Can Stan survive in Australia’s crowded streaming market?

Locally owned video-on-demand streaming service, Stan, is an Australian success story.

Since its formation in 2014 as a joint venture between Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment, Stan has enjoyed strong growth. It reached 4.4 million subscribers as at May 2020, according to Roy Morgan, and is quickly catching up to local stalwart Foxtel:

Despite this explosive growth, Stan’s future is looking shaky.

In November 2019, Stan lost Marvel content when Disney Plus launched in Australia.

In May this year, Stan lost its bid against Foxtel for exclusive rights to stream Warner Bros, HBO, HBO Max and WarnerMedia content. In the process, Stan also lost some WarnerMedia programs from its platform.

Then in June, Stan lost its exclusive deal with ViacomCBS to stream Showtime content. As a result, Stan will be forced to de-list around 500 hours worth of content from its service at the end of this year.

To add insult to injury, ViacomCBS has announced plans to launch in Australia next year, thus adding even more competitive pressure to an already crowded streaming market:

ViacomCBS Networks International has unveiled plans for a premium SVOD service for all audiences, underpinned by major output deals with Showtime and CBS All Access and a “super-sized” selection of content from ViacomCBS brands including CBS, MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and some first-run Paramount films.

The new platform, which was discussed by ViacomCBS CEO Bob Bakish on the company’s earnings call on Thursday, will offer exclusive premieres of all Showtime titles, including new series “Halo” and “American Rust,” as well as CBS All Access originals like “Guilty Party” and “The Harper House.” To date, many of these originals have been sold to third-party global platforms and broadcasters in hugely lucrative output deals, and questions will now be raised about the future of these pacts.

Stan desperately needs to secure content deals to bolster its catalogue. Failure to do so threatens its very survival in Australia’s increasingly crowded online streaming market.

Leith van Onselen
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Comments

  1. Hard to see it surviving. More likely it would be taken over. It only ever existed because it wasn’t a threat to the big boys while they were working out their own streaming offerings.

  2. Content is king. ITV pulled a lot of content from Netflix for their Britbox platform. I’m hoping, like a shed load of other investors, that ITV get purchased.

    Can’t see Stan surviving either unfortunately.

  3. PalimpsestMEMBER

    This is getting silly as more and more platforms think I should subscribe. If I did it would cost a fortune. Not that I have the time anyway.

    • It’s simple, but streaming has been in the ascendancy the last few years because it offered convenience and value for money. Being able to watch what we want, when we want, without annoying ads has been a winning proposition worth paying $10-$30 a month for.

      But with the fragmentation of the market into many different services, each which might only have one or two things worth watching, it is no longer convenient for the customer and will cost them a fortune.

      Unless there is a consolidation of services, wide-scale piracy will come back with a vengeance.

  4. Ulrike Meinhof

    I tried Stan for a 30 day trial and concluded after about 20 days that I’d watched most of the content I was interested in watching so I dropped the service.
    There’s not much hope for a long and glorious future if the available content can’t even keep my interest for 1 month.
    What I noticed was that a heck of a lot of the better Stan content is already available for free streaming on SBS or ABC. unfortunately what’s left after you watch the few must see series is complete rubbish, it’s not even youtube worthy.

  5. I will always appreciate Stan for providing the third season of Twin Peaks.

    I had Stan for a little bit after the end of Twin Peaks – not bad value.

  6. Stan’s problem is that Australia is a little too big.

    eBay came to Australia but they didn’t go to NZ, hence TradeMe.

    Stan’s business plan is to buy content not make it – that made sense when the big folks ignored Australia but that has now changed.

    Foxtel does do some content aimed directly at Australians – Sports and their Lifestyle / Property channel show you all you need here!

    Stan should go big or get themselves sold …

    • Maybe they should cater to the New Australian market – buying up cheap telenovella episodes and Bollywood dross.

  7. scootytootyMEMBER

    Disney has gone on a studio buying binge to starve the other platforms but i can’t see much content coming from them that’s more than an extension of existing stories and worlds. They’re just getting existing fans on board, so i don’t know how they intend to attract new customers outside of just buying them all. Netflix has turned into a virtue signaling load of diversity check box rubbish, i only have it for rick and morty now. Stan actually seems good, apart from my wife watching Grey’s anatomy constantly for the last 6 weeks. Foxtel can die. Will be interesting who becomes top dog. My money’s on Disney.