In a mail-out late last week, Foxtel told subscribers it would be increasing the cost of its sport channel package by $4 to $29 from February, on the eve of the AFL and NRL seasons.
This represents a 16 per cent increase on the current monthly charge of $25 for sport. But subscribers can only get the channels if they first sign on for Foxtel’s basic entry package that currently costs another $26 a month.
On its website, under the heading, “Who do we disclose your personal information to?”, the policy lists everything from third-party marketers to law-enforcement agencies and News Australia-related companies or affiliates. This would almost certainly include the company’s stable of newspapers.
“How they use your personal information is subject to their privacy policies,” the Foxtel site says. Subscribers must contact the company if they don’t want their information shared.
To read Foxtel’s full policy regarding your personal information, click here.
The increase in the price of the sports package prompted an immediate outcry on social media which, in turn, forced Foxtel into full defensive mode.
“Foxtel don’t so much broadcast sport as hold it hostage,” one tweeter wrote.
So, umm….how do @Foxtel justify a price increase in sports package when the actual value has either decreased or stayed the same?
— AEssof (@AEssof05) December 15, 2016
A lot of people complaining about the @Foxtel price increase, but what should be talked about is still charging $10 for HD in 2016.
— Justin Turner (@TheNRLMan) December 14, 2016
— Scott Mitchell (@grumbles_2014) December 14, 2016
— Lee Cunningham (@lee_city84) December 14, 2016
After a barrage of similar tweets, the company’s customer help centre tweeted that “a small increase in price” would enable them to “acquire more quality content”.
This led to more social media attacks with many decrying the quality of Foxtel’s recent sports content and making the point that a $4 increase on a $25 price amounted to a 16 per cent hike, which was hardly “small”.
“It’s a bit rich to be adding $4 a month to the sports package a few months after losing the PL rights,” wrote one tweeter, referring to Foxtel losing English Premier League broadcast rights to Optus.
Others said it would force them to cancel the service whose pricing already compares unfavourably with streaming services like Netflix and Stan which charge around $10 a month.
“It is time to cancel my #Foxtel subscription,” tweeted one subscriber. “Call it the $4 per month increase that broke the camel’s back. But I’ll miss the darts.”
Subscribers have had to endure a late spring and early summer of second-rate sports viewing – in addition to losing the Premier League rights, Foxtel doesn’t televise any of the major summer cricket matches and will have little or no coverage of the Australian Open tennis.
Meanwhile its football channels have been reduced to endless repeats of sometimes less-than-compelling events. Last week its AFL channel replayed the entire 2012 Brownlow Medal count won by Essendon captain Jobe Watson, only for him to be stripped of the medal four years later.
Foxtel says it has about 2.9 million subscribers throughout Australia.