Google is hoping to embed Foxtel’s forthcoming video-on-demand service Presto and internet TV offering Foxtel Play as the key broadcast content for its forthcoming digital media player, Chromecast.
Foxtel’s 50 per cent shareholder, Telstra, has led the early stage talks with Google, which began late last year. Google wishes to launch Chromecast, a dongle that plugs into the television and allows content to be watched over the web on the TV screen, later this year.
News emerged as Foxtel reported flat revenue for the half-year but boosted profits through lower costs, fewer customer defections and a rise in the number of new customers taking cheap Foxtel services over Telstra’s T-Box .
Telstra said Foxtel had delivered a 6.1 per cent increase in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation), to $468 million at the half-year on revenues 0.6 per cent higher at $1.58 billion.
Earnings growth was helped by cost savings in the wake of the acquisition of regional pay-TV group Austar and an easier comparison with 2012, when Foxtel bore the costs of rights to the 2012 London Olympics.
Foxtel, whose other 50 per cent shareholder is Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, reported a 5.2 per cent increase in subscribers to 2.55 million. That was underpinned by reduced churn and growth in Foxtel on the T-Box . This year, Foxtel will roll out Presto as well as a much-anticipated broadband service to add to its Foxtel Play and Foxtel Go services. Those cheaper offerings are designed to lure customers who cannot afford premium Foxtel packages, which cost about $100 a month. Foxtel’s aim is to increase its penetration of Australian homes above 30 per cent, where it has been hovering for several years.
Telstra said more than 360,000 households had registered for Foxtel Go – a 15 per cent increase for the half. The telco’s distribution from Foxtel’s profits for the six months ending last December was down 9.1 per cent from $55 million to $50 million, but its cable access revenue from Foxtel rose 1.6 per cent, to $60 million.