60-second Intro to Optus and their EPL rights
In recent news, Optus has announced their plans to live stream, and make available for on demand viewing, the English Premier League ( EPL ) to local Australian fans.
Read on in the following article to learn more. Here are the key points.
- Optus will be the exclusive primary media broadcast provider of the English Premier League, for the next three seasons. ( 2016 – 2018 inclusive. )
- The agreement is a partnership between Optus and Austrlian TV channel SBS. Optus will be broadcasting 39 exclusive matches. SBS will broadcast a small number themselves.
- Optus Subscribers will be able to watch the live matches via Optus TV with Fetch, their website and on an exclusive Optus App. ( Which they have nearly, now, developed. )
- This is a bold commercial and strategic step. Optus’ ultimate aim is to differentiate themselves from the Telstra and Vodafone. Their intention is to get people to switch to them from the other telcos to them. Industry insights suggest that the EPL might be a sport to do it.
- Content is increasingly important to the phone companies. OVO Mobile‘s ( a smaller phone company ) content led telco model draws that in to focus.
Optus & The English Premier League
For a long time, telco industry experts expected that Optus was getting ready for a direct to consumer service. There were constant rumors that they were developing a service through which customers could sign up to Optus for a subscription fee and access live Premier League content on demand.
In the end, the scuttlebut, for once, turned out to be true. In fact, some of the biggest news announced by Optus so far in 2016 has been this unique content rights deal.
The telco has finalized, communicated and now priced ( actually priced twice, as we show you below ) their plan for an exclusive English Premier League ( EPL ) coverage deal.
One live match per day will be broadcast live on the SBS network, allowing them to have first pick of the World Cup matches. SBS will also show four matches from the round of 16, two quarter-finals, both semi-finals and the final. All potential matches involving Australia will be broadcast for free, via the Freeview TV network. For fans that want to catch up on daily highlights and news, this will be exclusively broadcast on the SBS network.
Optus will be the exclusive Australian EPL right holder
The announcement earlier in 2016 by Optus and SBS, came on the back of the press release which titillated the headlines, back in November 2015. Optus had out-bid Foxtel for the rights to broadcast the English Premier League for the next three seasons. This means that Optus will be the exclusive partnership rights holder, for 2016-2017 and onward.
Here are the key high level details of the agreement. Note details of specific pricing offers are below.
Optus & The EPL: High Level Details Of the Agreement
- From August this year Australian fans that are also Optus subscribers will be able to enjoy the English Premier League through any Optus service: Broadband, Mobile Phone and Fetch TV.
- Fans of the Premier League will be given the option to sign directly up for a subscription with the telco.
- It’s been rumored that Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have all signed on as a part of the deal. Ian Wright is said to be destined for an appearance on Optus’ dedicated app and TV channel.
- At this point, a number of the finer details have not been finalized. There is still time to sort them out. Optus will be taking over the broadcasting rights for the first time, later this year in August 2016.
- Optus will become the primary EPL subscription provider in an exclusive partnership with the national broadcaster SBS.
- The English Premier League and the 2018 FIFA World Cup will also be broadcast by SBS, direct to both their Freeview TV and internet based on demand TV services.
- The agreement between SBS and Optus, will enable Optus to broadcast all 64 games of the World Cup live will also see Optus broadcasting the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
- For sports fans looking to subscribe to Optus, to catch all of the entertainment on demand, Optus will show 39 exclusive matches.
- SBS will retain the free-to-air rights to another 25 matches, which will be simulcast with Optus.
- One live match per day will be broadcast live on the SBS network, allowing them to have first pick of the World Cup matches. SBS will also show four matches from the round of 16, two quarter-finals, both semi-finals and the final.
- Not an Optus customer ? Don’t fret. Any matches involving Australia will be broadcast for free, via the Freeview TV network.
Why are Optus focused on the EPL ?
The average Aussie regards all Telco companies as pretty much the same. There is a commonly held belief that regardless of network coverage, data allowance, price and customer support, fundamentally the same service is provided by them all.
Phone users days have a number of telco options available to them. Sophisticated users are less influenced by the connection type, data speed 3G or 4G, or even who the connection provider is. To stand out and win customers in such a ‘same, same’ market, phone companies need something unique. Optus chose video content – specifically, the EPL.
The live-streamed football content will be delivered to a wide variety of compatible devices including PC, smartphone and handheld tablets. It will be available to all Australians, even those not on the Optus network, but as previously mentioned, Optus subscribers will receive a better deal, of course.
Their current situation is only going to get worse. Once the National Broadband Network is enabled nation wide, the Telco’s will only be able to compete on price, speed and customer service.
Complicating things further for Aussie Telco’s is the disruptive nature of OTT streaming services such as Netflix and Stan. The entry into the Australian market by these and similar companies has not gone unnoticed by the national carriers.
What do EPL fans look like ?
- There are 1.7 million English Premier League supporters in Australia. Soon, they will be able to tune into the game, or catch it on demand and streamed live online
- Currently, 96 percent of supporters of the EPL are aged over 15 years old and own at least one smartphone or handheld tablet device.
- 77 percent have fixed ADSL broadband in their homes and already no doubt accustomed to the habit of streaming video content on demand.
- Of EPL viewers with a fixed ADSL broadband connection, twenty percent say they are highly likely to switch ISP in the coming 12 months.
- They’re digitally savvy : Aussie EPL fans already have experience watching streaming content on their personal computers, smartphones or tablet devices.
- Football fans which are also smartphone owners are twenty percent more likely than those that are not, to switch network carriers to get this sort of content.
The make up of the average EPL viewer explains Optus’ investment
With so many different streaming providers already in the market, providing access to the EPL, customers will need to be heavily persuaded to move over to the Optus platform. In the past year, Optus has made a number of deals with different streaming video partners. Examples include providers such as Stan, Netflix, Cricket Australia, the Olympics and now EPL. None of these partnerships have done for Optus’ acquisition numbers what they would hope.
Get behind the decision Optus have made and you start to see how smart it is. Statistically, football fans of the English Premier League already view the streaming content on their computer, smartphone and tablet devices. They are a huge number of people. They’re digitally savvy and they love the sport so much, they’ll move telco to get it.
Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, commented that Optus buying the broadcast rights to the EPL was a big move and demonstrated the ambitious future direction of the network carrier. Roy Morgan provided many of the insights which caused Optus to make the EPL investments they did.
So, you love it. How can you watch the EPL ?
Thanks to Optus entering the market, fans now have more choice and are able to get their sporting fix from a premier operator.
- Fans will be able to watch the live streaming matches on demand and from a range of smartphone and handheld devices, through their TV ( with a ‘Fetch TV’ box ) or by using their Optus broadband connection.
- It’ll be broadcast via Optus’ own TV platform. They are creating a dedicated channel.
- Every EPL match will be shown in real time, live and uninterrupted.
“As the only telco in Australia to own and operate network infrastructure across all three mobile, fixed and satellite platforms, we are in a unique position to deliver the English Premier League and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, to more Australians, in more ways than ever before.” – Allen Lew, CEO, Optus.
Since Optus launched their satellite businesses, broadcasting has been a key part of their service offerings. Optus have developed a solid understanding and expertise in broadcasting, along with a long history of delivering quality programming. EPL is just the latest string in their bow. With everything under “one roof”, subscribers can stay on the Optus network and be rewarded with discounts and exclusive content, all while continuing to be a part of the Optus eco-system.
More details on the specifics of what you’ll see
Consumers know that Optus is able to deliver high quality broadcasts, to their subscribers, via the following:
- A new 24 x 7 football channel:
Optus will launch a 24/7 football channel, which will be dedicated to broadcasting the English Premier League. Not only this, it will also be carried on Optus’ subscription TV platform, Optus TV with Fetch.
- 10 sub channels:
The Optus broadcasting channel will also feature ten sub-channels, allowing Optus to accommodate every match, of every round live. This way football fans won’t miss a moment of the action on match day.
What you need to know about Optus’ EPL on Fetch TV / Mini
Optus’ Fetch TV offering is a clever way of dealing with a difficult situation. Some customers are mid term in contracts with their existing phone company. Optus’ Fetch offer avoids getting them offside.
Subscribers will be able to connect to EPL content via Optus TV with Fetch. The mini set-top box will also include access to 35 premium entertainment channels, featuring live on-demand content and the ability to rewind and pause all EPL action.
Optus TV and Fetch broadcasting the English Premier League, direct on their website, will also feature live matches for subscribers, plus news and other exclusive content, only available from Optus.
So long as competitor customers are an existing Optus mobile customer, for an additional $5 per month they can also watch the EPL matches. The additional $5 per month for eligible subscribers will give them access to the “Yes TV by Fetch Mini device”. Yes TV by Fetch Mini Device will allow Optus subscribers to watch the EPL matches streamed live to their TV once connected.
“We understand that some customers either can’t or don’t want to change their broadband providers, but still want the Premier League.” “The mini device is a great alternative, because it works on any fixed internet service in Australia and gives fans access to the Premier League live and on demand via the big screen.” – Ben White, Managing Director, Marketing & Product, Optus.
And Optus are building an app for the EPL
Just like other providers, (notably Telstra with their AFL and NRL apps) Optus will also have an exclusive App for their EPL subscribers to download and use.
The Optus EPL App for smartphones and handheld devices, will enable subscribers to access to Optus’ 24/7 EPL channel, with un-metered mobile and fixed broadband streaming of live games.
For a businesses which want access to the EPL
For commercial premises, such as clubs, pubs and bars, the Optus satellite platform will broadcast the EPL matches for patrons, in High Definition from the Optus live broadcasting network.
What if you don’t want to pay for the EPL ?
It’s clear that Optus is trying to position themselves as the markets leading provider of sports and entertainment on demand. But the question remains to be asked, do subscribers want, or need access to all of this?
But there’s a more fundamental question: Do people want this sort of thing from their phone company ? 1.7m Australians is not a small number. But there are 23 million of us. For the other 21.3 million who don’t give a damn, the most relevant question is how can I get access to the Optus network and not have to worry about subsidizing the EPL for Optus customers ? Luckily, the answer is simple. There are a number of phone companies which use the Optus Mobile network and which won’t charge you for access to the EPL. Make sure you check out their pricing – even if you love the EPL.
Optus has invested more than $1 billion in building a faster, stronger and upgraded network, delivering faster data for their users. But that network is available through a raft of phone providers, already. Bendigo Mobile, Amaysim, Yomojo and OVO Mobile all offer access to it at very competitive rates.
Optus has over-estimated football fans
Seen by many as nothing more than a concession, it would appear that Optus has over-estimated the outrage from football fans.
The initial offer from the Australian Telco, required football fans to subscribe to Optus for their internet, phone or mobile service. For EPL and football fans previously locked into another broadband carrier, this would prove to be an expensive move.
Optus’ EPL mistake – where they went wrong
In recent weeks and following the release of their first go at pricing, the response to Optus’s EPL offering have been less than enthusiastic to say the least. Optus were publically beaten from every side, the minute they released their first pricing indication.
English Premier League fans have been vocal and, on occasion abused them over social media, when it comes to the Telco’s latest streaming offering. Optus has been forced to respond to angry English Premier League fans, over their football coverage offerings. The initial pricing release required fans to be an Optus subscriber or miss out on the televised matches. EPL fans were fuming.
While Optus is now trying the classic “loss leader” approach, by offering the next session for free, the damage might already be done. The new EPL offer from Optus still kicks in next year and does not address angry fans and the requirement to sign up to Optus.
For Aussies used to a simple TV subscription and watching their favorite match, the pricing we’ve seen from Optus is overly complicated.
Industry analysts have commented that Optus’ decision to restrict their coverage of the EPL matches, was essentially holding the sport hostage. At the cost of increasing subscribers to the Telcos other services, Optus may have pushed fans too far.
Responding to angry fans Optus went into damage control mode and is offering free coverage for the next season. After their original suggestion about pricing and in consideration of the public backlash Optus appeased fans with their latest adjusted offering.
The Telco had still not determining the pricing of their satellite offering, leaving EPL fans in rural areas missing out. Opus has said that details would be made available shortly on their official website in the following month.
A contrite Optus spokesperson said “We understand that some customers either can’t, or don’t want to, change their broadband providers, but still want the Premier League. The mini device is a great alternative because it works on any fixed internet service in Australia and gives fans access to the Premier League live and on demand via the big screen.” – Ben White, Managing Director, Marketing & Product, Optus.
What will the EPL from Optus cost me ?
Both existing and new customers which take up eligible post-paid plans, or home broadband plans can subscribe to the EPL offering.
The initial free season pass to the English Premier League, will renew into a paid subscription in 2017.
- Pricing pre July 31st 2016 :
For Optus broadband and mobile subscribers who sign up to the Telco before July 31, they can take advantage of a free 2016-2017 season pass.
- Pricing post July 31st 2016 :
Football fanatics of the EPL which sign up to Optus after July 31st, will be charged $15 per month for the season pass.
- On fixed broadband :
Optus is also trying to tempt subscribers on competitor fixed home broadband networks, over to their streaming EPL service.
After the dismal first launch of their EPL broadcasting coverage, Optus is now trying a different approach.
- SIM Only plans at $30 or above will get it :
Under the new offer from Optus, customers can subscribe to a SIM only plan, which begins at around $30 a month and get access to the EPL matches..
- So will people under contract :
Customers on an eligible mobile plan of more than $30 per month, will be able to receive the EPL for no extra charge.
- Starting from next year :
A service fee will kick in. From that point, everyone will have to pay. Remember, Optus has secured the broadcasting rights in Australia for the next three seasons.
- From 2017 :
The monthly fee to enjoy the EPL matches will be $15 per month.
- And, on Optus TV from Fetch :
For Optus subscribers that want to watch the games on a big screen TV, an additional $5 per month will need to be paid, for the Fetch Mini device.
An introduction to the Optus A League deal
Optus has announced its intention to bid for the Australian broadcasting rights to the A-League. At the same time, the Telco also announced that they too will be bidding on a number of Socceroos matches, in an attempt to increase their football offerings. Fans of the A-League were quick to criticize the move, commenting on Optus’s limited A-League coverage for their own subscribers.
Allen Lew, Chief executive at Optus, was quoted as saying at the recent press conference.
“We’re looking at it seriously,” Mr Lew said. “If it makes sense and it adds value to what we are providing football fans, at a commercial deal that we feel is fair, then we will see how we can bring it across. But, it’s early days and let’s see what happens.”
Optus has planned to create a dedicated football channel for fans, which will operate 24/7 and be available via Yes TV by Fetch. By securing the broadcasting rights to the next season of the EPL, along with the Socceroos matches, Optus will be able to provide more valuable content. Mr Lew commented at the announcement, that Optus would build a content suit for their dedicated football fans.
“We will be building something around that to engage football fans when there is no live game, or nothing interesting to watch in terms of football.” – Allen Lew, Chief executive at Optus.
Are football fans happy with the Optus deal?
Not all football fans are happy with the deal, in fact Optus has faced fierce criticism over its English Premier League coverage plans. The service will only be broadcast by Optus and only available to current Optus paid subscribers. Despite customer dissatisfaction with this approach, Optus has gone on record as saying, it’s strategy change which they would not be revisiting.
Optus is not the only contender when it comes to bidding for the A-League broadcasting rights. The Ten Network has announced their interest in the A-League, broadcasting the games on Saturday nights. It has been reported that subscription providers are keen for free-to-air television, to play a more increased role in the new deal.
Telcos acquisitions and partnerships
Following the Telcos acquisition of the recent English Premier League rights, Optus has signed a deal with SBS. The deal has allowed the national television broadcaster to show one match, on free-to-air TV each week. Under the agreement, SBS is allowed to show one match each Saturday night, for the next three seasons. But Optus is not coming out of this new partnership empty handed.
The Telco has picked up the rights to broadcast FIFA events, of which include the 2018 men’s World Cup, as well as the 2019 women’s World Cup. The Football Federation Australia (FFA), has been negotiating with interested parties since late April. Meanwhile, incumbent rights holder Fox Sports, still holds first and last rights to the A-League broadcasts.
“We have been an unfalteringly strong supporter of Australian football and specifically the A-League and that dates along way back to the time when the A-League was only a glimpse in the eye of Frank Lowy.”
“We’re committed to continue to work with the FFA and the football community to build on what’s happened in the last 10 years and continue to mission of making football more popular in Australia.” – Patrick Delany, Chief Executive, Fox Sports .
Currently the World Sports Group (WSG) owns the broadcast rights to the World Cup qualifiers and these will be played out before the existing deal expires. World Sports Group also owns the rights to the Asia Cup, Asian Champions League and round three World Cup qualifiers.
The current Fox Sports agreement will see the Australian Pay TV broadcaster, show all matches, including the derbies and rivalry games. The Fox Sports deal is estimated at being worth around $40 million per season and was a four year deal, now set to expire in mid 2017. SBS currently only holds the free-to-air broadcast rights, to one match each week, live and on Friday nights.
It was only in previous weeks that it looked like SBS would be selling their free-to-air broadcasting rights. With the commercial broadcasters Ten Network, Nine Entertainment, or Seven West Media in the running. It has long been industry knowledge, that SBS has held a desire to exit the A-League, before their current broadcasting agreement expires. Last November Optus surprised many in the industry with their aggressive bidding, seeing them secure the broadcasting rights to the EPL. Optus at the time agreed to pay $63 million annually, a figure which is understood to be double a year that what Fox Sports was previously paying.
In conclusion – Optus’ EPL rights are a bold step which might just work
The purchase of these EPL rights is a dramatic to the point of being an almost sensational move for the Australian phone market. Never before has a phone company in Australia licensed football rights to differentiate themselves from the competition.
It’s a quest for diversification that has lead Optus to securing media rights with the EPL. This could be the first step in agreements with content partners which might even go further than the EPL. They’re providing more consumers with on-demand and SVOD content. The result is more viewing choices all without consumers having to chop and change different providers.
Having seen the numbers ( particularly those which talk to the number of EPL fans who might leave ), Optus’ strategy is little less than fantastic. The proportion of people who will change phone providers simply to get EPL is significant. Over time, Optus could see their customer numbers swell directly as a result of this. Which is, of course, the point.
It’s been an entertaining time for viewers, whether they work in the industry or not. We saw Optus destroyed through a poorly managed social media backlash about their original pricing. We saw Telstra punished in the media for their numerous mobile network outages. Both of these things took place during a period in which Vodafone has significantly improved its network.
It’s rare to see an Australian national carrier being as innovative as Optus has been this year. The question remains : Will this benefit existing EPL fans, converting them into paid Optus subscribers, or will it be just another one of many gimmicks employed by the telco. which goes nowhere ?