Brian Lenz and Julian Ogrin.
Since launching in May, Foxtel’s streaming service Binge has signed up more than 217,000 subscribers, primarily targeting the younger generation who never subscribed to Foxtel.
The low-cost, independently-operated platform has beefed up local content and is adding a raft of US series over the next two months.
Binge CEO Julian Ogrin and chief product officer Brian Lenz discuss the service’s growth, the most watched shows and upcoming content.
Q: Last week News Corp reported Binge had 217,000 subscribers (185,000 paying, the rest on free trials) as of August 4. How would you describe the uptake?
Julian Ogrin: We are very happy with how Binge is performing. What’s pleasing is how people are enjoying some of the binge-worthy best shows either for the first time, or all over again. Shows like Game of Thrones, Sex and the City, Modern Family and The Walking Dead.
Q: You were confident Binge would appeal to the younger segment of the population who will never be Foxtel customers and are hooked on streaming content?
JO: Binge has a fantastic value proposition, the world’s best shows from just $10 a month. There is something for everyone, including the most talked about shows such as Succession, Big Little Lies, Watchmen, and Euphoria, all of which have received Emmy nominations.
Plus top-rating shows like Chernobyl, The Wire and Band of Brothers and a fantastic library of the world’s best movies, documentaries and reality shows.
Q: So I assume the vast majority of subscribers are aged under 40, the target audience?
JO: Whilst we can’t share customer data, we have a great range of age groups enjoying our content. It is safe to say that the Binge subscriber base is looking like the streaming population.
Q: Pre-launch, Brian said: “We’re growing the total streaming market and we see very little of that coming from Foxtel.” That’s panned out?
JO: We are happy with how Binge is attracting a new audience to the platform.
Q: The FTA channels, Foxtel and other in-home entertainment platforms have seen spikes in viewing during the lockdown. Binge has benefited from that?
JO: We’ve seen great engagement in our customer base, with more than 90 per cent of the base active each month, and weekly active viewing averaging more than eight hours.
Q: At launch there was not a lot of local content, apart from Picnic at Hanging Rock, Kenny, Outback Truckers and The Real Housewives of Melbourne. Have you beefed that up?
Brian Lenz: Across Binge, we’ve been adding new content every day. We’ve added over 3,000 videos in the past two months and that pace will continue for quite some time.
We’ve continued to grow our homegrown and home-set content since launch with dramas Palm Beach and Top of the Lake and classic movies like Paperback Hero and Rabbit Proof Fence and lifestyle and reality shows like The Veronicas and Teen Mom Australia. It’ll continue to be important to us to have content that Australians can watch and see a bit of themselves in.
Q: What new shows can Binge viewers look forward to in the next few months?
BL: We have an exciting slate of content coming up with some of the big titles including DC’s Stargirl (August 25) and Doom Patrol S2 (September 3), as well as new premium dramas in Jordan Peele’s Lovecraft Country (August 17) and Ridley Scott’s TV debut, Raised by Wolves (September 3). The highly anticipated HBO miniseries The Undoing, which stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, premieres on October 26.
Q: The plan was to add children’s shows sourced from Cartoon Network, Nick Jr and CBeebies after the platform introduces a parental control function. What’s the timing on that?
BL: We’ve been adding children’s content steadily, with CBeebies added last month and a good selection of Warner content in the coming weeks. The dedicated Kids section and parental controls are still on the road map and will be confirmed as soon as we can.