Local media has closely been watching the announcement of the HBO deal in Australia for the last few weeks. Would it be traditional pay TV company Foxtel or upstart streamer Stan to snare the WarnerMedia deal for HBO rights in Australia? The deal would deliver not only HBO content but also access to Warner movies and other catalogue titles.
Yesterday a winner was announced: Foxtel will continue to deliver HBO content in Australia, which undoubtedly had Foxtel execs popping moderately-priced bottles of champagne.
WarnerMedia wanted to have a deal settled ahead of the US launch of HBO Max on May 27. If a deal couldn’t be sorted out in Australia, Warners were prepared to launch the streaming service in the country and go direct to consumer.
Signing the deal was likely make or break for both Foxtel and Stan.
Foxtel needed the deal badly - The entire service hinges on live sports and a general entertainment offering that has HBO at the centre of it. Without HBO, Foxtel would struggle to have many buzzy shows to promote its service with. Other issues for Foxtel: It has its own new streaming service launching in the coming weeks, Binge. Without HBO, that streaming service was going to look incredibly bare.
Meanwhile Stan needed the deal badly. Stan’s buzziest shows come via its output deal with ViacomCBS service Showtime. It is the pipeline of content that one wants if they don’t have the HBO deal. And that Showtime deal with ViacomCBS is ending soon…
Yesterday Foxtel announced that it won the HBO deal. It includes:
Foxtel continues as the exclusive Australian Home of HBO and the new exclusive licensee for Warner Bros.’ produced and distributed scripted Originals from HBO Max which will launch in the US on 27 May.
Extends exclusive rights for Warner Bros. TV and rights for Warner Bros. extensive movies catalogue.
Continuing carriage agreements supporting Foxtel’s kids’ offering with Cartoon Network and Boomerang along with expanded SVOD rights, and ongoing CNN access.
Extensive SVOD rights supports the continuing expansion of Foxtel’s on demand content and the Foxtel Group’s ambitions in streaming.
Partnership includes a commitment to scripted and non-scripted programming for Warner Bros. International Television Production in Australia.
What to watch out for next:
Not mentioned yesterday by Foxtel was the length of the deal. As reported by Zoe Samios in the Sydney Morning Herald, WarnerMedia were seeking a clause that would allow them to exit the deal if they wanted to launch their own streaming product in Australia. Was that actually part of the negotiation? And if so, was Warners successful? If they were, Foxtel may have the deal but only up until WarnerMedia decide the time is right to launch locally.
Local rumours are that ViacomCBS isn’t planning to re-sign with Stan when the contract is up at the end of the year (presumably with the intention of using Showtime content on ViacomCBS’ own new streaming service that is currently being developed). If Stan are left without Showtime, one wonders just how Stan will continue forward.
Stan is left in a very weak position. A position that feels weaker when you consider Disney’s plans for an international roll-out of Hulu to complement its Disney+ streaming service. If Hulu launches in Australia (likely), not only will that squeeze Stan considerably, but Disney now also own Fox (which includes FX). Behind HBO, the backbone of Foxtel’s service in Australia is the premium drama and comedy titles from FX. If Hulu launches locally, know that FX will be a substantial chunk of its library - there’s no way Disney will keep selling that content to Foxtel.
White Collar creator Jeff Eastin has plans. And that involves bringing back White Collar.
If you’ve been wondering whatever happened to BJ Novak, you’re not alone. Because I have been too.
But wonder no longer. He’s writing, directing, and producing an 8-episode anthology series for FX.
The project, which features a different cast in each self-contained episode, is described an anthological television series that uses the boldest issues of our times as a jumping off point to tell singular, character-driven stories about the world we live in today. The network is not providing further specifics on characters or plot lines.
It seems like everybody from The Office is on their way to getting a TV show again. Next up is probably Creed Batton who you can hire to have a chat with over Zoom or book for your next wedding and/or corporate event.
Always Be Watching subscriber Michael Meloni has sent through this fascinating website: TV Charts. You can use the site to search the imdb gradings of every episode of a TV show. Episodes appear on a grid and colour-coded based on the strength of their grading. For example, The Simpsons:
Movie star Chris Pratt is returning to television where he made a name for himself on the show’s Everwood and the Parks & Recreation COVID-19 special. His new show is a conspiracy thriller for Amazon called The Terminal List.
The Terminal List follows James Reece (Pratt) after his entire platoon of Navy SEALs is ambushed during a high-stakes covert mission. Reece returns home to his family with conflicting memories of the event and questions about his culpability. However, as new evidence comes to light, Reece discovers dark forces working against him, endangering not only his life but the lives of those he loves.