It’s official. Just over three months after Telstra and Fetch announced a big ownership change in the set-top box company, the ACCC has approved the purchase by Telstra of 51.4% of Fetch.
The deal is a big one for streaming and TV entertainment in Australia as it centralises a huge portion of the market under one box and is critical as Foxtel continues to establish itself as a “box” of entertainment not just a set of PayTV channels.
In approving the deal, the ACCC noted that they had “considered the overlap between Telstra TV, Fetch TV and Foxtel, which is 35% owned by Telstra. The ACCC concluded that Telstra TV, Fetch TV and Foxtel would continue to face competition from other technologies and differentiated services such as smart TV’s and hardware devices such as Amazon Firestick, Google Chromecast, Apple TV and gaming consoles.“
Telstra’s Kim Krogh Anderson talked about the scale of the existing Telstra TV Audience and how Fetch was a great acquisition for the longer term – “As part of our T25 growth strategy, home and entertainment is a core focus area for us. This acquisition gives us the opportunity to evolve Telstra TV and the experience we provide to our 800,000+ active users,” he said.
“We are also excited by the Fetch product roadmap and in-house capability and the opportunity to leverage additional investment and scale to accelerate innovation. Areas of focus include expanding the content proposition, introducing new functionality and expanding hardware options, including Smart TVs.”
Think about that for a moment, 800,000 active users. Add that to the easily 600,000 Fetch users and you have a sizeable number of homes capable of using the Fetch box for Live TV, Movie rentals, purchases, streaming apps and so much more.
Fetch TV CEO Scott Lorson sees this as an acceleration of their road-map.“With Telstra on board, Fetch is now well placed to deliver a genuinely competitive Australian home and entertainment solution with the scale to enable us to partner with global content and streaming providers. This investment will mean better commercial outcomes for the Australian streaming sector, exciting product development for our Telco and Retail partners, and a dynamically evolving best in class aggregated viewing experience for our customers,” said Mr Lorson.
The big questions though remain about those 800,000 users, along with existing ISP Partnerships.
For example, is Optus really going to be happy shipping Fetch as a set top box knowing Telstra is benefiting in whatever small way that is? Clearly that will end, with the ACCC already noting that “Optus, the third largest broadband retailer and a customer of Fetch TV, has paused offering new Fetch TV services to broadband customers. “
Will Telstra TV be replaced? On that one the FAQ from Telstra indicates a solid yes, saying “Over the next year we’ll be in touch directly to help. you migrate from your current Telstra TV to one powered by Fetch TV.“
And for me, the biggest area of growth for Fetch and for streaming generally are Kayo and Binge. These apps don’t come near Fetch because of the highly competitive Foxtel vs Anyone landscape, but with 800,000 boxes currently running Kayo and Binge, you’d have to expect Foxtel would accept the competitive risk and build out Kayo and Binge for Fetch so that they can continue those subscribers and then many many more from Fetch’s current user base.
If that happens, it will be big for Fetch.
It’s a long road ahead, but expect things to move pretty fast in the next six months or so.