Entertainment TV Stan Sport teams up with rugby to challenge Foxtel’s market monopoly

Stan Sport teams up with rugby to challenge Foxtel’s market monopoly

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Nine’s streaming platform Stan looks to be posturing up to take on Foxtel, with the announcement of Stan Sport on Monday.

The sporting spin-off announced its arrival with the signing of broadcast rights to all Rugby Australia content, from next year.

It puts an end to a 25-year deal Rugby Australia held with Foxtel.

Although many analysts say Foxtel won’t be that fussed to see the code go (it has been recently been underperforming in ratings) it does give Stan the starting block to enter a league that was previously largely one-sided.

Subscription sport content has been the domain of Foxtel, and more recently its little brother platform Kayo, for as long as Australia can remember.

Telstra and more so Optus have floated in and out of partnership deals for broadcasting, the latter with Fetch TV.

As well as all rugby content, Stan Sport will include a catalogue of classic games and moments, while it looks for more sports rights to bring on board, a release from the company said.

Stan gets its groove back

Stan has had a shocker of a run – with its big-name distributors pulling their content in favour of going direct to market (think Disney launching Disney+, Showtime disappearing).

In a crowded streaming market that favours the “only the strong survive” mantra, Stan was looking like the weak gazelle.

Stan needed to find a niche, and breaking into the sports market could be it, Victoria University senior screen media lecturer Marc C-Scott said.

Rugby Australia has had an equally rough year, taking its broadcast rights to market (for the first time since 1996) just before the pandemic shut down sport around the world.

Foxtel picked up a one-year deal for a sum rumoured to be $15 million less than what is used to pay.

Dr C-Scott said while it might not be a great loss to Foxtel, it’s Stan’s gain.

“It’s a significant thing, to not take (rugby) straight to your broadcasting channel, but to take it straight to your (streaming service),” said Dr C-Scott, referring to the fact only select games will be available on Nine’s free-to-air channels.

It’s not yet clear what the Stan Sports pricing structure will look like, but a straight-up Stan subscription starts at $10 a month.

Bringing TV, movies and sport under one company is something we haven’t seen done since Foxtel, a pay TV option that many Australians have shied away from in favour of cheaper platforms.

“The next step is, does Stan somehow link up into a device? Is there a Stan TV that comes out, similar to the Fetch TV?” Dr C-Scott pondered.

Stan recently committed to creating 30 new pieces of Australian content over the next five years.