Five years after launch, Australian IPTV wholesaler Fetch TV is ready to start exporting its model and services abroad, after building good momentum at home and completing its first overseas project, an overhaul of Malaysian mobile OTT offering Astro On-The-Go.
Astro Overseas Limited – a sister company to Astro, Malaysia’s biggest pay-TV operator – is Fetch’s main backer, with a 75% stake.
Fetch is also eying entry into New Zealand, later this year or early in 2016, followed by launch into one to two additional countries each year, Fetch CEO Scott Lorson told attendees at this year’s APOS conference.
Fierce broadband competition in Australia is serving Fetch TV well, serving more than 200,000 subs via its ISP partners at present, after reaching the 100,000 mark at the end of 2013.
Lorson thinks that number can double again by the end of the year, with video content and services in the forefront of bundled services currently being marketed aggressively by Australia’s biggest telcos, as well as the country’s dominant pay-TV provider, Foxtel.
“The game has changed,” Lorson said. “It is a triple-play, broadband war breaking out for a variety of reasons. We have three of the top five telcos partnering with us exclusively. As they sell those packages, those triple plays, we are getting a beautiful ride on that curve.”
[Story continues after break]
The arrival of high-speed broadband has helped reignite pay-TV growth in Australia, notably around bundles of broadband and pay-TV while paving the way for cheaper, on-demand services.
One beneficiary is Fetch TV, a five-year-old wholesaler of IPTV which is helping telcos provide triple-play services to fend off competition from the market leader, Telstra, which also owns half of Australia’s biggest pay-TV operator Foxtel.
Fetch TV’s CEO Scott Lorson spoke to Media Business Asia on the sidelines of APOS about the changing competitive landscape for pay-TV in Australia and where Fetch goes from here, both at home and abroad.
[Main story continues]
At home, Fetch has positioned itself as an opposing force to Australia’s biggest telco, Telstra, which also owns a 50% stake in Foxtel, by providing rival ISPs with an IPTV platform that includes a 1-terabyte DVR as well as a selection of free and paid linear and catch-up services.
The competitive dynamic, providing much of Fetch’s current momentum, is unlikely to play out along the same lines in other markets.
Nonetheless, Lorson sees scope for fewer but deeper partnerships overseas, either as a product house or a platform play.
“Now is a really good time for us,” he said. “We are going to introduce a whole range of new hardware later this year, and when that hardware’s implemented, that’s the sort of thing we’ll probably take to other markets.”
The opportunity in New Zealand is more likely as an IPTV provider, although Fetch discussions on different opportunities are taking place in multiple markets, Lorson said.
“We’re getting approaches now, given our software stack and our technology capabilities, where people are saying we’d like to partner with you as you have with Astro, so you can be a product house for us; and we’re having other people saying would you like to joint venture and assist with the content aggregation, the go-to-market and so on.”
Greater scale is important to Fetch, currently installing a box and a starter pack on a per-subscriber basis as part of a triple play, where the pay-TV service is positioned as a gift of purchase for the end-consumer.
Additional revenues, from advertising and additional paid services, are shared 50/50 between Fetch and its partner.
“We survive on a thin margin but we have this beautiful exposure to the increasing utilization," Lorson said.
"Whether the person gets Netflix, TVOD, an additional pack, EST, we’re largely indifferent. We just want them to use the service more and we have upside.”