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Stan Opens Up Showtime Pipeline

A new programming pact between Australian SVOD hopeful Stan and US broadcast major CBS – demurely described by its architects as “the most significant content licensing deal in recent Australian television history” – sets the tone for ongoing content and marketing skirmishes as streaming services shake up the status quo.

Rights to upcoming series from CBS subsidiary Showtime, starting with current hit Billions (pictured), helps Stan differentiate its content portfolio.

As current contracts expire, more of Showtime’s library will migrate to Stan for the SVOD window.

In addition, the video platform also gets an exclusive license for Showtime’s brand and trademark in Australia, as part of the long-term agreement.

Stan, which launched just over 12 months ago in January 2015, had landed around 250,000 paying subs by the end of the year, according to industry analysts Media Partners Asia.

That puts it slightly ahead of Presto, a domestic rival jointly backed by pay-TV incumbent Foxtel and broadcaster and magazine publisher, Seven West Media.

Both services, however, trail the local Australian offering from global SVOD platform Netflix, which has secured a clear headstart after its own launch last March.

Presto and Stan have started commissioning original content, while leveraging the media properties of their respective backers, to set themselves apart.

Stan is a joint venture between two of Australia’s biggest media incumbents, broadcaster Nine Entertainment and publisher Fairfax Media.

Subscription-based VOD represents a hedge by Seven and Nine, owners of Australia’s most popular free TV channels, as the free-to-air ad market flattens out and key demos spend less time with commercial TV.

According to research agency Roy Morgan, free TV’s reach has slowly dipped, from 93% of Australians (14+) in 2008 to 85% in 2015.

The biggest drop was in the 25 to 34-year-old demo. Just over one in five (20.7%) eschewed free-to-air TV last year, compared with 7.6% in 2008.

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