Tuesday, 02 August 2022 17:06

Telstra completes Fetch TV transaction Featured

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Telstra has completed its acquisition of a 51.4% interest in Fetch TV.

In May, Telstra selected Fetch TV as a replacement for its Telstra TV platform, and agreed to put around $50 million into the company in return for a controlling interest.

In mid-July, the ACCC decided not to oppose the deal, determining that being able to offer Fetch is not a "critical" consideration for competing RSPs.

It also determined that Telstra's 35% stake in Foxtel was not important, due to competition from other services.

Fetch TV will continue to operate as a standalone business, and that Telstra TV will continue to be supported for all existing users during the transition, with Telstra offering its customers "Fetch-based products with an exciting new TV entertainment proposition in 2023."

"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," said Telstra group executive of product and technology Kim Krogh Andersen.

"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."

Fetch TV CEO Scott Lorson said "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."

Aussie Broadband, iiNet, Internode, iPrimus and Westnet offer Fetch as an add-on to their internet services. Optus paused offering new Fetch services after Telstra announced its plan.

According to Telstra, "Existing Fetch TV customers can continue to maintain their Fetch relationship directly or via their current telco." However, there is no indication of how long that will last, which is a concern for customers who have 'purchased' content through Fetch as it is only accessible from the account used for the transaction.

If the Telstra-owned Fetch subsequently decides to terminate its relationship with other RSPs, affected customers may see their libraries of tens, hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars worth of purchased movies and TV series vanish.

The way content is linked to a particular account may just have been an artifice to make the customer-RSP relationship more sticky, in which case Fetch could theoretically preserve existing purchases by allowing those customers to switch to either a direct relationship with Fetch, or – if they want to make Telstra their RSP – to the 'new' Telstra TV.

The Fetch hardware can be purchased outright from Bing Lee, Domaine, Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Joyce Mayne, and The Good Guys. In that case the billing arrangement is directly with Fetch and is independent of the RSP used.

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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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