As the negotiation battle for the next rugby media rights contract is waged, Foxtel has been out throwing stones in the media.
I had to laugh at the quotes attributed in the Sydney Morning Herald to Kim Williams, Foxtel’s former boss, given he seems to miss how much they reflect on Foxtel itself and perhaps even his own legacy.
“The issue with rugby that’s a challenge is the sense of self-entitlement from rugby itself,” Williams said.
“Rugby seems to deem itself as inherently worthy and therefore deserving of mountains of money and that’s a major difference to the reality.
“The real value [is] in Tests and the Bledisloe [Cup] but for the major mainstream… it’s a low-value sport. Rugby refuses to acknowledge this.”
Here’s a jab right back at you, Kim Williams. If Foxtel cancels rugby, as a 15-year Foxtel subscriber, I cancel you.
Fifteen years ago, my family watched everything Foxtel had to offer. Then my kids grew up and streaming arrived and now I find that the only thing keeping that not-so-little black box on my TV stand is laziness and rugby.
I pay Foxtel over $1000 a year for one thing: rugby. And as I now articulate it, that’s totally nuts!
So before you throw any more stones, reflect on whether the falling value of rugby to you is because of rugby itself, or because of Foxtel’s own growing irrelevance in the world, as well as the superficial nature of Foxtel’s rugby commentary and coverage.
Foxtel executives need to invest some time to go out to a Shute Shield game, or even a Sunday afternoon subbies game. There’s hundreds if not thousands of fervent rugby supporters at every game looking for more ways of consuming rugby. There’s no entitlement on display at Melwood Oval on a Sunday afternoon.
Then they need to ask themselves, if every one of these people at these games being run simultaneously all over the country watch a Wallabies Test or Bledisloe Cup game, how many are actually tuning in to Foxtel?
The sad fact is that the problem lies not with the number of people who want to watch rugby – it’s with the declining number who subscribe to Foxtel.
Foxtel’s own sense of entitlement to rugby is the issue.
Rugby is declining in part because Foxtel is failing. The only way to stop this impact on rugby is to find another way of getting rugby content to the lovers of the game at a lower price. It’s called elasticity, Mr Williams. Hit the right price point and the volume piece accelerates.
Foxtel’s price point is still sitting in the world as it existed 15 years ago. It’s time for you to wake up to a future that doesn’t need Foxtel as is exists today.
Speak to your subscribers and unfortunately you’ll find that irrelevant and entitled are two words more commonly leveled at Foxtel.