Stronger competition from more free-to-air television networks seems to have put Australian subscription television in a tough spot. The recent promotion of dirt-cheap Foxtel subscriptions available online via an Xbox 360 console may be the future, or it might just be a desperate attempt to curb the declining subscriber numbers.?

Many subscription channels are still going strong, however, for now at least. Sky News’ mother company Australian News Channel posted an annual profit of $10.4 million, an increase of 14.1% on the previous financial year.

Geoffrey Bowll, ‘Captain’ of Melbourne agency Starship, regular Marketing magazine contributor and general wise man had some bleak projections for subscriber television.

“Typically what Foxtel normally do is what they’re doing now and just offer more promotions,” Bowll tells Marketing magazine. “But you can’t just keep advertising if the product is bad. The problem most people have is the repetition is too much. Their business model is history, unless they have value adds, exclusivity, they’ll suffer like every TV station. As we get faster broadband, ours is very bad at the moment, we’ll get TV shows from around the world.

“There’s about 2000 channels available right now, and it’s just a case of the public locking on to that,” Bowll continues. “As that comes upon us you’re going to have American, Japanese, tons of programs coming through your box, so Foxtel and TV channels need exclusivity more than ever. It can’t come from movies, there’s too many out there already, it’s probably going to come from sport and news. Localisation and immediacy is critical, otherwise the eyeballs will go online.”