Digital Media

Telstra hikes Foxtel prices as competition for rights ramps up

​It might only be a few extra bucks a month, but is Telstra's price increase a sign that Foxtel is struggling to compete for premium rights deals?

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If you get Foxtel from Telstra for sport or "Game of Thrones," you're in for a price hike.

Telstra has announced it's upping prices, with subscribers to its top-of-the-line Platinum HD package now charged an extra AU$2 per month, and Sports subscribers having to pay an extra AU$4 per month.

But while it will mean Telstra's sports fans have to pay almost $50 more per year for the same footy games, the telco is pinning the rate hike on Foxtel.

Announcing the change, Telstra said Foxtel "recently made a decision to invest more in great content," which "translated into higher costs."

Telstra was quick to spin the benefits of Foxtel's investment, pointing to its launch of a dedicated NRL channel and Foxtel's first-run access to shows like "Game of Thrones" and "Veep" -- thanks to its rights deal with HBO.

But the cost increase could also be a sign that Foxtel is simply having to work harder to secure the kind of content that used to be a gimme back in the day when it was only competing with free-to-air networks.

As over-the-top streaming grows in popularity, more and more services are competing for the same number of eyeballs. And while the current golden era of TV has certainly brought with it a raft of new shows to bid on, services like Netflix, Stan and Foxtel are all throwing their chequebooks down for the same shows and the same sporting rights.

Foxtel recently lost the rights to cult hit "Ru Paul's Drag Race" to Stan, and the widely publicised loss of Premier League rights to Optus heralded a new era of telcos playing in the entertainment space.

And that's before we factor in online players that could be circling in the wings -- Twitter has already nabbed rights to NFL's Thursday games in the US, could it soon make a similar move in Australia?

Foxtel director of brand marketing for content and products, Rob Farmer, today said the increased competition was "healthy," but that when it comes to what shows different services could offer, "nobody is going to have everything.

"No one has the amount of live sport, new movies, new shows and complete seasons in one place that we can offer," he said, speaking at a conference in Sydney. "What we have to do ... is just always consider what makes commercial sense."

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