Today is the annual conference of the Pay TV industry at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre where executives and decision-makers from across the sector will gather to talk, listen and brainstorm.
It begins with the Women In Television breakfast at 7:15am headed up by Sandra Levy from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Former Victorian Premier, and ASTRA Chairman, welcomes the delegates at 9:45, ahead of Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries keynote address. Survivor creator Mark Burnett’s Plenary Address at 11:30am via videolink after he was unable to attend.
Afternoon sessions include such topics as “If Content is King Who Are the Future Rulers?”, “The Power of the PVR,” “Striving to Be Different: STV’s Customer Service Focus”, “Winning the Hearts and Minds of Consumers” and “New Media: Disruptive or Advantage?” The day ends with the ASTRA Industry Excellence Awards and drinks (of course).
But while the heads of the Pay TV industry are gathering, what are the issues that are pressing to the audience?
Last August in TV Tonight’s ‘Audience Inventory’, readers identified a number of issues that needed addressing including:
– Adding all Free to Air Channels (Seven, 7TWO and GO! have since been added but some cities and regionals are still without, while ONE is only available to select subscribers depending on their package).
– More Diverse Packaging Options (These have had a shake-up but like Pay TV’s “Use it or Lose It” campaign, many subscribers would prefer to pay just for the channels they actually view).
– Widescreen for All Channels (this is still an outstanding issue, although the Comedy Channel will change on April 1).
– Less Ads (Viewers are unhappy about paying for television while still copping ads).
– Adding New Channels (Foxtel added new channels in November).
– An Improved EPG (also upgraded in November).
– iPhone Application (added in December).
Since that time a number of other issues have become prevalent with ongoing complaints or questions.
– Search Function (pictured). In January Foxtel advised TV Tonight this inoperative function would be rectified “in coming weeks.” So far it isn’t.
– iQ Series Link. Readers are continually asking why their Series Link function has been dropping out causing them to miss episodes of favourite shows.
– Content. Too many repeats, particularly on the movie channels (despite that fact extra movie channels were added).
– Customer Service. Outsourcing a Call Centre always has its limitations.
– Ovation Channel. Longtime viewers of the channel aren’t taken with the idea of losing the channel, even with STVDIO to replace it, or with the ‘option’ of paying extra every month to access it.
– OPTUS TV Magazine. Last edition was published in February. Subscribers are unhappy there is no magazine Guide anymore.
– Monopolies. Regional viewers have long protested that in the bush they have the choice of one provider, Austar.
– Fastracking. While American Idol gets a same day turnaround, other shows still take their time in arriving. Dexter and True Blood are just two shows viewers want to see sooner rather than later.
– Adding first run Australian drama to channels that attract higher subscription fees. None of Tangle, 30 Seconds or The Jesters were available on the basic package and Spirited will similarly be seen on W.
– Some confusion over which subscribers were lucky enough to receive the Winter Olympics channels free when other long-term subscribers felt overlooked.
On a positive note, viewers were complimentary about Foxtel’s Winter Olympics coverage, there have been no significant complaints about the new Download offering and IQ subscribers like it so much they couldn’t live without the thing.
If you have any other issues you would like directed to Pay TV execs, let’s hear it.