Stan sees growth spurt in subscribers

‘Romper Stomper’.

Three years after launch, Stan is on a roll despite the rise of Netflix. The streaming platform co-owned by Nine Entertainment Co. (NEC) and Fairfax Media has reached 930,000 active subscribers and is approaching break-even.

Stan achieved record sign-ups and viewing figures in November/December/January, boosted by three original productions: The US remake of Jungle’s Aussie comedy No Activity; season 2 of Screentime and Emu Creek Pictures Wolf Creek; and Roadshow Rough Diamond’s Romper Stomper.

CEO Mike Sneesby and his content team are discussing creative scenarios for another season of Romper Stomper with Rough Diamond’s John Edwards and Dan Edwards and he does not rule out more helpings of Wolf Creek and the local No Activity.

Today NEC reported an 83 per cent jump in Stan’s revenues for the six months to December 31 as operating costs rose by 29 per cent. Price rises last July/August resulted in an increase of more than 30 per cent in average-revenue-per-subscriber.

The number of active subscribers (which refers to current customers including those who take advantage of the 30 day free trial) jumped by 33 per cent. Of those on free trials, on average 75 per cent convert to paying customers.

NEC pointed to the strong content line-up for 2018 which kicked off with the New Year’s Day launch of Romper Stomper and includes Billions, Better Call Saul; Younger, a comedy-drama starring Sutton Foster, Hilary Duff and Debi Mazar which had not been seen in Oz until Stan picked up series 3 from Endemol Shine Australia; and Rise, a musical drama from NBCUniversal which premieres next month.

CBS All Access has commissioned a second series of No Activity, which was created by Trent O’Donnell and Patrick Brammall.

NEC and Fairfax Media each committed $50 million initially to fund the platform and have since more than doubled their investment to $110 million, which enabled the streamer to sign an exclusive, long-term output deal with CBS Corp’s Showtime and to ramp up local content commissions.

Today NEC reported a 55 per cent gain in net profit after tax to $116 million, boosted by the sale of Nine’s Willoughby site, as the network’s advertising revenue share shot up by 5 per cent to 40 per cent.

NEC CEO Hugh Marks said, “This was a strong half for Nine across our entire business. Positive free-to-air TV ratings momentum combined with our focus on the 25-54 year demographics is translating to improving revenue share. In digital, 9Now is experiencing strong revenue growth and our digital publishing business has strong growth in premium revenues in line with our future strategy. Finally, Stan is now approaching break-even and looking to further consolidate on its leading local position in this market.”