More examples of digital disruption as the Nine Television Network in Australia takes over Fairfax media – publishers of the iconic Sydney Morning Herald and the Age.
Newspapers and Television coming together is not news. Famously in the 60s, Newspapers in Australia owned TV networks. Now the tables have been turned. Nine Entertainment Company (who own channel 9, for many years the clear leader in Australian TV) has agreed to buy Fairfax for not only the mastheads, but significantly their real estate portal, Domain.com and the streaming service Stan.
Of interest was the statement from Nine’s CEO Hugh Marks saying “the main motivation was to get hold of Fairfax’s TV streaming asset Stan and its property business Domain, Nine said there were no plans to close the newspapers.” He went on to day that once the process was finished Nine will “review the scope and breadth of the combined business, to align with its strategic objectives and its digital future”.
Reading between the lines, it seems like digital and not print is the future for media in Australia. For a number of years the Fairfax digital product has been morphing into a credible digital news player. When the paper presses stop running in Australia is anybody’s guess, but with this latest merger I’d guess into the next decade Australia will no longer see “printed” newspapers.
Just this week, the Guardian announced that digital revenues exceed print for the first time, and through “donations” from readers as well as digital subscriptions they are looking more likely to return to profit.
The Australian move heralds the next decade of digital and it will be fascinating to see the new Nine with print and digital assets.
Foxtel and major shareholder Telstra might now be worried they don’t have enough of a cross-media play to drive future growth. The move from Nine is very strategic and will reshape the Australian media landscape for decades.