Nine Entertainment Co and Fairfax Media today revealed their Subscription Video-on-Demand service will be branded Stan.
Mike Sneesby, CEO of the StreamCo joint venture, also announced Sony Pictures Television is among the Hollywood majors that will provide content to the streaming service.
Breaking Bad’s Walter White (a Sony property) features on the home page of the website (http://www.stan.com.au), which offers a free trial, unlimited access and no ads or lock-in contracts.
Stan gets exclusive Australian rights to Sony's Better Call Saul, the prequel to Breaking Bad, which stars Bob Odenkirk as criminal lawyer Saul Goodman, set six years before he meets White. Initially he's known as Jimmy McGill, a small-time lawyer searching for his destiny and hustling to make ends meet, working with and sometimes against "fixer” Mike Ehrmantraut.
"We acquired the show on the open market in a competitive situation," Sneesby said. The Seven Network has a first-look arrangement with Sony for network series. Better Call Saul will launch in the US on AMC in February, will air in Oz hours later and has been renewed for a second season.
The platform has exclusive SVoD rights to the complete season of Breaking Bad, which will be part of its initial line-up. StreamCo's deal with Sony is broader than those two titles but Sneesby declined to reveal other shows in the package.
No launch date has yet been revealed but IF understands executives are keen to enter the market before Christmas to capitalise on the peak viewing period for pay TV and to get a head start on Netflix, which is almost certain to debut in Australia in late March.
Also, Seven West Media and Foxtel are soon expected to confirm a deal which will see the broadcaster become a partner in Foxtel’s SVoD platform Presto, which will expand its content from movies to TV series.
Actress Rebel Wilson, who accompanied Sneesby at this morning’s announcement and will front the marketing campaign, said, "I love being here to promote Stan. 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.”
Sneesby said the Stan moniker was chosen as "simple and down-to-earth," while avoiding references to technology and the "flix" suffix. The brand came out of joint brainstorming six months ago by StreamCo's in-house creative team and its agency AJF Partnership.
Asked whether Stan might resonate effectively with blokes but less so with females and families, Sneesby said, "We think that as the face of Stan Rebel is a fun and bubbly person and that will balance out that perception."
The marketing campaign will start 3-5 weeks before the launch. NBCUniversal, MGM and Roadshow are also believed to have signed deals with StreamCo, which is aiming to build a library of around 10,000 hours.
NEC and Fairfax Media have said they will each invest up to $50 million over an unspecified multi-year period, which includes spending on content, marketing and advertising.
Sneesby said the monthly fee for unlimited streaming of recently released movies, library films, TV content and documentaries, including original Australian content, will be about $10.
He has indicated the service will target the 1.4 million homes which do not subscribe to pay TV and are not big consumers of free-to-air TV.
Netflix has signed licensing deals with some of the US majors for its Australian service, which will be announced formally in the coming weeks, IF believes.