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Podcast – Stan CEO Mike Sneesby

Hear about the origins of Stan, why original programming matters, and what the future of television in Australia could look like.

Mike Sneesby

Mike Sneesby

Find this episode of the Screen Australia Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Pocket Casts

Stan CEO Mike Sneesby has good reason to be optimistic ahead of the launch of Disney+ in Australia.

Stan (almost called Ned) launched in Australia on 26 January 2015, mere months ahead of Netflix. “I always refer to Netflix as a co-pioneer in this market,” he says on the latest episode of the Screen Australia podcast. “One of the things about SVOD in particular is provided your content is unique and differentiated and you have a great proposition, consumers will take multiple services. This is not like a choice between a mobile phone carrier.”

He says when Netflix launched, their subscriber rate lifted and together the two companies drove growth in the category. Since then, broadcasters have invested significantly in their catch-up services, there have been major additions to the market from Amazon Prime Video's (soft launch 2016, full launch mid-2018) and Apple TV+ (November 2019), plus a wealth of smaller niche SVODs.

“Disney+ will come into the market (on 19 November), they’ll help to grow the market, their investment in their new original productions and bringing more of the Disney content that Australian consumers haven’t seen on streaming platforms before, will grow the market. It’s going to be terrific for everyone,” Sneesby says.

In Stan’s journey to now, Sneesby also credits Fairfax and Nine Network, who together invested $100 million as a joint venture – and later doubled that.

“About a year into the business, we saw the market was growing even quicker than what we thought and we effectively doubled down on the business plan, invested another $100 million, to an over $200 million investment in the business,” he says.

“There are very few startup businesses that have had shareholders that have had the courage to back a venture like that and back it so significantly and I can tell you, if we hadn’t have invested in that level… it just wouldn’t have succeeded.”

Stan is also ramping up its original content with four projects set to release over summer – The Commons, The Gloaming, The Other Guy season 2 and feature True History of the Kelly Gang. This is four times the output they had over the previous two summers, where Romper Stomper and Bloom released on 1 January in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Bloom has just gone into production for a second season and Sneesby says we’re not about to see this production volume slow down, with originals key to Stan’s local strategy.

“My view is that all television in the future will be delivered over the internet, it’s just a matter of when and how, and how long that journey is going to take,” he says.

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