Lachlan Murdoch squashing FTA sport for Fox’s benefit

Tallman Roar Rookie

By Tallman, Tallman is a Roar Rookie

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    In late 2010, James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch traded a few shares among themselves. As a result, Murdoch became a big player in the affairs of the Ten Network.

    Some saw this as a good thing, with fresh interest in an under-performing channel from a proven performer. Otherwise viewed it with trepidation, and saw it as a very dark day.

    Murdoch’s main television interest, of course, is the Fox network.

    Since the introduction of Channel Ten’s digital channel ONE as a free-to-air sports channel, One and Fox Sports began competing for rights and for viewers. ONE’s initial approach was aggressive, screening Indian Premier League cricket, German and Italian leagues football, NBL and NBA matches to bring joy to local basketball fans, and other big overseas sports such as baseball and the NFL.

    These were all added to the existing rights from Ten’s AFL deal.

    Anecdotally, this had some impact on subscriptions to Foxtel. Numerous pubs and clubs ended their subscriptions, instead choosing free-to-air sport and a Sky racing subscription.

    Of course, we now know that ONE’s life as a sports-only channel was short-lived. The ratings for digital networks are linked to the parent channel, so it is difficult to know what really happened.

    According to Murdoch, it was a financial dead-end having the channel. My question in response to that is, was the problem really for Channel Ten, or for Murdoch’s back pocket as filled by Fox Sports?

    Now instead of a NBL replay we have re-runs of old Get Smart, and Friday night’s sports feast is replaced by some teen movie.

    There are existing rules in place to protect media from being owned by one person or group, but Murdoch’s influences at Ten have been able to slip through. The neutering of ONE was a big part of an attempt to destroy free-to-air sport, thus giving Murdoch’s main company a stronger hold on the broadcasting market.

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • February 9th 2012 @ 5:34pm
      Matt F said | February 9th 2012 @ 5:34pm | ! Report

      It’s not difficult to understand why OneHD dropped sport at all. The ratings were horrible, mainly because most of the sports they had the rights to weren’t popular enough in the Australian mainstream. The only sport they had which was of significant interest to alot of Australians was the AFL and those games were already shown on their main channel which meant that they were just splitting the existing audience rather than growing it. Maybe if they had the A-League and the KFC BBL it may have been different. But the Bundesliga and the IPL have very small levels of support in Australia, at least too small to run a FTA TV station on.

      With OneHD well behind in the ratings against the other digital channes they started showing movies etc and realised that they were rating higher then the sports that they were already showing. It was a logical decision to show the higher rating entertainment shows then the lower rating sport.

    • February 9th 2012 @ 8:39pm
      Lou said | February 9th 2012 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

      Well said Tallman. Stations don’t expect great ratings on digital channels and it’s not like ONE HD had paid exclusive coverage-type money for these events. Clearly a strategic decision by Murdoch.

    • February 9th 2012 @ 8:48pm
      Titus said | February 9th 2012 @ 8:48pm | ! Report

      I love watching the Serie A, Bundesliga, Liverpool/Arsenal TV, but it is so hard to watch with one eye open at 2am in the morning.

      I would love to see how near live EPL at 7.30pm went on One.

    • February 10th 2012 @ 1:33am
      traread said | February 10th 2012 @ 1:33am | ! Report

      Interesting opinion. But I have to say I disagree with a bit of it. OneHD was never going to work as an all sport channel.

      Where did you get your information that OneHD effected Foxtel & Fox Sports Pub&Club subscriptions? Just so you know, it didn’t. Subscriptions over the lifespan of OneHD were flat for both, as predicted.

      It was a great attempt by Ten to try and launch a digital FTA sport channel. However, it was always going to be tough. FTA Sports channels haven’t been successful in any market globally. Period.

      OneHD was the lowest rating channel out of Seven2, SevenMate, Eleven, Go! & Gem in it’s time as a sport only channel, so for them to be able to make revenue off it, they had to change their strategy as they were running the channel at a loss. Remember that Ten is actually the ‘poorest’ out of the 3 networks.

      For Ten as a business, the current make up of the channel is best. It just sucks for us sports fans.

      Murdoch wasn’t planning on “destroying free-to-air sports”. (Murdoch, Packer & Stokes actually all have stakes in Fox Sports, if they wanted to ‘destroy FTA sports’, they would have done it already, plus they can’t. There are rules & regulations about sports that HAVE to be on FTA) He was planning on making the Ten Network a more economically sound entity, because it isn’t.
      It was a great experiment that Ten did to try and launch a FTA Sport channel, but unfortunately, they didn’t have the rights to be able to make it successful from the get-go, or the deep pockets to contend with Foxtel/FoxSports, Seven & Nine on rights moving forward.

      Foxtel & Fox Sports have more money to spend on TV rights than anyone else. They are the only Network that make a profit! Nine, Ten & Seven all run at, or close to, a loss. So One were always going to struggle in that regard.

      It’s a shame that OneHD didn’t work out, I really wish it did. But at the end of the day FTA Sport is still strong with great local & global sports & leagues such as – Cricket, NRL, AFL, Rugby, Tennis, Golf, F1, NBL. If you want to see more sport, then just get PayTV… It’s the same situation the world over unfortunately.

    • February 13th 2012 @ 11:04pm
      Tallman said | February 13th 2012 @ 11:04pm | ! Report

      Last weeks cricket clash between India and Sri Lanka has become the highest ever rated program on 9’s digital channel GEM (aimed and middle aged women)

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