The imminent launch of Seven’s third channel 7mate is likely to put increased pressure on the market for programs. Seven CEO David Leckie has been quietly buying up programs for the new channel.
“I think it’s going to become more expensive to buy more content,” Leckie said, “But on the other hand, these channels are not going to rate as well as the primary channels so we are not paying as much”.
Nine also is expected to launch a third channel shortly – which is most likely going launch around the same time as 7mate even though the network had indicated they were waiting until 2011 for it’s launch.
The explosion of free to air digital multi channels in the last 18 months have been blamed for the stalling of the growth of Pay TV in Australia. 7mate will be the 13th free to air digital channel (excluding community TV) and Nine’s 3rd channel the 14th.
As content is spread between all of these channels, the choices for the viewer increases, while free to air networks hold onto the rights for more shows than ever before to back up the channels with adequate content. Previously, shows that the free to air networks chose not to air would end up on Pay TV sooner. Now they can use their digital channels for that content.
In a recent interview with on the Media Week TV show (seen on the Sky Business channel), Foxtel CEO Kim Williams said that the implementation of free to air multi channels has had virtually no effect on shares that Foxtel achieve, quoting a difference in the order of 0.2%. While at the same time, the digital channels cannibalise free to air’s main channels.
This in effect means, that the net amount of people watching free to air TV is hardly changing – it is merely spreading over more channels for the same amount of people thereby driving down net audiences on primary channels – while Pay TV’s net amount of people is also hardly changing.
Pay TV has the advantage over free to air TV in being able to constantly offer new and increased services which helps them draw in more revenue. While the growth of the number of Pay TV subscribers has slowed down, more subscribers are taking up additional services such as IQ2’s and multi room set ups thereby resulting in growth of turnover and profits for the business.
Sources: The Australian, Media Week