A single platform combining all of your favourite streaming services may be on the cards after a Fairfax report revealed Foxtel is in negotiations to join forces with Netflix and Stan.
If realised, this would mean a greater range of movies and TV shows for Australian consumers to choose from, likely at a reduced price.
The Sydney Morning Herald‘s exclusive report did not cite its source, but given that Fairfax owns both the SMH and Stan, the details may have come from an inside source within the organisation.
With Netflix costing a minimum $9.99 per month, Stan starting at $10 and Foxtel Now packages beginning from $10, a customer would be paying at least $30 a month to access each of these services individually.
But any bundled platform supporting all of these services would presumably cost Australian consumers less to remain price-attractive.
One subscription would enable a viewer to gain access to the full range of content offered across Foxtel Now, Netflix and Stan in one place, without needing to scroll back to search a different service.
This comes less than a week after Sky in the UK announced a new partnership with Netflix which will bundle the streaming service into Sky’s TV subscription pack.
The Fairfax report regarding Foxtel said “commercial conversations were ongoing”.
When contacted by The New Daily for confirmation, Foxtel made no explicit acknowledgement of reported discussions with Australia’s two largest video subscription providers.
However, Foxtel admitted it would “welcome other services on the platform”.
“This includes subscription services and free-to-air catch-up services,” a spokesman said.
Netflix remained similarly tight-lipped.
“We are in conversations with many partners at any given time but have nothing to confirm on this at the moment,” a spokeswoman said.
Stan said any discussions with partners are subject to confidentiality and did not wish to comment on the recent report.
Netflix now has about four million Australian subscribers and Fairfax announced last month that Stan’s subscription revenue had observed 83 per cent growth, with 930,000 subscribers.
Foxtel, its rival, lost subscribers for the first time in 2017 – now at 2.8 million. Its earnings have fallen by almost $200 million in four years.
It will soon be 65 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp after the announcement on Tuesday it will merge with Fox Sports into a single company.
A ‘win’ for consumers
Nick Broughall, a technology expert from Finder, said he would expect Foxtel to offer some kind of discount as part of the mega bundle to entice users.
“There are multiple platforms out there like Apple TV that allow users to search for movies or TV shows across certain platforms,” he said.
“The big missing jigsaw piece is Foxtel though, as they typically keep things within their own walled garden.
“Netflix has a lot of original content, so for Foxtel customers who are missing that original content, it will definitely be a big convenience.
“Being able to search across all three services would be a good win for consumers.”
But Mr Broughall said he had doubts over the execution, adding that historically Foxtel’s digital services have not been as strong as Netflix or Stan – from user experience to streaming quality.
While Foxtel’s basic package is comparably priced, its movie package costs $20 a month and sport is priced at $29.
Dr Katie Ellis, a senior research fellow in the Internet Studies Department at Curtin University, said she believed it was a clever strategy on Foxtel’s part to attract people to view video-on-demand via its portal.
“From my experience people don’t often use all three [services] and due to the cost of Foxtel they turn to Netflix or Stan instead, particularly if they don’t watch sport,” she said.
Dr David Glance, director of the University of Western Australia’s Centre for Software Practice, said this deal would leave free-to-air TV as “toast”.
“Younger people are watching far less TV – under 35-year-olds viewing dropped 20 per cent in 2017 – [free-to-air channels] just can’t compete on the convenience of the new ways people watch video: on demand, binge watching and across a broad amount of content.”