Huge news today for the team at Fetch and the many millions of Telstra customers with Telstra acquiring a 51% majority stake in Fetch, announcing the Fetch platform would replace Telstra TV.

Now, the intricate details will come out over the months and year ahead, but Telstra say they are “partnering with Fetch TV, to evolve Telstra TV”, and with 800,000 Telstra TV subscribers that evolution is a big one.

They don’t say that Fetch will replace Telstra TV, instead it’s earmarked as an evolution. Likely unlike the simple Branding approach other Internet providers have with Fetch on the user Interface on the Fetch box, it’s likely Telstra will have a more aggressive “Telstra TV” rebrand for their customers.

Despite the change in ownership structure, Fetch will continue to operate standalone with Telstra as a shareholder, but Telstra’s 51% stake values the Fetch company at $100,000,000.

With over 650,000 customers on Fetch through other Internet Providers, such as Optus, or Aussie Broadband, it’s likely to cause some waves in the industry. Optus for example may not be too happy with Telstra getting info about their subscriber engagement or usage rates, but who knows!

Telstra Group Executive of Product and Technology, Kim Krogh Andersen said “Telstra TV has been successful and popular in Australian homes as it provides a simple way to discover and watch content from streaming services and free-to-air, and is a key platform for Foxtel streaming services, Kayo, Binge and Flash,”

“While the current Telstra TV product remains popular, the underlying technology platform needs to evolve to support a deeper level of engagement through content offers, account management and rewards through Telstra Plus. It also needs to support future entertainment options and be delivered via the hardware options customers want including Smart TVs,” .

“After a strategic review of our options, we have selected Fetch TV for its ability to deliver this functionality at scale for our customers, given Fetch’s software development capability, innovative roadmap and strong track record delivering capability for other Australian telco partners.

“Becoming a trusted partner in the home remains an important growth opportunity for Telstra. As homes become more digitally connected, the integration of that technology – including the Smart Modem, smart meter and a platform for streaming media which can also be used for AR, VR and the metaverse – will become even more critical. While they all do different things, if they can work together seamlessly, it will help enable customers to get the most out of their connectivity. That’s why Telstra is investing in an ‘open’ technology platform and for us to have access to an onshore team who can deliver on a relevant product roadmap for Telstra and telcos,” he said.

Over at Fetch, CEO Scott Lorson says it sets them up for a big future “This investment from Telstra will allow Fetch TV to accelerate growth and deliver a genuinely competitive Australian home and entertainment solution. Fetch has a hard-earned reputation for localisation, innovation and partnership, and today’s announcement will ensure a bright future for our subscribers, content partners, our emerging advertising partners and, importantly, for our telco and retail distribution partners,” Mr Lorson said.

It’s a massive vote of confidence in the Fetch platform, but more importantly gives Fetch scale to push hard for app releases and product development in the streaming TV game.

While Telstra TV customers will be slowly migrated to Fetch, what’s interesting is what’s different about the platforms. For example, Binge and Kayo are on Telstra TV, but not on Fetch – could this news push Telstra to bring Foxtel’s subsidiary Streammotion who run Binge and Kayo to develop their apps for the Fetch Platform.

Despite Fetch being a perceived competitor to Foxtel, it has to be argued that the 650,000+ Fetch Subscribers are a market ripe for the picking for Binge and Kayo if they were to launch on Fetch.

The Fetch Mini will be the likely direct replacement for Telstra TV as a box, with the Fetch Mighty likely to be offered on a higher subscription rate.

Fetch today said in a statement “We are excited to announce that, pending ACCC approval, Telstra is purchasing a 51% share in Fetch TV. The Fetch team will continue to operate standalone, servicing all of our existing ISP and retail customers as well as Telstra. There will be no service provider or account changes for existing Fetch customers, it will be entertainment as usual! Over the next year Telstra will start to migrate Telstra TV customers onto the Fetch platform. The new partnership will give Fetch the scale needed to continue to grow and innovate, so we can keep on delivering a great customer experience.”

Interesting times ahead!