Discovery Inc’s sport network Eurosport is in discussions with Fetch TV about hosting its cycling and winter sports channels after talks with News Corp’s Foxtel failed to renew a deal.
Fetch recently expanded its carriage agreement with Discovery from two to four channels and chief executive Scott Lorson has confirmed the subscription TV provider is now looking to secure the Eurosport channel, which could offer popular alpine sports and cycling at a lower cost for fans.
“Fetch have enjoyed tremendous success by complementing Australian free-to-air sports coverage with the best of European and American sports via ESPN, Optus Sport, beIN Sport and UFC PPV,” Mr Lorson said.
“Eurosport would be another welcome addition to our sports offering,” he said, adding the Giro cycling tournament, British super bikes and Le Mans had strong appeal to local fans.
The European sports network posted a statement online on Christmas Day that the network would “love to continue bringing Eurosport to Foxtel’s passionate fans” but warned that if the pay TV provider did not continue carrying the channels past February 1 the company would announce other ways fans could watch the sport.
The channel includes European sports including skiing, football, cycling, motorsports and niche events like judo, darts and chess. Discussions between the two companies have now ended with rival Fetch looking to bring the sports to its channel.
“This is on the back for our recently announced extended agreement with Discovery Networks which will see Discovery Turbo and Investigation Discovery join The Discovery Channel and TLC on the Fetch platform,” Mr Lorson said.
Foxtel, which is 35 per cent owned by Telstra and 65 per cent by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, launched streaming sports service Kayo Sports over a year ago. Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany has described the well-designed platform as a “Netflix of sport” offering extensive coverage across a range of codes and major tournaments.
Despite the focus on sports content, Foxtel flagged plans in 2019 to reduce spending on “non-marquee” and minor sports after posting a $417 million loss in the 2018 financial year. All media companies have been under pressure amid growing competition from rival streaming services like Netflix and Nine Entertainment Co-owned Stan, and a tough advertising market. Nine is the owner of this masthead.
There has been growing speculation about whether the pay-TV service will end up buying rugby rights, with telecommunications company Singtel Optus surfacing as a competitor.
Foxtel also signed a new multi-year deal with Discovery in early-December including lifestyle, entertainment and documentary content across the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC, Investigation Discovery and Discovery Turbo. Discovery was among the first content deal signed by Foxtel when the pay-TV service launched in 1995.
A Foxtel spokesman confirmed the channel would not be available on the service from January 31 onwards, saying the viewing numbers had been “small and declining”.
“As part of our evaluation of programming, Foxtel has made the decision to prioritise sport codes where we see consistent viewer numbers,” he said.
He said Foxtel would continue to look at other options for popular European sport.
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