Foxtel EPG should align FTA multichannels

vlcsnap-6291There are interesting comments today from Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein in the debate over anti-siphoning list reform and whether the subscription TV industry should be paying Free to Air industry a retransmission fee for airing their content.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull is considering potential change.

“Deregulation provides us with the opportunity to explore the ­implementation of an arrangement in which free-to-air and subscription broadcasters reach commercial arrangements that recognise the value of retransmission to each party,” he has noted.

But Richard Freudenstein is dead against STV having to pay retransmission rights, and hints at such costs being passed on to customers.

“Why should Foxtel customers pay for anything that everyone else gets for free?” he told the Australian Financial Review.

“We provide a great service for the free-to-airs for all their channels on the front page of our electronic programming guide so they get plenty of viewing in Foxtel homes, helping them to get more advertising.”

With the advent of multichannels, Foxtel has faced increased Freeview competition, which no doubt has added to the STV provider’s penetration stagnating at around 30% of Australian homes.

But while Freudenstein talks up the FTA channels on the front page of their EPG, it has scattered the multichannels such as GO!, 7TWO, ELEVEN, ABC News 24 and SBS 2 all around the guide.

Some are listed as Entertainment channels, others are filed under HD channels. None are listed alongside their primary channel, Seven, Nine, TEN, ABC and SBS.

Last I checked ABC3 was an ABC channel. SBS 2 was an SBS channel.

In multiple annual Audience Inventory surveys, TV Tonight readers have voted “Aligning all FTA channels on the EPG Menu” as their #1 concern.

But will the upcoming IQ3 bother to put them together under a FTA category? Such a move would only reiterate the growth of Freeview. Don’t hold your breath.

18 Comments:

  1. In the US the networks drove basic cable sales so were able to demand a piece. It was introduced to provide FTA where reception was poor instead of building retransmitters, internal networks in apartment blocks etc. Cable channels were then sold on top of FTA provision.

    In Australia because cable came late and is only in 30% of houses, most households still maintain an antenna so FTA’s bargaining position is poor. Foxtel refused to pay a cent last time, but did agree to put the channels on the front page of their EPG. But not the secondary ones that came along later and compete directly with Fox8 etc.

    Foxtel could always just build an IQ4 with an antenna in so that it functions like an FTA DVR. Would cost a bit but probably cheaper than allowing FTA to take part of their subscription revenue for nothing.

  2. I have no idea why anyone would even want 7, 9, 10, or their offspring on their Foxtel IQ.
    Yes, ABC1&2 and SBS1&2, but that’s all the FTA that I want!
    And I couldn’t care where they are on the EPG.
    I’m quite capable of looking & finding what I want.

  3. This is the same on the iOS epg. At one point it was possible to order the channels to your own preference. So you could have fta main channel, then multicast, then foxtel to what ever it is programmed (in my case how the channels are ordered on foxtel Xbox.)

    With the last update epg was switched to genre.

  4. @Tex – Channel 9 paid (and continues to pay) for that ‘100’ channel number allocation – it was part of the terms and conditions of their contract when Ch 9 was the first (and only) FTA commercial channel on the digital service back in 2004

  5. Pertinax: “It makes sense for Foxtel to put the main channels at the top, they are the most watch channels on their network.”

    Of course – that’s why Channel 9 is first on the list @ 100, while the others are related to their FTA LCN & 109 is strangely vacant.

    David’s article: “With the advent of multichannels, Foxtel has faced increased Freeview competition, which no doubt has added to the STV provider’s penetration stagnating at around 30% of Australian homes.”

    FWIW Foxtel’s penetration rate has remained largely stagnant @ around 30% since early-mid 2007, whle commerical FTA couldn’t/didn’t multichannel until early-mid 2009. As you say it probably hasn’t helped, but the cause would seem to be ‘70% of households aren’t interested’…

  6. That’s adorable. Foxtel and FTA are fighting. They should be working together while they can to convince people to watch them, before, you know, they both implode when that online thing starts to take over. Oh wait…

  7. That’s adorable. Foxtel and FTA are fighting. They should be working together while they can to convince people to watch them, before, you know, they both implode when that digital thing starts to take over. Oh wait…

  8. Why does Footy Classified not appear on my Foxtel guide for tonight? As a result it has disappeared from my series link.
    Do I just assume that, by recording the programmed named in its timeslot, that I will record it by default?

  9. Until the FTA channels are available to every city and country area and not just Melbourne, Sydney & Brisbane, they can stay spread out.

    Only once the FTAs give access to everyone, then and only then should they be all located in the same place.

  10. Secret Squirrel

    What’s this? Another content distributor bleating about not wanting their out-dated model to face market competition? Well, it must be a day of the week ending in ‘y’.

    Freudenstein is being disingenuous when he says that FTA viewers get that content for free – they don’t. They pay for it by watching ads. There are plenty of ads for Foxtel on the commercial networks. You won’t see any ads for 7, 9, or 10 on Foxtel’s channels.

    Seriously, let the market decide. If Foxtel sees value in the FTA channels, they’ll pay some money for them. If not, the FTA networks can decide whether to continue to provide them for free or not.

    If Foxtel feel that they need to pass these costs onto their customers (because, it’s not like they’ve ever done that before) then people can decide whether Foxtel continues to be a value proposition or not.

  11. I’d rather Foxtel drop the FTA channels than pass an increase in price on to me.

    The current arrangement is beneficial to both Foxtel and the FTA networks.

    I doubt that there would be many people that would drop their Foxtel subscription if it didn’t carry the FTA channels, likewise if all the FTA channels were aligned in the EPG. Freeview is average at best.

    Most Foxtel customers subscribe because they see value in the platform (to some degree), and that’s not going to change.

  12. ABC3 is grouped with the Foxtel kids channels.
    SBS2 was foreign news and language channel before being relaunched as a 16-34 channel.

    It makes sense for Foxtel to put the main channels at the top, they are the most watch channels on their network. But you wouldn’t expect Foxtel to move their main channels Fox8 etc into obscure locations to make way for secondary channels that compete directly with them.

    I don’t think it matters, if you want TBBT repeats then people know how to find Go!.

  13. Foxtel is dying, though to be honest it never really lived outside its iron lung. It’s always been simply too expensive for what it provides. Plus the way it’s packaged it’s just not appealing to the masses (if I want movies, I want movies, not a bunch of other expensive stuff just so I can add movies later, same goes for sport, etc).

    The programming simply isn’t engaging enough either. There are too many old shows, too many missing new shows and too many repeats, so it’s no better than FTA in most cases. Introducing ads is what killed it for us, it was average to below-average value for us beforehand, but the ads were a slap in the face. Even *with* pay TV we found ourselves hiring movies and watching FTA more often than not.

    There’s too much penny pinching too. For goodness sake, with the prices they charge, they can afford to sling me a paper TV guide, the local paper…

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