As the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off this Thursday, July 20, across Australia and New Zealand, major telecommunications company Optus is hoping it will provide a platform for it to rejuvenate its reputation among Australians following a torrid year.
After 10 million current and former Optus customers had their data stolen in a cyberattack in late-2022, Clive Dickens, VP product, TV and content at Optus says the key metric for success as the official broadcaster of one of the biggest events in Australian sporting history will be reviving the brand’s image.
Aided by the popularity of the Matildas and star striker and captain, Sam Kerr, research from YouGov, commissioned by technology and programmatic marketing platform, The Trade Desk has found two-thirds of Australians plan to watch the event, with millennials set to tune in at record levels.
“Both brands are deeply involved in the event,” Dickens says, referencing Optus and Optus Sport. “The metric here is not about sign-ups. The metric here is about brand,” noting the positive association of an event of such cultural significance.
“Obviously, off the back of what’s been a difficult time for our customers last year, and therefore a difficult time for the brand, this is an extremely optimistic, positive brand moment that Optus and Optus Sport will hopefully be able to bring and benefit from.”
Commercially, the hack proved to deliver a tough year for Optus, with subscribers to the telco taking a hit in the second half of 2022 and into 2023.
Despite this, Dickens says there are high levels of interest going into the tournament, with advertising 100 per cent sold out and “well above expectations” across Optus and its partner, Seven, proving a commercial boost. The company has also licensed broadcasting to venues including clubs, pubs, casinos, councils and FIFA fan sites.
Seven was the successful party for the free-to-air component, Dickens says after stiff competition including bids from four of the five free-to-air networks. Ultimately putting forward the most lucrative offer, Seven will broadcast 15 of the 64 matches, including Matildas’ games.
Partners for the tournament for both Seven and Optus Sport are Adidas, Hyundai, Rexona and Qantas, with sponsors including Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Kia, McDonald’s, Visa and Xero.
James Bayes, vice president ANZ at The Trade Desk told this masthead the tournament is set to benefit from the growing reach of broadcast video-on-demand (BVOD) services, with games on Optus Sport and Seven’s 7Plus.
“The flexibility of streaming really contributes to the number of people planning to engage with the event,” Bayes said, noting 35 per cent of the people who said that they were going to watch the event said that they’ll tune in and do that via the medium.
“I think what that says is that BVOD is increasingly a critical driver of reach when it comes to major sporting events like this, and from an advertiser’s perspective, you just can’t ignore the incremental reach and scale that’s going to deliver.”
Anathea Ruys, CEO of media buying agency UM Australia, which counts Optus and Tourism Australia as clients, says with the Matildas now the fourth most popular national team across all sports in Australia, “it’s not surprising local brands are also getting on board, and driving the excitement across the broader community”. Ruys says the association with the event will help drive “brand love”, key to Optus’ aims, per Dickens.
With traditional linear television audiences in a steady decline, networks have struggled with the battle to sell the story of BVOD and its growth, in the lead-up to the launch of the adopted industry measurement metric, VOZ, in May.
“I think the Tokyo Olympics was an incredible milestone for streaming sport in Australia that really showed audiences what the future of television consumption can be, and how streaming can really level up the experience that people have become accustomed to with linear TV,” Bayes says.
Seven’s chief revenue officer, Kurt Burnette said the joint commercial approach to the tournament with Optus Sport involved a brand-new model, informed by insights from its Olympic Games coverage.
Recent investment into sporting broadcast rights deals highlights the value of such events to the commercial television networks, particularly in a challenged advertising market, and with growing pressure from international streaming services, among others.
For Optus Sport, the challenge is different with its paid product, which was launched in 2016 after Optus outbid incumbent Foxtel for the rights to broadcast the English Premier League in Australia, beginning several years of fragmentation for viewers of the sport.
“The reason for Optus having Optus sport is really about differentiation,” says Dickens, with the service initially being offered to customers for free, before last year increasing the monthly subscription fee for non-customers to $24.99, while a monthly charge was introduced for eligible customers or the first time at $6.99 per month.
Optus does not release its subscription data for Optus Sport, though Dickens said the company is expecting “huge surges” when there is football to watch this week.
Doubling down on its commitment to its strategy, which Dickens says is “about football and Premier League”, Optus spent approximately $600 million to retain the English competition through to 2028.
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Source: Thanks smh.com