Fetch TV markets itself as an easy option in a world where TV viewing is complicated

Fetch TV

Fetch TV chief executive Scott Lorson on partners, competition, content, aggregation and consolidation

As Fetch TV migrates Telstra TV customers across to its platform, the service now reaches 1.3m+ homes across Australia. Prior to the Telstra TV influx, the customer base was made up of users offered a subsidised entry via their broadband supplier. There is also a growing number of consumers who deal direct with Fetch TV after buying the Fetch Mini or Fetch Mighty set-top-boxes at retail.

Mediaweek visited Fetch TV CEO Scott Lorson to talk about the ever-changing TV market.

One question we wanted answered was about the arrival of Foxtel Group’s Hubbl device. Could it impact his business? “No,” was the short answer.

Lorson elaborated: “We’re already competing against Apple [with Apple TV], we’re competing against Google [with Chromecast], we’re competing against Amazon with [Fire], plus Samsung, LG, Hisense, TCL, Xbox, and PlayStation.

“We’ve been very successful as the true local aggregation platform in Australia. I see no reason that that’s not going to continue.”

Fetch TV’s Scott Lorson

What is Fetch TV

“We’re just a pure play aggregation service. It’s designed for watching all your favourite content on a TV. We are delivered via set-top box, one with a PVR and the other one a pocket one without a recording device. We’ve been in this game for a long time, about 12 years.

“Our purpose really hasn’t changed. It’s about just making TV easy, bringing it all together. Our relevance has increased a lot because there’s an explosive fragmentation of options available to consumers. That is a wonderful thing, but it’s introduced complexity. Everyone’s just looking for a way to make their TV viewing experience simple. And that’s what we’re all about.”

How to get Fetch TV

“We have a very sizable customer base with Optus. There’s other broadband providers that are partners as well. Telstra is a very significant partner. Also iiNet, Aussie Broadband, Dodo, iPrimus.

“You can also go into a retailer like JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys and buy Fetch TV. But our principal distribution has historically and continues to be B2B. So we work with telco partners and have a partnership model with the best, most successful ISPs in the country.”

Changing model to get the set-top box

“Historically, the ISPs have what we call hired the set-top box. They charge you a monthly fee, but you’re not buying the box. Increasingly, what we’re seeing, and what Telstra has recently done with their launch, is the customer gets the opportunity to purchase the box up front. There’s no ongoing monthly fee, you only pay for the content that you get. We are evolving with our telco partners from hiring the box to a world where you’re purchasing the box from that telco.

The set-top box is not going away

When asked if set-top boxes will eventually become relics, Lorson replied:
“There are two schools of thought here. One is to say everything’s going to be a connected TV. You just get your TV and it’s all there. And by the way, I can speak to the fact that we have serious plans to be a player in the TV operating system space, where we will offer a Fetch TV that has Fetch’s operating system, not just an app. the operating system. The other is that people will continue to have a box operating system experience.

“With operating systems you have Apple, you’ve got Chromecast, you’ve got Fire, you’ve got Fetch. In those cases, the TV really acts as a display. There are a lot of people who think the market will evolve to the world where you’re choosing your device, and you’re choosing your display. And that’s how you view TV.

“We’re not going to put all of our eggs in one basket, we’re going to pursue both of those.

“For people who want to be 100% digital, they can get the Fetch app. But right now there’s no way to get Fetch without [first getting] a setup box.”

The choice of Fetch TV subscription channels

Choosing Fetch TV’s skinny channel packs

If Fetch TV customers want to add subscription TV, there is a range of channel packs.

“Most customers take at least one pack, some take all four. Our ultimate pack is very popular if you’re if you’re looking for what’s the most popular viewing experience on Fetch.

Watching FTA dominates still, as it does in Australia. Subscription linear channels are number two, Netflix is number three, YouTube is number four.

“We’re all about choice. If people like viewing other channels like Prime, Apple TV+, Netflix, Stan, Paramount+ etc. We have those as well.

“If they want to use free-to-air catch-up services, we have those too.”

‘We’re all about the single bill’

“If I’m a Netflix customer, I can subscribe through Fetch, and pay through Fetch. We’re all about a single bill. If you get a Fetch device, and you already have Netflix, you just want to enter your username and password, start viewing, and maintain your existing Netflix relationship. If you get a Fetch device, plug it in, and you want to add Netflix and put it on the same bill, you can do that as well. Same with Paramount+, or Disney+, etc. Having a single bill is increasingly an important thing for consumers.

“Everything we [bill] is month to month, you can add it, or you can delete it.”

Partnerships with (nearly) all major platforms

“We have all the major platforms. We’re working with pretty much everyone. There is not yet a relationship with Foxtel. There is no Kayo Sports or Binge. We remain very positive about that opportunity in the future and something we’ll continue to explore.


The Fetch Mighty set-top-box

In an on-demand world, PVRs still popular

“The majority of our customers have a PVR device. But increasingly, because the FTA players have done such a great job of making their content available via the apps, a lot of people would prefer to pay less and just have a puck. We cater to both.

“In those households that have a PVR, we’re seeing people still record about 140 shows a month.

“A lot of the devices we compete against don’t no longer offer a PVR. We’re still very committed because we think it’s great customer functionality and utility.”

Telstra relationship

Following an investment by Telstra Group in 2022, Fetch TV operates as a joint venture between Telstra (51.4%) and Astro Holdings.

“The important thing about the Telstra relationship is not only they are a shareholder. They are also a customer. Telstra is the largest mobile and broadband provider in Australia.

“Historically, they’ve built up a very large Telstra TV base, which was using the Roku platform. They committed to migrating over 700,000 customers from that platform over to the Fetch platform.

Telstra is selling Fetch to their new and existing customer base as well. Not only do we have an incredibly supportive shareholder, but we also have another anchor tenant customer. We have the combined scale of Telstra TV and Fetch– over 1.3 million households in Australia.

“We are now a very, very significant player in the aggregation space. We have the benefit of scale, which is critical in this market.”

Market consolidation amongst streamers

There is 100% going to be consolidation in this space. Mention any names…Paramount seems to be an obvious one.

“It’s hard to predict what the game of musical chairs is going to look like, and who’s going to partner with whom. The economics tell you an irrefutable fact that there needs to be fewer players, and there needs to be industry consolidation.”

Fetch facts

• Consumers with Fetch are viewing over four hours a day across the whole household.

• Fetch is good for continuing a series whatever platform you are watching on. The menu offers a row that says “Continue watching” that works across a range of platforms.

• On average people watch about a third of what they record on a Fetch PVR.

• In March, Fetch TV will add another 10 FAST channels.

• When measuring how Fetch TV customers watch content, close to 60% are tuning into FTA TV.

Basil Zempilas

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