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Foxtel Play Revamps To Take On OTT Rivals

Australian pay-TV incumbent Foxtel is going head-to-head with online video rivals via a big shake-up of its own OTT service, Foxtel Play.

Foxtel has already rolled out triple services and lower entry-level pricing for its core pay-TV platforms, as the likes of Netflix and domestic SVOD contenders such as Stan launched local services.

Now the company is planning even cheaper entry-level tiers for Foxtel Play, as well as low-cost streaming boxes that can integrate multiple services, as on-demand services become more popular.

At the same time, Foxtel is pushing its premium content portfolio, announcing an expanded deal with HBO as well as a drama remake of Picnic At Hanging Rock, one of Australia’s most iconic films.

Press releases in full below:


Foxtel Revolutionises Access To Subscription TV

Flexible pricing and delivery, coupled with continued commitment to content, set to boost appetite for brilliant TV

Today at the 2016 ASTRA conference, Foxtel announced a revolutionary new approach to pricing and packaging for IP delivered subscription TV service, Foxtel Play. The move is designed to increase consumer choice and to break down traditional barriers to taking up Foxtel’s services.

Foxtel CEO, Peter Tonagh shared plans to offer a new pricing model that features low cost entry points at prices that will be highly competitive with SVOD services, while still providing access to Foxtel’s superior content. 

The new entry level pricing is set to launch in December and centres on a ‘bring your own device’ and ‘bring your own bandwidth’ model with IP delivered entertainment brought to connected devices, such as a smart TV or laptop.

As part of the new IP offering Foxtel will create five different entry level tiers to match viewers’ interests including two options for drama plus one option for Lifestyle, one for Documentary and one for Kids. Beyond this, customers will also be able to take the Sports tier and the Movies tier.

Subscribers will have access to all linear channels in the tier along with all of the on-demand, catch up and library content available to that tier plus mobile access via Foxtel Go.

“Foxtel has been at the forefront of providing unrivalled entertainment to customers for more than 20 years. Our new flexible pricing and delivery will mean that even more Australians will be able to design a subscription that works for them and once they experience what we have to offer, we’re confident they’ll be hungry for more,” said Mr. Tonagh.

As part of its new delivery options, Foxtel also confirmed that it is developing a new low cost ‘puck’ to access its IP delivered content. When it launches it will have a tremendous user interface with sophisticated search and recommendation functionality.

With the new pricing, Foxtel is now providing everything from a low cost, low commitment entry point, through to the premium, high end of the subscription TV spectrum via full service cable/satellite set top boxes.

In addition, to it’s new IP pricing, Foxtel also announced that it has entered a new agreement with HBO that will give subscribers even more extensive access to the HBO’s incredible library (see separate media release).

Mr Tonagh also announced that in December Foxtel will launch a new kids app that will enable kids to have access to all of Foxtel’s great children’s content, wherever they are. By downloading the app parents will be sure that their children only have access to age appropriate programming. 


Foxtel Is The Home Of HBO 

Foxtel today announced it has further strengthened its relationship with Hollywood heavyweight HBO, by entering into a new agreement that provides even more extensive rights to HBO’s library of incredible programming. The new rights arrangements are set to kick off from 1 January 2017.

The news elevates Foxtel to Australia’s undisputed “Home of HBO”; ensuring Foxtel has access to even more HBO dramas, comedies and documentaries. In addition to current seasons of HBO shows that air on Foxtel, customers will now be able to stream their favourite HBO series, past and present via Foxtel Anytime available on demand, all the time.

The new agreement continues Foxtel’s exclusive premiere offering of first run programs by HBO including films, miniseries, full seasons, comedy specials, documentaries and talk shows and now includes comprehensive on demand rights that remove any prior programming ‘rest periods”.

HBO’s programming has been a premium fixture for Foxtel subscribers, which has brought a host of internationally acclaimed content including Game of Thrones, The Night Of, The Jinx, The Wire, VEEP, The Sopranos, True Blood, Girls, The Leftovers, Six Feet Under, True Detective, Ballers, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Rome, Entourage, Eastbound and Down, Silicon Valley and more.

Season 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones shattered viewership records on Foxtel with the final episode recording an overnight audience of 737,000 with the full season enjoying a cumulative average audience of more than 1.2 million viewers per episode.

The renewed partnership also comes as HBO’s highly anticipated reality bending drama, Westworld, is set to arrive. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, Westworld, based on the 1973 film, is a dark odyssey that looks at the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin and explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged. Westworld will air on Foxtel on Monday October 3 at 12pm AEDST, same time as the US only on showcase.

Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh said, “HBO is known for creating some of the most compelling, must-watch TV the world has ever seen and Foxtel and HBO have a shared legacy of bringing these incredible shows to Australian screens everywhere. Together, we’ve recognised the changing ways subscribers are enjoying and re-enjoying their favourite series, and our newly strengthened relationship enables us to deliver our customers all of the amazing HBO stories they love, whenever and wherever they want.”

Charles Schreger, President of Programming Sales, HBO, said, “The full value of HBO is recognised when our current and library programming live together as an offering to the consumer. With this expansion of rights, Foxtel makes available the abundance of all HBO has to offer and we know from experience that this will further elevate Foxtel’s great service. They’ve always been a forward-thinking partner and we are thrilled with what we’ve been able to accomplish.”   


Foxtel Announces Picnic At Hanging Rock

The classic Australian story arouses a bold, new television event drama 

Foxtel has green lit Picnic at Hanging Rock with FremantleMedia Australia to produce this new, premium drama as a trailblazing re-imagining of the timeless Australian novel by Joan Lindsay.

Foxtel Chief Executive Officer Peter Tonagh announced the new drama commission today in his keynote address at the 2016 ASTRA Conference in Sydney.

Picnic at Hanging Rock is in pre-production as a 6 x 60 minute event drama which has secured production investment from Screen Australia.

The drama will plunge viewers into the mysterious disappearances of three schoolgirls and their governess on Valentine’s Day 1900 and the far-reaching aftermath. 

Foxtel Head of Drama Penny Win said “We are very proud to commission this exciting television event drama exclusively for Foxtel subscribers. Like many others, I am a fan of the 1975 Australian film which was pivotal in establishing the modern Australian film industry. This series, based on the classic novel, will take viewers on a new and in depth journey into this incredibly iconic Australian story.

“Our aim is to provide a rich and diverse slate of Australian drama for our viewers and Picnic at Hanging Rock is a story that we feel will intrigue and enthral a contemporary audience.”

FremantleMedia Australia Director of Drama Jo Porter said "We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with Foxtel, Screen Australia and our distributors FremantleMedia International to bring this iconic and timeless Australian classic story to the screen for a new generation.

“It is testament to the originality of author Joan Lindsay that her novel, charting the chilling mystery of the inexplicable disappearance of the three school girls and their teacher at Hanging Rock and the secrets this event lays bare in its wake, still feels just as fresh, unsettling and relevant today. 

“Bea Christian and Alice Addison's incredible scripts are both brilliant renderings of this mystery and provocative explorations of the underlying themes of gender, control, identity and burgeoning sexuality. The producer is the highly esteemed Antonia Barnard.” 

Screen Australia Chief Executive Office Graeme Mason said: “Picnic at Hanging Rock is one of the true icons of the Australian film industry, having launched careers for the likes of Jacki Weaver and John Jarratt. The opportunity to again see this mythic tale on screens for a whole new generation was irresistible, especially in the capable hands of Australian producer Antonia Barnard and FremantleMedia executive producers Jo Porter and Anthony Ellis. With the recent success of The Kettering Incident, we’re thrilled to again be working with Foxtel to bring more premium Australian drama to television screens.”

Picnic at Hanging Rock’s executive producers are FremantleMedia Australia’s Jo Porter and Anthony Ellis and Foxtel’s Penny Win, the producer is Antonia Barnard and writers are Beatrix Christian and Alice Addison. FremantleMedia International is distributing the series worldwide. Casting is underway.

Picnic at Hanging Rock will premiere on Foxtel’s showcase channel in 2017.

Source: Foxtel