Foxtel profit up but Freeview slows growth

Foxtel has reported a 21% uplift in earnings for the six months to 31st December.

EBITDA rose to $238 million, up from $198 million in the prior corresponding period.

The direct subscriber base grew to 1,516,000, an increase of 5% year on year, while the total subscriber base reached 1,622,000.

The Pay TV king attributed its rise to an uptake of Foxtel iQ, high definition and multi-room services but noted that new free-to-air channels had slowed the rate of subscriber growth.

“I think all of the Freeview noise that is impacting the market at the moment will eventually dissipate,” CEO Kim Williams said from Vancouver on Thursday.

“As that dissipates, the merits of Foxtel and the quality of what Foxtel brings will come very much to the fore.”

Foxtel launched its “Next Generation” of channels and online offerings to subscribers last year.

Williams also dismissed reports of a slow take-up of the Winter Olympics package but would not reveal exact numbers, saying: “It’s a good six figures.”

Coverage of the games begins tomorrow.

And while the Pay TV sector criticises the government’s rebate of some $250m to Free to Air networks, Seven’s David Leckie has told the Australian Financial Review: “The commercial networks fund 75% of local production, while Foxtel funds about 2.5%.”

Source: The Australian, B & T, Ninemsn, AFR

7 Comments:

    • Technically Freeview is already in the bush. You have ABC2 right?

      That satellite for the country they spoke about could set you bag a lot of money to get a dish if you don’t qualify for the rebate.

  1. “The Freeview noise” as Kim Williams puts it should be one of many choice options available to Australians.

    Are Foxtel worried about the coming availabilty of these options especially programming from over the internet?

    Foxtel should still be in a dominant position but it should all be about choice and unrestrictive viewing of programming from around the world.

  2. The investment in winter Olympics is ridiculous as is the expectation that we will pay more for it. I suspect the main reason they have done it is to prepare us for more ‘events’ we have to pay extra for (World Cups etc).

  3. I’m guessing the Winter Olympics take-up has been poor as every time you ring up to talk to someone about a problem with your service they try to sell the package to you.

  4. I’ve been a Foxtel subscriber for almost 7 years, and I have to say whilst there have been some good additions and improvements, for the most part the standard of programming has gone downhill. I acknowledge that reality tv is enjoying unprecedented popularity, but Foxtel seems to have an unhealthy obsession with the format, to the detriment of other lines of programming – not to mention the proportion of repeat programming approaching ludicrous levels.

    One example I would cite is the fact that the recently launched LifestyleYou channel immediately received a timeshift channel – whilst the longterm, and I presume popular, History channel is left with no timeshift option, and is still being broadcast in 4:3. For other longtime Foxtel subscribers, you might recall when Foxtel Digital was first launched (around 04/05 I think), History had a timeshift channel, which soon gave way to W+2 – I should have seen the writing on the wall then.

    FTA is just 2-3 channels shy of luring me away from Foxtel for good – take note Mr. Williams, FTA’s increased appeal won’t dissipate, it will only get stronger. I’d suggest Foxtel refocus their attention on improving the quality of programming across the board – rather than blowing what must represent a sizeable % of their budget on 340 hours of continuous winter olympics coverage (read endless replays) that no one in their right mind would, or could, possibly consume.

    The Bruce Springsteen classic ’57 Channels’ and nothin’ on tv comes to mind.

  5. Foxtel are really on a thread if you think about it (and so is FTA)

    If FTA provided EPG accurately, didn;t can shows after two episodes and waited until the end of the tennis rather than cross to news or showed live sport live (e.g. Friday AFL) and more HD when it would be easy enough to do so then Foxtel would be fighting harder and offer better prices and packages even per channel options. IPTV will eventually knock off Paytv with FTA being the main broadcaster

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