Foxtel is determined to remain relevant, especially as it’s most important television coup and potential moneyspinner comes online again this year.
Game of Thrones in Australia made headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons. Record numbers of viewers chose to illegally pirate the series, rather than pay a subscription to Foxtel, an organisation that has struggled to remain relevant in the face of streaming services that require no hardware. The reason for the piracy record was directly related to Foxtel’s demand that users sign up for an extended period of time, committing to a plethora of old-fashioned channels. Users, by this stage used to Netflix and Stan’s free trial months, and no term contract arrangements, refused in droves and piracy ran rampant.
However, Foxtel seems to have learned its lesson, at least to a certain extent. While there are no plans to completely overhaul its infrastructure, and bring it in line with the new generation of digital channels; Foxtel Play, which has been around for a while will now enable fans of Game of Thrones to access the show for $15 a month – or $30 over the two month screening period. Assuming Foxtel doesn’t find a way to extend the series for another week. This will likely impact severely on piracy levels, and potentially even ingratiate the Foxtel brand once again to a certain number of the Australian watching public. However, as far as disruptive technology goes, digital streaming has made more than a significant global impact and Foxtel simply cannot compete.
Digital streaming enables families to watch on multiple devices, regardless of their location. Children can watch on a mobile in the bedroom, while mum and dad watch TV, and the teenagers watch something different in another room on the laptop. With Foxtel, additional sets mean additional cables, installation, and set-top boxes, all of which take time and money. Digital television is generally free for the first month, and then around $10 a month from then on with no contract or time commitment.
Foxtel play is a is a step in the right direction, but in order for the service to remain relevant outside of sport, it needs a dramatic overhaul and to regain the trust of the Australian public.