Roundup: 10 prepared to splash the cash for AFL, Netflix ads, Fetch TV + more


• Plus the ABC wants a debate, Dreamchaser, The ABC’s complaint review, Olympic TV rights, and free sport at risk

Business of Media

Telstra’s acquisition of Fetch heats up bundling war with Optus

Last week, Telstra confirmed that it had purchased a controlling stake in subscription TV company, Fetch. It’s part of an interesting battle taking place within two larger wars – streaming and telecommunications, reports AFR‘s Nick Cherrier.

The streaming wars are critical because in 2022, subscription-based media is so dominant that it simply can’t be ignored by anyone in the broader media industry.

And both Telstra and Optus have acknowledged that if you can’t beat Netflix, Disney+ and Stan, and you won’t join them, then the next best thing is to bring them together into one convenient collection.The two Australian telecommunications giants have both used bundling as a tactic for decades, and what they’re offering consumers now is a streamlined subscription platform, but the approaches are far from identical.

The two Australian telecommunications giants have both used bundling as a tactic for decades, and what they’re offering consumers now is a streamlined subscription platform, but the approaches are far from identical.

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Why Australian showrunners need business plans, not quotas

Pieces of Her, the critically acclaimed Netflix thriller, was made by Australians, starred Australians, and was shot in Sydney. Not that you’d ever know, reports AFR‘s Miranda Ward.

Like other hits filmed in Australia for the streaming giants – such as Nine Perfect Strangers, La Brea and Clickbait – the actors speak in American accents and pretend to be in Georgia, Maine, or San Francisco.

These kinds of global shows are the future of streaming say Hugh Marks and Carl Fennessy, whose new company Dreamchaser is targeting this market. They oppose government rules that would force them to make shows specifically for Australian audiences.

Marks, the former boss of Nine Entertainment (publisher of The Australian Financial Review), said it was important to encourage the streaming companies to spend money in Australia and work with Australian creatives.

“But we don’t want to narrow that to making shows for the Australian marketplace. I think that would be a mistake.”

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‘Falling over themselves about Netflix’: Media buyer tips streaming ads surge

Media buyers expect Netflix to become a significant force in the local advertising market if it adopts cheaper, ad-supported subscriptions, flagging the potential for the global streaming giant to bring interactive products used in Asia to the Australian market, reports SMH‘s Anthony Segaert.

Following its first drop in users in over a decade, which triggered a steep fall in its share price, Netflix last month said it was exploring cheaper subscription offerings that would force users to submit to viewing advertisements. Netflix had previously ruled out ever allowing advertisements on the platform. “Think of us as quite open to offering even lower prices with advertising as a consumer choice,” co-chief executive Reed Hastings told investors.

Joe Frazer, managing partner and head of growth at media agency Half Dome, which focuses on digital ad placement, said advertisers would likely flock to Netflix due to its large audience base and its strong reputation among consumers.

“[Advertisers] are falling over themselves about Netflix,” he said. “Video-based advertising is just the biggest growth area at the moment, based on audiences shifting their consumption of content from linear to [broadcast video on demand (BVOD)] and streaming platforms.

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ABC complaints handling needs ‘complete overhaul’, independent review finds

The ABC’s complaints handling process needs a “complete overhaul”, with an independent review finding the controversial in-house system is beset with flaws — most notably, the dubious practice of the public broadcaster being allowed to “mark its own homework”, reports News Corp’s Sophie Elsworth and James Madden.

The review, which was ordered by ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose last October, was handed to the national broadcaster’s board earlier this month for consideration and was discussed at its first meeting for the year last Wednesday.

The Australian has learned that the overarching finding of the independent review is that the ABC’s complaints-handling system needs a “complete overhaul” — a recommendation which, if adopted, would dramatically alter how the taxpayer-funded media organisation deals with public concerns about its editorial positions and practices.

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News Brands

ABC boss David Anderson’s plea to leaders on election debates

With the prospects of a debate on the ABC featuring Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese dwindling by the day, the public broadcaster has decided to wheel out the big guns, reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

Diary has obtained a copy of a private two-page letter sent as an apparent last-ditch plea by ABC managing director David Anderson to the campaign offices of both Morrison and Albanese for an ABC debate.

The ABC chief’s rare intervention into editorial affairs, dated last Tuesday April 26 and tagged simply: “Correspondence from David Anderson, ABC Managing Director”, implored Morrison and Albanese that an 8pm face-off next Monday on the public broadcaster with David Speers as moderator was the one debate the campaign couldn’t do without.

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Sport Media

10’s parent company is prepared to splash the cash for AFL

It has long been the bridesmaid of Australian commercial television. But the long-suffering 10 Network, now owned by international media giant Paramount, last week set about finally ditching its runner-up image once and for all by commencing an audacious, big money bid to snatch the rights to the AFL from Seven for the next five years, reports News Corp’s Nick Tabakoff.

10’s joint Australian bosses, Beverley McGarvey and Jarrod Villani, jetted out along with AFL chief Gillon McLachlan to Paramount’s Avenue of the Americas headquarters in New York to introduce McLachlan to Paramount’s global boss Bob Bakish ahead of a lunch meeting at 12.30pm on Thursday (New York time).

Diary has received word out of the high-powered summit that the message to McLachlan from the three media executives couldn’t have been clearer: that the perennial bridesmaid of Australian commercial free-to-air TV is willing to do “whatever it takes” to splash out the big bucks required to win the AFL rights. As one key insider colourfully put it last week: “10 and Paramount are sitting at (New York dining institution) Harry’s Steakhouse with Gil McLachlan, pouring copious amounts of Napa Valley wine down his gullet to convince him that this time they are serious about the rights.”

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Nine and Seven in the race for Olympic Games rights as Kerry Stokes lunches with IOC chief Thomas Bach

It might be a guaranteed loss – on balance sheets, anyway – but Australia’s two biggest commercial free-to-air television networks are both quietly preparing for a possible crack at nabbing broadcast rights to the next three summer and Winter Olympics, reports News Corp’s James Madden.

With the International Olympic Committee expected to launch a formal tender later this year for the rights to the next three summer and winter Olympics, including the Brisbane Games in 2032, both Nine and Seven are believed to be considering their options with regards to the long-term deal.

The Australian understands that Seven owner Kerry Stokes enjoyed a private lunch on Sunday with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, who was in Australia for the IOC’s first meeting with Brisbane Games organisers.

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‘Stakes are getting higher’: Labor says free sport broadcasts at risk

Labor says Australia needs to urgently review its sports broadcasting rules and has accused the Morrison government of failing to safeguard AFL, NRL, the Olympics and other major sports from being locked behind online streaming giants’ paywalls, reports SMH‘s Patrick Hatch and Nick Bonyhady.

The row over the broadcasting rules has escalated after two of the world’s biggest streaming services – Amazon Prime and Paramount – put their hands up to be part of an AFL broadcasting deal from 2024 onwards.

Labor’s communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said Australians’ free access to major sporting events was in jeopardy and the need to review and reform the “anti-siphoning” laws to reflect the rise of streaming services was “ever more pressing”.

“The stakes are only getting higher, both for industry whose business models rely on sports rights and for consumers, who face rising cost of living pressures and who rely on free-to-air TV, particularly those Australians in the digital divide,” Rowland said.

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