by Content Café, 25 August 2021
Each month we hear from industry insiders in Australia and abroad to get their take on content piracy. Is content protection improving? How do we stop piracy? How does Australia compare to the rest of the world? These are some of the questions we'll be exploring with leaders across the content industry.
Scott Lorson joined Fetch TV as its inaugural CEO in 2009, and has overseen the dramatic growth of Fetch TV from a start up with 6 employees, through its launch phase, to its current position as Australia’s 2nd largest Pay TV platform. Under Scott’s leadership, Fetch TV has designed and built an industry leading aggregation platform, secured content from leading local and international providers, formed distribution partnerships with 4 of the top 5 Australian ISP’s, created a dynamic and differentiated brand, and introduced a compelling consumer proposition that delivers “All your entertainment, easy.”
Scott has 18 years experience in senior roles of leading Australian telco and media organisations. Prior to joining Fetch TV, Scott worked for PBL Media where he served as CEO of Ticketek and later ACP magazines. He also served as Managing Director for Optus’s Consumer & Multi-Media (CMM) and Small and Medium Business (SMB) divisions. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley, and an MBA in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management.
I am the CEO of Fetch TV, now in my 13th year. Time flies!
Fetch is a platform and technology business, offering a best in class master aggregator proposition. Our mission is to make extraordinary entertainment simple. Fetch deploys a dual distribution BTB/DTC model. Fetch Australian distribution partners include 4 of the top 5 ISP’s, as well as the leading retailers. Fetch maintains content partnerships with the leading Australian and International providers, covering FTA, BVOD, subscription channels, SVOD, AVOD, TVOD, EST, PPV, etc.
The Fetch is the 2nd largest Pay TV operator in Australia with 700k household subscribers. The business is growing and profitable, with strong international prospect and a supportive shareholder.
Piracy has a materially adverse effect on Fetch and our partners – content companies and ISPs. Piracy fundamentally undermines the ecosystem for the provision of creative content. Pirates view the act not as theft, but a victimless crime. Clearly the prevalence of piracy chips away at the viability of the business models built on the production and distribution of creative content.
The business of content – creation and distribution – is a key part of the cultural fabric of Australia, and a major driver of economic activity locally and indeed globally. By attacking and undermining the business model, piracy threatens a critical sector of the economy and the livelihoods of those it employs.
The biggest challenge is implementation of anti-piracy measures. Pirates are agile, well-funded and resilient, with a demonstrated ability to circumvent anti-piracy measures as the best technology companies.
Anti-piracy is often a game of whack-a-mole and companies like Fetch must rely on the efforts of the collective to develop and implement measures to address the demand and supply side of the issue.
We’ve been closely involved with Paul Muller and his team in ANZSA and of course, Creative Content Australia for some years now. The work that these bodies have done in keeping piracy on the agenda, lobbying and communicating is exemplary. The very tangible steps taken to secure and implement site-blocking legislation and securing voluntary actions by leading search firms has been a game changer in both in raising awareness and frustrating access to the most egregious pirate sites.
The Fetch experience in servicing Australian foreign language segments is a clear demonstration of the impact of piracy. When we first launched our foreign language packs, the market was over 150k HH’s, and was serviced by satellite operators by offering a handful of channels and basic functionality for $50+ pm. Fetch set out to super serve these markets with compelling dual language offerings, advanced features and functionality, at a fraction of the price.
However, the entire market was decimated by the introduction of advanced streaming STB’s offering thousands of premium channels and on demand content including key shows (GOT, etc.), movies in their cinema window, and comprehensive live sport. Few legal operators have survived, paying subscriptions have declined by over 75%, and it is now largely uneconomic to service these markets legally.
I always start with “too much sport, is hardly enough”. I’ve been feasting on the AFL, NBA playoffs, Golf majors, Tour de France, Wimbledon, and of course the Olympics.
For movies, I am in a nostalgic mode atm, and am binging the podcast “The Rewatchables” and then watching the movies. I’ve gone back for classics like Goodfellas, Fight Club, A few Goodmen, Talented Mr. Ripley, The Departed, Bull Durham, The Big Lebowski, The Town, etc.
As for series, during lock down the TV is definitely “shared” (translation – I have to fight for the remote or relocate). I’ve enjoyed everything from The Queens Gambit to Luxe Listings Australia. A new season of Yellowstone, the Crown, or Line of Duty will always grab my attention.
The pace of change that and opportunities that creates for players that are customer focused, agile, and committed to partnerships. It’s quite amazing to reflect on the industry as it existed for the 25 years to 2016, and what it looks like now. I expect the next 5 years involve similar disruption and change. Customers will clearly benefit, as well producers of high quality content. The rest of the ecosystem is up for grabs, with sizeable prizes available for the winners.