Flash: Australia’s Latest Streaming Service Is Dedicated Entirely To News

Flash: Australia’s Latest Streaming Service Is Dedicated Entirely To News
Image: Foxtel

Foxtel just launched another streaming service called Flash, an aggregated assortment of 24/7 news brands that starts at 20 and is set to rise. Users will be able to log in and select whichever news channel they choose for $8 per month with no contracts, without the need for a Foxtel subscription.

The new service joins Binge and Kayo in the ever-growing stable of streaming platforms that are one foot in, one foot out of the Foxtel umbrella. Julian Ogrin, CEO of both Binge and Kayo, will also be heading up Flash.

Ogrin said 85% of Australian houses would have streaming services by 2023 and we already regularly spend seven hours per week watching paid streams. He takes this as evidence that Australians are willing to pay for premium streams and, indeed, pay for more of them.

Binge now has has 830K subscribers, leaving Kayo in the dust at closer to 100k. The Flash team said peak periods had 55,000 signups per day, with 300k concurrent streams with less than 10 seconds of delay. All in all, they support more than 50 live channels.

From launch, users can load up Flash on a smartphone, tablet, desktop or TV, with the term “Flash player” taking on a very different meaning from 10 years ago.

More than 20 news sources appeared in the announcement, ranging from Sky and Fox to RT and Al-Jazeera (full list at the bottom). Due to the polarising nature of news today, time was spent in Flash’s launch presentation and Q&A making it clear it didn’t want to alienate anyone.

Balancing the Political See-Saw

The Flash team spent effort spruiking the comprehensive range of political angles, in a bid to not scare off anyone with the Sky and Fox logos.

“Flash is a true aggregator, featuring genuine diversity,” said Ogrin.

“Flash has something for you whether your politics are progressive, centre or conservative,” said executive director Kate de Brito.

You can decide for yourself from the list of news websites if this is indeed true (see below). We’re not going to tell you where you should get your news from.

60% of the starting lineup of news sites are owned by private billionaires: Murdoch, Bloomberg and the Sahu Jain family.

How Will Flash Handle Misinformation?

At least now when Sky gets bumped off YouTube for misinformation, you can still watch it on your Flash. But snark aside, that does raise an interesting question: how will Flash handle misinformation in these hyper-polarised times?

Brian Lenz, director of product, was on hand to answer this question:

“That’s moreso an editorial question, but… fundamentally the partners we’re choosing are partners we believe we can trust, and are partners who are newsworthy, and have a lot of trust with viewers. I don’t think we’re going to choose a partner that doesn’t uphold those standards.”

It’s early days, but from that answer we can determine Flash doesn’t have a policy around misinformation and doesn’t plan to start fact-checking its partners. There are some things that Murdoch pundits do try to sneak by us daily and there’s no way around it – it’s a problem for society.

Flash Streaming Features And Channels

There’s some additional functionality for lists of favourites and categories, which may become relevant if Flash adds to its stable of news networks. With 20 news sources, it’s really not more complicated than picking the network you want from the main screen. But that number will probably go up over time.

“We’re in discussion with more great brands, both locally and globally,” said Ogrin.

Content-wise, de Brio says there’s a mix of “world news, politics, markets, sports and more”.

The full list of launch channels on Flash is:

  • Al Jazeera
  • ausbiz
  • BBC World News
  • Bloomberg TV
  • Bloomberg Quicktake
  • Channel News Asia
  • CNBC
  • CNN International
  • ET Now
  • FOX News
  • FOX SPORTS
  • GB News
  • i24NEWS
  • France24
  • news.com.au
  • NHK World
  • REA
  • Russia Today
  • Sky News Australia
  • Sky News UK
  • Sky News Extra
  • Sky News Weather
  • Storyful
  • PeopleTV
  • Times Now
  • USA Today
  • USA Today SportsWire
  • The Wall Street Journal

No details have been announced yet about bundling the Flash streaming service with Foxtel. At $8 per month, is that enough to tempt you into a dedicated news service?