Subscribers flee Foxtel and Kayo as sport seasons cancelled due to coronavirus

Livestreaming sport channel was already losing customers, but pay TV company hopes to stem losses by opening up more content

Foxtel is opening up more content to subscribers in an attempt to stem the exodus of customers after the AFL, NRL and A-League seasons were suspended because of Covid-19.

The pay TV company relies on its local and international sport rights to drive subscriptions to Foxtel and streaming service Foxtel Now, but its sport streaming service Kayo is the product in real danger now that live sport is on hold indefinitely.

Foxtel’s majority owner, News Corp Australia, is already bracing for executive pay cuts and job losses as the advertising market collapses in the wake of the coronavirus.

In February Foxtel chief Patrick Delany was talking up Kayo as “the most successful media business to have been launched in Australia in the last 25 years”.

But without any live sport Kayo will rely on fans paying $25 a month to watch replays of big matches and sports documentaries.

@kayosports_help since theres no sport on, are there options to freeze accounts until it comes back?

— mwough22 (@mwough22) March 25, 2020

Kayo was already in a slump, losing 32,000 customers in the quarter to 5 February, a loss attributed to a slow Australian cricket season.

Foxtel is also struggling to compete with Netflix and Stan, and its broadcast and commercial subscriber base fell from 2.326m in the September quarter to 2.268m at the end of the year.

Delany said on Thursday he was confident people would keep their subscriptions because they wanted to keep the whole family entertained in these “challenging” times.

“These initiatives provide customers with an even better entertainment experience in their homes with more content, access on more screens and more data, all at no extra charge,” he said.

Until the end of May Foxtel customers will have access to all drama, entertainment, lifestyle, documentaries, kids and on-demand content, and Foxtel Now subscribers will have additional content added to their packages.

“For kids who are spending more time at home, the additional range of documentary content including BBC Earth and National Geographic will help them continue to learn more about the world around us,” Delaney said.

Subscribers will also be able to watch on more screens, and monthly data allowances for streaming and home internet for Telstra and NBN Foxtel customers have been lifted.

A spokeswoman said Kayo offered more than 15,000 hours of on-demand sports content including match and race replays.

Hey @kayosports. Genuine question. Will you guys be making your content free during this pandemic or will you expect your subscribers to fork out 25 bucks a month for no live sport? I’ll be unsubscribing ASAP if you aren’t

— Sammy 🇦🇺 (@Borgus17) March 25, 2020

“Our on-demand content is extremely popular with customers, and we expect many to pass the time reliving their favourite team glory moments, watching popular documentaries including more than 100 of the critically acclaimed ESPN 30for30 series,” she said.

Foxtel’s Fox League channel has added a new show with 38 hours of live content across the week in which league stars and broadcasters will talk about the greatest tests and State of Origin matches of all time.

Foxtel customers will also all have access to the new dedicated Sky News Covid-19 news channel along with international news from CNN, FOX News, BBC World News, Sky News UK, CNBC and Bloomberg Television.


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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