic is threatening to cancel, getting out through to Foxtel’s retention department and hoping they offer you a better deal.)
Fetch on Whirlpool (one of the best resources for Fetch users. Thosuands of posts and people seemingly happy to help out new customers of Fetch as well as discuss changes like what happened with the channels being removed from Fetch.)
Foxtel vs Fetch: A Comparison of Advantages and Disadvantages
-exclusive homes of Fox Showcase (the home of HBO and other premium dramas and documentaries), The Lifestyle family of channels, Fox Footy, Fox League, Fox Cricket, CNN, Sky News Australia and more
-two 4K channels with the iQ4 set top box
-has a decent on demand feature with Foxtel On Demands on the iQ3 and iQ4s
-Kayo and Binge are cheaper options and are streaming service style apps
-Foxtel Original programming like The End, Wentworth and Gogglebox Australia are quite compelling
-can record and watch free to air TV all on the one box with the iQ3 and iQ4
-pretty expensive unless you can get a deal or negotiate a deal
-Sky News Australia and Fox News are carried by Foxtel and decidedly depending on your politics may be a deal breaker
-owned by Rupert Murdoch (self evident the effect he’s had on society the world over)
-has Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, 10 All Access apps
-exclusive home of MSNBC in Australia
-has the Australian free to air catch up TV apps
-has Optus Sport
-you can get Fetch through some NBN Retail Service Providers
-can record and watch free to air TV
-plenty of channel options for non-English speakers
-cheap channel package options
-option to hook up a portable USB hard drive for media playback
-options for Mighty or Mini (Mini is a cheaper option without recording functionality)
-lack of access to Foxtel exclusive channels like Fox Footy and Fox Cricket
-in Australia with our crappy NBN live streamed TV over the internet may not work for some as expected
-doesn’t have access to as many apps as Google TV + Chromecast or Apple TV (but this is going to be rectified soon with the Metrological deal)
I think traditional pay TV (cable/satellite) is a declining industry as it is but Australia always seems to be a little bit behind the eight ball trends wise. Obviously I haven’t spoken much about the elephant in the room. All the streaming TV apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that are invading Australia. But for the sake of focus I decided to stay on Foxtel and Fetch.
I see trends of people leaving Foxtel when I read the Foxtel Complaints Facebook group but these must be isolated incidents as Foxtel actually grew their subscriber base in 2020 and especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I haven’t seen customer numbers for Fetch recently but I’d expect them to have grown as well.
The big thing I think will affect Foxtel is if that AT&T/WarnerMedia content rights output deal isn’t renewed. But with no solid time frame on when that deal is expected to expire Foxtel may be safe for now. If AT&T/WM decide to go hard on their HBO Max International rollout I’d say Foxtel may be in a lot of strife if they lose Fox Showcase’s “Home of HBO” moniker. I’d see them doubling down on live sports and Foxtel Originals because the reality of it is there’s just not that many major content providers left to do deals with. A similar problem is approaching Nine’s Stan streaming service.
Fetch is also going to have to innovate to stay in the game. I am looking forward to future hardware offerings from both Foxtel and Fetch. The iQ5 is rumoured to come out later this year and be more Internet focused. I haven’t heard a thing about Fetch’s next set top box. But I will be the first to try them out.
Anthony Eales is a media, news & tech junkie from Australia. You can reach him on Twitter @ants000.