The $100 million Nine Entertainment and Fairfax streaming media company now has a name, Stan, an expected launch date of February and has made a strike against competitors by tying up a key piece of 2015 entertainment content.
Mike Sneesby, the joint venture’s CEO, won’t say exactly when the service will be up and running but he has a compelling incentive to do it by February.
Stan, formerly called StreamCo, has bought up all the Australian rights from Sony Pictures Television to the hit TV series Breaking Bad and its coming spin-off Better Call Saul which launches in the US in February.
This means that other services are blocked from the content and any move by Netflix to operate directly in Australia will be just a little more difficult because it won’t be able to offer the peak time TV series.
The launch play by the Fairfax Nine joint venture will be that Stan is the only place in Australia to be able to watch Better Call Saul, viewable here just a few hours after it’s shown in the US.
Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad and follows the life of the character Saul Goodman, the bent lawyer to crystal meth cook Walter White.
Sneesby is betting also that those who watch Better Call Saul will want to binge watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad.
Stan has bought the rights to the first and any subsequent series of Better Call Saul. A second has already been commissioned, so Stan will have exclusive rights for at least a couple of years.
The character Saul was known during Breaking Bad for his one-liners such as: “Congratulations. You are now officially the cute one of the group.”
Netflix won’t be able to offer Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul if it opens an office in Australia. Officially, Netflix says it won’t comment on rumours of its moves.
Those tens of thousands of Australians who cheat the system, by using services to disguise where they live and sign up to the US Netflix service, will still be able to see Breaking Bad that way.
So the lead-up to February will be peak sign-up for Stan.
It’s now known that Stan will be an all-you-can-eat service with one fee, around $10 per month with no contract, covering any devices in the home including tablets and smartphones.
“Our competitors would be interested to know exactly when we are launching and exactly what our price will be but those are things we are going to keep under wraps today,” Sneesby said when launching Stan today.
“We haven’t gone out to beat Netflix in the market.
“Netflix will clearly launch. There’s plenty of speculation around when that will be. They are an absolute trailblazer internationally and deserve the respect for the kind of business they are.”
The Stan platform will have thousands of hours of television and moves, some of it exclusive, Sneesby said.
Sneesby wouldn’t reveal his business plan but he has a target market of 1.5 million homes. At $10 a month, that is a target revenue of $15 million a month or about $180 million a year.
But he expects a sea of red ink for several years. He points to Foxtel which took 14 years to hit profitability but doesn’t think Stan will take that long.
Stan as brand name apparently passed the boyfriend test in that it didn’t have a negative feel to women during market testing.
“We wanted a brand that would be locally owned by Aussies but would bring international content which is what we will be bringing to the platform,” Sneesby said.
Actor Bob Odenkirk, who plays Saul Goodman, said: “We at Better Call Saul are thrilled to be a part of the Stan launch in Australia. It’s clear that Stan has done an amazing job in gathering the best TV programining.”
Stan is also using Rebel Wilson, the Australian actress and comedian, in a series of TV adverts being filmed this week.
“It’s awesome to be back in Australia and I love being here to promote Stan,” Wilson said.
“It’s not named after the Eminem song, I checked. When I was a kid we all used to binge at Sizzler, now all anyone is doing is binge-watching TV.
“So it’s great that with Stan, Australians will now have a streaming service like the kick-ass ones we already have in the US.”
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