Foxtel puts on more staff to deal with cancellations and suspensions

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 14 April 2020
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Foxtel has told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) it is increasing staff numbers to deal with the calls to cancel or suspend subscriptions.

Customers had complained to the ACCC’s COVID-19 Taskforce, which was established to deal with issues impacting consumers and businesses as a result of the pandemic, about not being able to reach the broadcaster to update their plans.

The watchdog doesn't disclose how many complaints it received, but says Foxtel, majority-owned by News Corp, has responded by increasing staff to deal with the demand.

“It [Foxtel] has assured the ACCC Taskforce it was urgently increasing call centre capacity which had been shut down because of COVID-19 lockdown measures overseas,” the ACCC statement said.

Foxtel has been hit by the pause in live sports, such as the NRL and AFL, as well as weak advertising revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

In a bid to retain subscribers, Foxtel has released a number of offers since nation-wide restrictions began, such as opening more of its library to users for free.

Last week, the broadcaster confirmed 200 roles had been cut as it restructured in the fallout from the pandemic, with another 140 staff stood down to the end of June.

According to News Corp reports, Foxtel’s total subscriber base was up 3% compared to the year prior at 2.95 million, as of December. This is including Kayo users which helped offset lower broadcast subscribers.

A majority of its subscribers, 2.27 million, were broadcast and commercial subscribers, while 343,000 were Foxtel Now subscribers, of which 334,000 were paying subscribers.

Kayo, Foxtel’s sports streaming service, was expected to get a boost with the start of competitions such as the NRL. However, Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany is expected to meet with NRL boss Todd Greenberg this week about the future of this year’s season.

AdNews has contacted Foxtel for comment.

News Corp, in a paper shared to the ASX this morning, said it expects the lack of sports events to adversely affect subscription revenue from broadcast and Kayo subscribers. Coupled with difficult economic conditions, News Corp says advertising revenue will also take a hit.

The media company also expects the closures of pubs and clubs and lower hotel occupancy in Australia to “adversely impact commercial subscription revenues”.

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