Business of Media
Foxtel aims to disrupt with ‘Project Magneto’ in quest to translate users into profits
Foxtel is tapping into its heritage, launching a new brand and hardware to get a head start in content aggregation as streaming services look to find sustainable revenue streams, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.
The majority Murdoch-owned pay TV company is set to add a new name to its list of brands, which currently includes Fox Sports, Foxtel Media, Binge, Kayo and Flash, though that name remains a secret, still being sold under the mysteriously packaged “Project Magneto”.
The arrival of the product later this year is timely for Foxtel, with its competitors including Netflix and Disney scratching their heads over slowing subscriber numbers and pressure from investors to start translating users into profits.
“I’ve said this many times: the exuberance of subscription numbers has passed a long time ago,” Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany said. “It’s now about revenues, and that’s playing out.”
Delany believes the launch of its new streaming aggregation offering, which will be sold as a smart TV or a plug-in device, will serve a growing gap in the market and allow Foxtel to complement and differentiate from its existing brands and services.
Sun sets on media start-up News.net
The website for ambitious start-up News.net quietly went offline this month, after its final licensing contract with Australian Associated Press was terminated, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.
This comes shortly after a services company, identified only by an Australian company number, which employed 37 staff from News.net, went into liquidation on May 23. Liquidator reports indicated hundreds of thousands in unpaid wages were owed.
The initial liquidation report in June listed the total owed to creditors at $1.43 million as of June 1. Employees were last paid in September and August, and still await an update from the liquidator, which a former employee noted remains months away.
After the services company went into liquidation and the staff were no longer employed, questions were asked about how News.net continued to publish stories, most of which appeared with AAP or AP bylines.
AAP signed its licence agreement with Global News (and Sport) Group Limited in April 2022, sending a letter of termination on July 5, noting several invoices were unpaid at the time.
Emmy Awards will be postponed because of actors’ and writers’ strikes
The fallout from the Hollywood actors’ and writers’ strikes continues. The 75th Emmy Awards will be postponed because of the strikes, according to a person briefed on the plans. The ceremony, originally planned for Sept. 18, does not yet have a new date but will most likely be moved to January, the person said, reports The New York Times’ John Koblin.
Emmy organizers are hopeful that would give the Hollywood studios enough time to settle the labor disputes. A new date will be finalized in the next few weeks.
Fox, which is broadcasting this year’s event, and the Television Academy, which administers the Emmys, had concluded last month that it would have to postpone the event if the writers’ strike continued to linger until the end of July, The New York Times reported last month. The writers have now been on strike for 88 days and have not returned to the bargaining table with the major Hollywood studios since negotiations broke down in early May.
By the time tens of thousands of actors joined the writers on picket lines and went on strike on July 14, it all but put a nail in the coffin for an Emmys ceremony in September.
‘Barbenheimer’ box office sales keep rolling in second weekend
Barbie showed no signs of slowing down in its second weekend at the box office, and was set to haul in $93 million in ticket sales Friday through Sunday, according to estimates from media analytics firm Comscore, reports Reuters’ Nicholas P. Brown.
Director Greta Gerwig‘s take on Barbie – the year’s No. 1 movie, and the highest-grossing opening weekend for a film directed by a woman – has made more than $351 million in the U.S. and Canada since opening on July 21, and nearly $775 million globally, Comscore reported.
The film, which stars Margot Robbie in the titular role, and Ryan Gosling as Barbie’s iconic beau, Ken, sends Mattel Inc’s iconic doll on an adventure into the real world.
The toy maker last week posted a surprise second-quarter profit in the wake of the movie’s release, with CEO Ynon Kreiz telling analysts the company would expand its Barbie-related toys and products in the second half of 2023.
These three Spotify editors are becoming music’s most influential players
Every week, Hannah Brewer, Jazmine Huggins and Amelia Jenner spend almost half of their time at work – about 20 hours – listening to as much new music released in Australia and New Zealand as they can, reports Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones.
As the three music editors at Spotify, the trio are some of the most powerful people in the local industry, deciding whether artists make it into key playlists that materially influence how $250 million in royalties is allocated.
Spotify says it is the “single largest contributor to the Australian music industry”, which is worth more than $609 million a year.
Brewer oversees pop and pop culture, Huggins looks after hip hop, R&B and dance, and Jenner is in charge of the indie scene.
“We do have a powerful, critical role, but we look at it from a place of privilege,” Brewer says.
ARN buys skywriting to impress Kyle and Jackie O
Eagle eye observers in Sydney last Wednesday may have noticed something curious in the sky: KIIS IS KJ written in 500-metre tall letters, report Nine Publishing’s Sam Buckingham-Jones and Mark Di Stefano.
Adding to the mystery, scooters with trailer-drawn billboards were seen around North Sydney at the same time, bearing a similar message.
Skywriting Australia confirmed it was contracted to write the aerial text. The company’s prices start at about $4000, and can reach an audience covering 3000 square kilometres. But these letters were not aimed at a 3000 square kilometre audience. Rather, it was a carefully timed performance with an audience of two: Sandilands and Henderson themselves.
At that time, the pair were meeting in North Sydney with their employer, ASX-listed ARN Media – which owns the Kiis FM brand. ARN confirmed it was behind the skywriting, but said it was part of a broader campaign.
The meeting was in North Sydney because ARN intends to relocate its studios, currently in Macquarie Park in Sydney’s north-west, to a building on Mount Street. Skywriting and billboards alongside the impending move illustrate the extraordinary lengths executives like ARN chief executive Ciaran Davis must go to retain the biggest talent in Australian radio.
Streaming subscriptions continue to grow despite surge in cancellations
Australians cancelled 1.25 million video-on-demand accounts between April and June, up 100,000 on the previous quarter, but the streaming sector maintained net growth, with 1.6 million new subscriptions taken out in the same period, reports Nine Publishing’s Calum Jaspan.
The data comes from insights firm Kantar’s quarterly Entertainment On Demand survey, to be released on Wednesday, which looks at the dynamics of the video-on-demand sector.
Paramount+ and Foxtel’s Kayo and Binge grew their subscriber bases by more than 10 per cent year-on-year, being newer entrants to the market, while Netflix had the largest net decline in users both year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter.
Netflix’s user base was down 9 per cent in Australia across the past 12 months, according to the report, closely followed by Disney+, down 8 per cent, and Stan, down 6 per cent.
Alone Australia sells to USA
Hit SBS series Alone Australia will screen on the History channel from August, reports TV Tonight.
It’s a coup for the local adaptation, produced by ITV Studios Australia after a stellar run on SBS from March – May.
“The History Channel’s hit nonfiction survival series Alone is going Aussie! The network is excited to bring Alone Australia, the highly-rated international version of the hit nonfiction survival series which originally aired on SBS, to American audiences,” the channel stated.
Browne breaks silence on quitting top footy TV gig
Footy news hound Tom Browne has broken his silence on his shock resignation from Channel Seven, reports News Corp’s Fiona Byrne.
Browne informed Seven in recent days that he would be pursuing a new career path in 2024 and would leave the network after the 2023 footy season.
“I have had a great crack reporting and enjoyed every moment of it and I have had a great time,” Browne told Triple M’s Friday Huddle.
“If you told me 12 or 13 years ago that I would still be doing this now, I would have said I would be doing something different. I have enjoyed every bit of it.”
Browne’s new role will see him be a video content producer for Sydney Swan’s chairman Andrew Pridham’s MA Financial Group.
He will relocate with his family to Sydney for the opportunity, moving in with his in-laws to start with.
“I have a beautiful young family and an amazing wife,” Browne said.
“I am batting very much above my average and Tara moved down to Melbourne for me and I am looking forward to reciprocating.”
Matildas World Cup TV ratings awake a ‘sleeping giant’
When Australia’s national women’s soccer team, the Matildas, beat Ireland 1-0 in their opening game of the FIFA World Cup, TV executives were focused on more than the scoreline, reports The Australian’s Nick Tabakoff.
From the perspective of the World Cup’s free-to-air broadcaster Seven and equally interested rivals who missed out on the rights, it was all about the ratings – as a barometer of where women’s team sport stood in the Australian public consciousness.
But when the viewership figures lobbed about 9am the morning after, even Seven was shocked – on the upside.
The telecast averaged 1.91 million viewers nationally across Seven and its streaming service platform, 7plus, making the game’s ratings the highest for a women’s team sport telecast outside the Olympics.
The Matildas – without their star captain and striker Sam Kerr for the start of the tournament – may have lost their second game, against Nigeria, but the audience numbers remained high. And with the team’s World Cup prospects coming down to a do-or-die clash against Olympic champion Canada on Monday night, Seven expects new records when the ratings arrive on Tuesday morning.
Veteran media analyst Steve Allen, director of strategy and research at Pearman Media, was stunned by the size of the World Cup audiences, observing the event shaped as a watershed moment for women’s team sport.