Kayo’s Cate Hefele on the streamers’ strategy to retain sports subscribers

Hefele: “We are constantly asking ourselves, OK, we have these rights. How do we maximise them?”

Kayo is relying heavily on data to convert sports fans, retain subscribers, and maximise its sports rights properties as Hubbl opens the sports streamer to new customers. 

The platform, which reported 1.2 million subscribers for Q2 – a 4% increase year-on-year – is using data profiling to target and convert sports fans to different sports in a bid to capture their attention and retain their subscriptions.

“Our growth profile has always been: grow in winter, hold in summer,” said Cate Hefele, executive director of Kayo Sports.

“We are looking at how we leverage the sports that we have and tap into each of the audiences that are fans of those sports. And if we have someone who is an AFL fan, it’s about making sure that they know there’s NRL, BBL or F1 on Kayo that they can watch as well. The data works hard on that and we are continuing to focus on that for retention.”

Hefele told Mediaweek that rights remain crucial elements in its strategy, particularly the AFL, which kicks off with its first game tonight, with the Sydney Swans versus the Melbourne Demons. Kayo continues to share rights for the AFL with the Seven Network and last year signed the biggest sports broadcast rights deal in Australian history, a $4.5bn deal.

“It’s not just buy the rights, set and forget,” said Hefele. We are constantly asking ourselves, OK, we have these rights. How do we maximise them?”

Following an 11% increase in streaming last year, Kayo has launched a major marketing campaign and rolled out a revamped AFL content line-up with new talent, timeslots and programs, with three-time Premiership player Jack Riewoldt joining its marquee AFL 360 program, which has moved to an earlier 6.30 pm time slot on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesday.

On The Couch, hosted by Garry Lyon and featuring Jonathan Brown and Nathan Buckley, has moved to 7.30pm on Mondays. Midweek Tackle, a new panel show with a rotating group of football journalists, airs at 7.30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

She points to the Kayo Mini, a short-form highlights package, as a great way to drive greater engagement among fans. “A great example was over the cricket season. Glenn Maxwell had an incredible season, with a double century and the fastest-ever century. We rebranded our Kayo Mini and created a ‘Kayo Maxy’ with content of Maxwell getting the double century and the fastest-ever century. It was the best-performing mini we’ve ever had.”

Adam Gilchrist headlines latest 'Get on Board' campaign for Kayo Sports via Fox Creative

Kayo launched the Get On Board marketing campaign this year

Hefele also points to the platform’s work to maximise cultural sporting moments, such as the Super Bowl. “This year was our biggest ever Super Bowl, biggest in sign-ups and viewerships. We had a big viewing party in the office to watch Taylor … and the game,” she jokes.

“We continue to ask ourselves how we can look at what our fans want and keep delivering that for them, and that’s where the data works really hard.”

Hefele said the arrival of Hubbl presented huge opportunities for the platform to attract different types of customers.  

“Kayo will always live as a standalone product, and we’ll be able to drive that, but living on Hubbl as well gives us access to a new customer who might be looking to bundle a bunch of different offerings and that hasn’t been open to us in the past.

“We’re working hand in hand with Hubble in a way that we haven’t been able to before with Foxtel. With Foxtel, it was more about how we keep the two brands separate. With Hubbl, there will be a shift in our tone and our campaign, which will be about having Kayo and Hubbl.”

See also: ‘You grow sport by making it more accessible’: Seven doubles down on anti-siphoning lobbying ahead of 2024 AFL season

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