Fairfax and Nine in streaming joint venture

Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment Co announced the formation of a joint venture yesterday to launch an Australian subscription video-on-demand service to be called StreamCo, as domestic interest grows in downloaded products.

StreamCo is expected to launch next financial year and will offer a broad range of local and international programming for a fixed monthly subscription fee and no minimum term commitment.

It will be funded by an investment of $50 million each from Fairfax and Nine, and is seen as a move to head off American streaming giant Netflix before it launches in Australia, as well as a business rival to Foxtel.

Seven West Media is also looking to enter the subscription video on demand market, Seven West chief executive Tim Worner confirmed yesterday the company was in advanced talks with potential partners on a streaming product, following reports the group had been in discussions with Foxtel. Mr Worner said an announcement would be made at the appropriate time.

The Fairfax-Nine joint venture will draw on a substantial catalogue that will be available over a range of devices, including television screens, tablets, PCs and mobile, for a low fixed monthly price.

The catalogue will span TV series, movies, children and family programming, and documentaries from a wide range of leading Australian and international studios, along with content from Nine.

StreamCo will be headed by CEO Mike Sneesby and operate independently of Nine’s and Fairfax’s existing media businesses.

Mr Sneesby has had a long involvement in digital media and IPTV, including the roll-out of a pioneering IPTV platform in the Middle East, as well as many years’ experience in Australia, primarily through his role as head of corporate strategy and development at ninemsn.

StreamCo will be owned 50:50 by Nine and Fairfax and the joint venture board will include Nine CEO David Gyngell and Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood. The StreamCo business will source the bulk of its marketing and advertising requirements from its two shareholders on a commercial basis.

Mr Hywood said: “We’re delighted to join Nine in developing a compelling subscription video service. Subscription video on demand is a proven business model overseas, and we look forward to offering this service to our subscribers, and indeed all Australians.

“Fairfax will continue to seek innovative ways to engage and expand our audiences, and this is an opportunity to create value through participating in the next wave of media evolution. Nine is a fantastic partner and we look forward to working with them on StreamCo.”

Mr Sneesby said the presence of two of Australia’s prominent media companies as shareholders strengthened StreamCo’s experience base, while providing a solid marketing and promotional platform for the new service. “I look forward to revealing more details about our offering in the near future,” he said.

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