Southern Cross Austereo takes $5 million stake in telco startup.
Media group Southern Cross Austereo has taken a $5 million equity stake in startup telecommunications company OVO Mobile, with the two expected to focus on sports broadcast rights.
The new arrangement will see Southern Cross Austereo’s Triple M and Hit Network available data-free to OVO Mobile customers on its OVOPlay platform.
The telco is known for buying broadcast rights to niche sports.
Already, OVO Mobile providers its customers video and audio data-free for sports including Gymnastics Australia, Water Polo Australia, Supercheap Auto V8 Supercars team, 400 Thunder Drag Racing and World SuperBikes.
Southern Cross Austereo chief sales officer Brian Gallagher said it was attracted to the business model of offering mobile telecommunications built around a digital platform for sport content.
He described sport as the “biggest immediate synergy” between the two companies.
“Sport is integral to our Triple M network and increasingly popular on our PodcastOne network with podcasts like Howie Games,” he said.
“The days of some businesses focusing purely on content and others just being a delivery platform are running out.”
A significant proportion of its customer uptake has been thanks to Southern Cross Austereo, which it had worked with for the past 12 months, OVO chief executive Matt Jones said.
OVO Mobile launched in 2016, offering prepaid mobile phone services, and has doubled its customer base from quarter-to-quarter with “significantly more” than 50,000 using its service.
About a third of the customer base are children, using its budget kids mobile plan, with children now getting their first phone at an average 10 years old, Mr Jones said.
Another plan proving popular with customers is the 100GB for $100 plan, positioned for those “frustrated with the NBN”.
Now the two companies are in partnership, it will make Southern Cross Austereo a top five shareholder of OVO Mobile, which Mr Jones said would allow the telco to “leverage off their expertise” in the broadcasting and media space.
His view for the future is one where telecommunications companies and media companies ultimately converge completely, with telecommunications services coming as a part of a content package.
In the meantime, he said it was all about expansion – next on the telco’s wishlist as it amps up its coverage are racket sports, such as badminton, and eSports, where professional digital gamers compete.
“Our mobile offering is strong, but it’s our broadcasting focus that sets OVO apart and gives us our higher purpose, which is attracting big audiences for sports that otherwise struggle to gain traction,” he said.
With loyal fans and a focus on less-mainstream sports, he said they find it translates into new customers as well as existing customer loyalty.
Its understood the arrangement is not exclusive with discussions for future partnerships underway with overseas sports organisations, and other Australian and global media companies.
This article courtesy of Jennifer Duke and the Bendigo Advertiser. For more articles by this author click here.