Last month it was revealed that subscription numbers to Foxtel’s Kayo Sports had dived from 402,000 in November to just 370,000, a decline of 8%.
However, the result was dismissed by News Corp chief executive, Robert Thomson, who claimed that Kayo Sports would experience a sharp pick-up in subscriber numbers once the AFL and NRL seasons kicked off.
Since making that statement, the situation has gone from bad to worse for Kayo.
With the COVID-19 pandemic ripping through the world, multiple live sporting events have been cancelled or postponed, covering almost every code (list here).
Yesterday, this list grew further with Foxtel’s ‘jewel in the crown’ – AFL – announcing that it would suspend its season until until at least 31 May. While the NRL is yet to formerly suspend its season, with domestic travel bans in place, it seems inevitable that it will follow suit.
And then there is the Tokyo Olympics, which is almost certain to be delayed. Already, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has told athletes to prepare for Tokyo to host an Olympics next year, believing the Games cannot start this July as scheduled.
All of this spells doom for Kayo Sports, whose only competitive advantage in the crowded online streaming market is live sports. Unlike competitor streaming services, it does not have a catalogue of television shows and movies to fall back on. And with nothing of substance to offer, there is no reason for anybody to remain subscribed.
This also spells bad news for its parent Foxtel, which is slowly losing the subscription television wars to newer and more nimble competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Stan and Disney, who have stolen market share and shredded Foxtel’s margins.
There is no way to sugar coat this. Foxtel is in long-term decline, suffering both shrinking margins and falling market share.