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Foxtel ramps up content investment

Australian pay TV giant Foxtel today announced it will progressively double its investment in new local scripted, factual, lifestyle and entertainment content by 2018, increasing funding to record levels.

Richard Freudenstein

Richard Freudenstein

At the same time, the company signalled increased investment in acquiring international programming, particularly dramas, for its main platform and its on-demand service Anytime.

As part of a plan to triple spending on local scripted content, Foxtel will build its Australian drama slate to at least five original series each year, up from the current average of two.

Also, more money will be invested in local comedies following Open Slather, a 20-part sketch show produced by Rick McKenna and Laura Waters’ new banner McWaters Productions, which is airing on the Comedy Channel.

The budget for factual programming will also triple as Foxtel moves towards commissioning at least six new documentary series annually.

The home of Australia’s Next Top Model and The Real Housewives of Melbourne, Foxtel intends to order at least nine new entertainment series each year.

The commitment to boost spending on local and international content follows a surge in subscribers to 2.8 million as of March 31 and a lower churn rate, which flows through to the bottom line.

Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein said: “We’re passionate about growing the depth and breadth of Australian content on our platforms and we are thrilled to announce that we’re significantly boosting our investment in local commissions.

“Foxtel has been a proud producer of local content across all genres from the best in local drama and comedy to premium documentaries and reality programming.

“In an average week Foxtel broadcasts more first-run content than other subscription services broadcast in a year. This announcement means even more of that original content will be telling Australian stories.”

Foxtel did not quantify the increase in the acquisitions budget, but C21 understands it will commit significantly more funds for international content, particularly dramas.

The pay net already has an exclusive deal with HBO as well as agreements with Showtime, BBC Worldwide, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Walt Disney, CBS, Sony, Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox.

“The company’s new investment will continue to secure an ongoing slate of premium entertainment from around the world,” Foxtel said.

Foxtel’s latest drama commission is Secret City, a six-part political thriller from NBCUniversal’s Matchbox Pictures, which will star Anna Torv (Foxtel’s Deadline Gallipoli), Damon Herriman (Justified, The Water Diviner) and Dan Wyllie (Puberty Blues).

On Monday Foxtel confirmed it will acquire a 15% stake in broadcaster Network Ten, which raises the prospect of joint acquisitions.

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