The dealmaker: Foxtel’s Amanda Laing on securing Warner Bros Discovery

Warner Bros Discovery pipeline gives Foxtel and Binge subscribers good reasons to keep subscriptions active

Foxtel Group dealmakers have every right to kick back and savour the moment after securing their latest content deal with Warner Bros Discovery.

It’s been a big year for the subscription television outfit with big spending coming after the success of Kayo and Binge helped top up the coffers. The extra cash that the streaming businesses generated has been used to top up a bulging content vault.

In the past 12 months, major deals have been signed with the AFL, Cricket Australia, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures and now Warner Bros Discovery [WBD].

While Foxtel Group chief content officer and key dealmaker Amanda Laing [pictured above with Foxtel Group CEO Patrick Delany) didn’t want to talk contract specifics, she explained to Mediaweek the deal confirmed this week supplants a multi-year agreement forged in 2020. Back then the HBO content was secured in a deal with what was then just Warner Bros.

Since then the world has changed – the HBO parent is now the global giant Warner Bros Discovery. The new deal wraps up HBO again, but it also includes renewals for existing Discovery deals signed with Discovery Inc just 12 months ago.

See also: Foxtel Group and Discovery, Inc. announce new multi-year content deal

While the HBO deal gives the Foxtel Group exclusivity to their content, Discovery programming also is available elsewhere.

See also: Streaming and channel deal – Fetch TV and Discovery renew long-term partnership

In a discussion with Mediaweek soon after the ink had dried on the new contract, Laing explained: “We never talk about the term of the various agreements, but it was timely to look again at our Warner Bros Discovery partnership and fashion something for the future.

Laing explained the deal now includes new series and library content plus movies from HBO Max, Warner Bros and Discovery.

As to interest from other parties like Stan for content from Warner Bros Discovery, all Laing would comment was “it was hotly contested, as I’m sure you can appreciate”.

Foxtel group’s chief content and commercial officer added: “We took the time and effort to work very closely with Warner Bros Discovery, to find a deal that would work for both of us into the future.”

Not able to add any detail to comments that both parties will collaborate on “a future streaming service,” she noted: “Whatever [WBD’s] plans are, we will remain their biggest partner and this deal contemplates how we might grow and evolve together.”

Foxtel Group is working on something called Project Magneto which is a “streaming aggregation product” and when it is unveiled at the end of this year, content from Warner Bros Discovery will be a key offering to customers.

For HBO in particular, the studio has proven it remains the home of the hits. There were questions when Game of Thrones wrapped if they could again deliver audience magnets. House of the Dragon did good business, but so did Succession and White Lotus.


Laing: “With The Last of Us, many people saw that as another test of can [HBO] keep delivering these breakout hits that capture the imagination of audiences.

“Could IP that was based on a game deliver? It certainly did and has brought on a huge number of subscribers. Episodes one to four of The Last of Us have delivered a cumulative audience of more than 1.1 million viewers per episode [across Foxtel and Binge].

“These are huge numbers. I don’t have any doubt that they’re going to continue to deliver the hits, even whether that be a new season of loved shows, like Succession or White Lotus, or a continuation of a franchise like True Detective. I mean, True Detective with Jodie Foster this year…that’s going to be extraordinary.”

Any program funds left in the Foxtel bank account?

Laing bristled at any suggestion Foxtel might be out of money or had overpaid for content.

“We’ve had a very busy 12 months of renewing our major sporting and entertainment studio deals. That has been the strategy and certainly not a coincidence. All of that has been planned. All of this is within the financial envelope the business has. If there are others trying to suggest that we’ve paid too much, it’s fair to say that you’ve only paid too much if what you’ve bought does not deliver value. We have no doubt about the value that this [WBD] content delivers for our business.”

Jodie Foster in True Detective (HBO)

Foxtel Group by the numbers

As at December 31, 2022

• Total Foxtel Group subscribers of 4.414 million (4.329 million paid), up 10% on the prior corresponding period

• Total streaming subscribers, including Kayo Sports, Binge and Foxtel Now reached 2.758 million (2.678 million paid), up 25% year-on-year

• Streaming subscribers represented 62% of the Foxtel Group’s total subscribers (56% in Q2 FY22)

• Kayo Sports reached 1.136 million subscribers (1.126 million paid), up 11%

• Binge reached 1.439 million subscribers (1.375 million paid), up 48%

• Foxtel Now reached 183,000 subscribers (177,000 paid), down 16%

• Foxtel residential and commercial broadcast subscribers were 1.631 million, down 8%

• Foxtel Residential subscribers declined to 1.401 million

See also: Foxtel Group Q2 FY23 results: Total streaming subscribers up 25% YoY

To Top