Foxtel: Free to Air is ignoring older viewers

While Free to Air networks are frantically chasing younger viewers and grocery buyers, they are ignoring viewers aged 55+, according to Foxtel Director of Television Brian Walsh.

“There is great opportunity in super-serving senior Australians, because Free to Air networks are abandoning that demographic in a big way,” he told the Australian International Documentary Conference earlier this week.

“That’s fine, that’s their commercial decision. Even the ABC is quite controversially abandoning some of its commitment to senior Australians.

“So we see that as a great opportunity for us. We will be investing a lot more heavily in that demographic gong forward.”

Last week ABC announced the end for The Doctor Blake Mysteries, still its highest-rated local drama.

While Foxtel is less dependent on advertising for its revenue, it can devote more programming to subscribers young and old. Three years ago Walsh threw a lifeline to the axed A Place to Call Home, now one of its most successful dramas.

“A Place to Call Home was an example of where the Seven Network dropped the show because it was skewing too old for advertisers,” Walsh continued.

“In my world we don’t care how old the eyeballs are, as they are valuable customers.”


  1. I find it weird that they lump everyone over 55 together as a demographic. These days a, say, 57-year-old is likely to still have teens at home, busy running their own business and travelling more. Compare to, say, my step-mum who is nearly 80 and has a chronic illness, for whom TV is her life-line, and who watches most of the day. Chalk and cheese consumers.

  2. While the population ages as well, at 56 I’m in the boat of liking some of the quirky shows as well that get dumped to late nights or handballed to Foxtel. Think of shows like Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, Dark Skies and The X-Files all in the time my age was 29 – 35 (41 if you take the X-Files finishing in 2001) and back further Tales From The Darkside and The Night Stalker (original). So the offerings on Netflix like Stranger Things, Sense8, Black Mirror, Jessica Jones, Daredevil and other shows of the ilk are the ones I’m turning to now. Westworld and Legion being another two along with Mr Robot, Orange Is The New Black and Better Call Saul, even some of the comedies like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Grace and Frankie, Santa Clarita Diet and Master of None.

    Yep Free To Air TV is lacking for me, so thank goodness for Netflix and Stan were the number of watches…

  3. I don’t feel ingnored by free to air tv , I’m over 50 , I guess it depends what your interested in , I have access to Foxtel go , if anything Foxtel does offer much to my age group ,free to air second and third channels could re run old tv series ie ,Cagney and Lacey, Street of Sanfransico , etc ond of course older Austrialisn program Homicide DIvision 4, etc

    • I fear for Foxtel’s future. You can’t buy a TV these days which is not a smart TV. They all have Netflix etc in the bottom or top menu bars. Even my grandma can access Netflix etc with this technology.

      No idea how Foxtel plan to survive at their price point. I guess they can hang onto the fact that the Australia population doesn’t really make it viable for the sporting codes to run their own OB units and therefore take a punt on OTT packages for their codes.

      • My mother whom is 77, recently purchased a smart tv and is now using Netflix, watching catch-up and has ditched Foxtel. This is after getting it when it first arrived in the street back in i think 96 or so.
        she also watches a lot of the shows previously on Foxtel now on the secondary FTA digital channels
        I feel Foxtel made the mistake when streaming broke into the market, they needed at that point to be offering competitive packages of Telephony, Internet Pay-tv and allow the streaming App’s to be on the same device, to create a 1 stop ecosystem.

        • I have a telstra tv unit , I great I has all the catch up , Netflix , Stan , and other apps too, Foxtel play was added , 1month free trial , but I just canceled it , for $15 , only 6 entertainment channels , then free extra filler channels , but I had seen most of it on free to air , I like the unit , because I can take it with me , to a friends place , but I digress, the Foxtel play offer should be all 45 entertainment channels for $ 20 ish dollars , because there mainly contains , repeats anyway

      • Foxtel will be needing to review it’s future at some point. It’s unlikely that Mr Murdoch’s sons will be buying out Foxtel as it is trying to do with Sky in the UK as Foxtel doesn’t have 12 million viewers which is really the problem for Australia’s Pay TV industry. Dumping set top boxes and starting a Stan type streaming service that can be cancelled at anytime will not commercially work for Foxtel not unless News Corp Globalises it’s pay TV interests similar to Netflix.

  4. Yes, I think the other channels have done the same. They don’t even show the ratings for the over 50’s even though I am told they do have them. Give me a good old fashion western anyday. Drama movies had it all, and no swearing and too much open sex.

  5. Um, ok, well if that’s the case then why did Foxtel remove the TCM (Turner Classic Movies) channel in December 2016? A channel that predominantly appealed to senior viewers. Bizarre.

    • Yes, and, at the time, Foxtel promised Fox Classics (Ch.113) would compensate for the loss of TCM by scheduling more classic movies. It didn’t happen. Still two per night 8.30 and 10.30.

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