The death knell tolls for Foxtel

With Foxtel already reeling from the AFL postponing its season until at least 31 May, the NRL yesterday also postponed its 2020 season indefinitely.

AFL and NRL are undoubtedly Foxtel’s jewels when it comes to live sports broadcasting. Therefore, the closure of both codes presents a death blow to its Kayo Sports streaming service, whose subscriber base had already shrunk by 8%, from 402,000 in November to just 370,000 as at February.

To add insult to injury, the NRL’s pandemic expert has predicted there will be no further live sport in Australia as the nation goes into lock down to fight the coronavirus:

The NRL on Monday shut down the 2020 season indefinitely on the back of a strong recommendation from the biosecurity and pandemic professor, who was hired to advise the league during its coronavirus crisis.

Now the same pandemic expert has reportedly predicted sport across the country won’t be cleared to resume until 2021 — likely killing off the 2020 NRL season.

“I don’t think it’s going to be this year,” the professor told The Sydney Morning Herald under the condition of anonymity.

“I think we will be dealing with this epidemic for the better part of this year. I’m really hoping we will have a vaccine next year. The idea is to manage the catastrophic disruption to society until we can vaccinate people and protect them. Then we can resume normal societal functions — like sport. But that won’t be any time this year.”

The situation is being replicated across the globe, with major fixtures like the NBA and the EPL also in shutdown (full list here). The 2020 Tokyo Olympics has also been called off and will likely not run until summer 2021.

Foxtel’s competitive advantage has always rested on its dominance in live sports. However, with no live sports taking place in 2020, there is no reason to subscribe to Foxtel’s dedicated Kayo Sports service, as well as less reason to subscribe to Foxtel’s traditional full service cable television offering.

With Foxtel already swimming in $2.3 billion of debt, and confronting a massive drop-off in subscriber numbers, surely its days are now numbered.

Leith van Onselen
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  1. surflessMEMBER

    If Foxtel disappears so does all Murdoch’s tabloids in Australia neither can survive with out each other. Given the amount of disinformation murdoch media outlets have dished out prior to and during crisis’s, crocodile tears.

  2. Rupert won’t let it die while he is still alive.

    Still, they should be offering existing clients a loyalty discount – something like keep paying your subs now and when NRL/AFL comes back we’ll give you the equivalent of $10 a week that is was off.

  3. I recently gave up Foxtel after some 15 years. I had to move house and discovered that I could on get a standard Foxtel box at the apartment I was moving to (i.e. no HD, recording etc). Foxtel still wanted to me continue on some $100 a month subscription. I declined given I only required Foxtel for sports. I planned on getting Kayo – but with no live sport anytime soon – I will not be getting that either.

  4. Tassie TomMEMBER

    In Rugby League all you would need is for one player to have the disease and by the end of the game every player in the opposition and half the players in their own team would have it. Have you seen how close their faces are every time they tackle? And these are people running their guts out, puffing heaps of infected droplets into their immediate surrounds.

    With over a thousand known cases in NSW (so probably 10,000 unknown cases) one of them has got to be a rugby league player. Possibly caught it sharing a straw to snort coke? This would spread through the entire league like wildfire.

    NRL was always going to get paused.

  5. By the way, it’s not just Foxtel. For instance 3AW pretty much let all their AFL people go or forced to take pay cuts yesterday.

    I’d expect the newspapers to do similar things with their sports departments too.

    • darklydrawlMEMBER

      Channel 7’s OB (Outside Broadast) dept would be getting gutted as well. There are a stack of people who work in Broadcast TV covering live sport (in-particular the AFL). I reckon hundreds of them are being stood down.

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