Optus chief executive Allen Lew is expecting the FIFA World Cup to give the telecommunications provider a boost in mobile subscribers later this year and confirmed the Singtel-owned business is interested its expanding its cricket broadcast rights.
Optus has rights to broadcast all 64 games from the World Cup in Russia, thanks to a sub-licence deal it signed with SBS in 2016 where the government-funded broadcaster retained rights to air 25 games, leaving the telco with 39 exclusive matches at the tournament.
"Australia has got quite a huge cosmopolitan population," Mr Lew told The Australian Financial Review.
"We expect a significant proportion of the population to be engaged with the World Cup. Since we've got all 64 games we'll be expecting huge engagement. That will give us another push in Q1 of next year."
The second season of its English Premier League coverage, which it beat out long-time rights holder Fox Sports for, and a deal struck with National Geographic in July 2017 helped Optus to a record quarter in postpaid handset growth for the third quarter.
Postpaid handset customers grew by 127,000 in the quarter, which was slightly offset by a 29,000 subscriber decline in the less profitable prepaid segment.
Greater mobile revenue, NBN migration payments and one-off payments received for disputes helped Optus lift net profit by 39 per cent in the three months to December 31 to $262 million. Underlying profit was up 25 per cent to $239 million.
Mr Lew said continuing investment in Optus' network, handset promotions and a mix of quality content helped drive the strong mobile result.
Mr Lew confirmed Optus was in discussions with Cricket Australia and was eyeing a greater package than it has now, as revealed by the Financial Review in August. Optus is Cricket Australia's mobile streaming partner and has rights to classic matches and replay matches which it airs on Optus Sport, via pay TV provider Fetch.
"The discussions are ongoing....we have been involved in cricket, we have some experience. We're looking at the possibility of increasing our engagement, but it has to be at the right price," Mr Lew said.
Sources said Optus is particularly keen on the Big Bash League, the rights to which Network Ten holds. It is understood Cricket Australia will not sell the Twenty20 tournament rights exclusively to anybody outside of free-to-air television, but would be open to letting some matches go to a subscription provider such as Optus or Fox Sports, which is also planning a tilt at the rights, foreshadowed by the Financial Review, as long as the free-to-air component of the deal was large.
The is article was provided by and published by the Australian Financial Review