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Fetch TV readies for regional expansion

Australian pay-TV platform Fetch TV is preparing to expand its service to the New Zealand market, an opportunity that CEO Scott Lorson says the firm has been monitoring for some time. The New Zealand offering would also come with integration of the Netflix subscription streaming service, which has just been announced for the Australian market.

Lorson said that no date for a NZ launch had yet been set, but he described the move as a logical extension for Fetch TV.

“Our priority has been to achieve scale in Australia first, and support our sister companies with their technology roadmaps for the Asian markets. We are now well progressed on both of these fronts and have a very robust set of initiatives for launch in 2015 that will be highly relevant in the New Zealand market,” Lorson told CommsDay.

In Australia Fetch TV makes its platform available to ISP partners such as iiNet, Optus and Dodo as well as directly to consumers through retail outlets Harvey Norman, Domayne and Joyce Mayne. No decision has yet been made on a possible model for New Zealand, although major service providers Spark and Vodafone already
have existing subscription video on demand offerings in Lightbox and SkyTV's just-launched Neon service respectively. Harvey Norman is also a major retailer in New Zealand.

NETFLIX BOOST: In Australia, Fetch TV announced that it would be the first Australian pay-TV provider to integrate the Netflix subscription streaming service. Netflix will be available to customers that use its 2nd-generation set-top box, which now has an installed base of more than 170,000 since it launched a year ago.

Lorson has previously stated that he considered the Netflix service complementary to the Fetch TV platform and had told CommsDay last year that a tie-up was possible.
“Today’s announcement represents a significant milestone for Fetch TV and our partners, and a very exciting development for our 170,000 plus customers,’’ Lorson said. “Netflix is the clear world leader in online entertainment, with a powerful brand, compelling content, and an unparalleled reputation for innovation and disruption. Netflix perfectly complements the Fetch TV service. We are now able to offer Australian consumers a world-class integrated entertainment offering at unprecedented

Pricing for the Netflix subscription through Fetch TV has not been announced, although it will be via an additional monthly fee. Additional access to Fetch TV content is provided through free apps for iOS and Android mobile devices. Its subscribers can also watch and record free-to-air channels, access catch-up TV services, and use web based apps like YouTube for TV.

“Working with our ISP partners, iiNet, Optus and Dodo, Fetch TV has established itself as a disruptive force in the Australian entertainment market,’’ said Lorson. “We have done this by offering a differentiated and compelling entertainment experience, at a very attractive price point.’’

Fetch TV provides a TB personal video recorder with 3 digital tuners, a video store in the home with around 4,000 movies, and access to up to 38 subscription channels from major providers. The service is delivered over a broadband connection to the TV via a Fetch TV box.

Netflix business development head Bill Holmes said the company had surveyed the Australian market and was impressed by the Fetch TV service, business model, and the coalition of telco partners.

“By partnering with Fetch TV, we are making it easy for TV fans and movie lovers to watch Netflix on their televisions,” Holmes said.

The arrival of Netflix comes as competition for streaming video services intensifies on both sides of the Tasman, with new players including Stan – a joint venture between the Nine Network and Fairfax – and Lightbox and Neon in New Zealand.

Asked about similar tie-ups with other services in future, Fetch TV marketing director Sue Brenchley told CommsDay that the company would “maintain healthy dialogue with all content providers/aggregators” but added that no other SVOD deals are imminent.
“In the SVOD space, we see Netflix as the clear frontrunner and are delighted to be a launch partner. We intend to work with our ISP partners to heavily promote the Netflix service over the coming months,” she said.

Geoff Long, CommsDay