By Adam Fraser
The pace of change is so rapid, the fragmentation so systematic, it is getting hard to follow who specialises in what and who competes with who in the media landscape.
Traditional broadcast TV investing in streaming video on demand, offering catch up viewing on any device.
Streaming video on demand specialists such as Netflix offering ad free, subscription based offerings of premium content.
YouTube – the leading online video sharing social network – moving into the premium TV, paid market.
Facebook and Twitter moving heavily into live streaming; Twitter acquiring rights to premium live sports content such as the NFL; Optus (a telco) acquiring rights to the English Premier League.
Now in the local market, the original Pay TV disruptor Foxtel – itself subsequently disrupted by everything from Apple TV to Netflix – has made a major strategic shift. In a major announcement, Foxtel is overhauling the pricing strategy for its streaming video on demand player, Foxtel Play, with new offerings ranging between the $9 to $15 range. Bang in the territory of Netflix, Stan and Presto. Significantly cheaper than its set top box facilitated, traditional broadcast packages.
This is a major change; for the first time customers can bring their own device and access Foxtel via a connected TV, tablet or mobile device. No longer any need to install a set-top box or pay upfront and no minimum term fees.
As well as accessing a new more price conscious segment of the market, there is no doubt Foxtel will also self disrupt and cannibalise its own customers. Brave but necessary.
Underpinning all of this fragmentation is the core disruptive nature of the internet, and the separation it facilitates between content and its historical distribution “partner”. What we used to call “TV” can now be defined as video content accessible on multiple devices at a time of the user’s choosing. Video is no longer trapped inside a physical “television” appliance. In the same way “radio” can now be seen as audio content (podcasting) accessible on multiple devices not just a radio appliance and “newspapers” are written content previously only accessible via a printing press, now accessible anywhere.
Foxtel’s announcement is in itself only one small chess move in a decade long game theory playing out in the media sector. The magnitude of the change is another illustration of the fundamental and rapid shifting of the sands in the media landscape.