BigPond's Basement to close


BigPond's Basement to close, by Chris Jenkins - 26th May 2004
(Credit: Australian IT)


Telstra's BigPond is set to close another of its broadband channels, with music site thebasement.com.au ceasing live broadcasts on Friday at 4pm.

Launched in 1999, thebasement.com.au had been one of BigPond's more popular broadband content channels, featuring live video and audio webcasts of radio-like music segments from a Telstra-owned Sydney studio. Thebasement.com.au was available to BigPond subscribers exempt from BigPond's download cap.

The channel was a joint venture between Telstra and content provider Chief Entertainment, owned by Sydney broadcaster Doug Mulray and former Triple M chief Hamish Cameron. Thebasement.com.au took its name from the adjacent Sydney nightclub The Basement, whose stage it used to broadcast gigs.

The club will continue to operate as normal.

Thebasement.com.au website attracted between 150,000 and 200,000 viewers per month, a level of traffic that Mr Cameron described as "moderate". However, around 600,000 users per month regularly streamed content from the site, only 100,000 of which were located in Australia, he said.

The greater prevalence of "all you can eat" broadband services in markets like the US contributed to the high proportion of overseas users, he said.

"There has been a greater grasp of this thing by countries that have embraced broadband," Mr Cameron said. In Australia, "we were probably about five minutes ahead of our time".

Although 100,000 users was around a third of Australia's broadband population, the number was insufficient to draw the advertisers that the website's business model was built on, Mr Cameron said.

"Advertisers wouldn't get out of bed for 100,000 per month and we never found a way to monetise those offshore users," he said.

The Basment nightclub's stage would continue be used by Chief Entertainment to record gigs for streaming on BigPond music, Mr Cameron said. The nightclub's website, featured as part of thebasement.com.au, will also be maintained.

Chief Entertainment would continue to develop other streaming content for Telstra, including music events, live broadcasts of V8 supercar racing and AFL matches, Mr Cameron said. "The only thing that has gone away is the concept of a 24/7 live stream," he said.

The decision to close the live channel was made jointly by Telstra and thebasement.com.au, BigPond spokesman Craig Middleton said.

Mr Cameron said then-Telstra BigPond chief Ted Pretty has offered to build the studios after seeing the live webcast operated by Sydney radio station 2WS for Mulray's program on air at thetime.

Telstra had originally wanted to build the studio at its own offices at 400 George Street, but was persuaded to build next door to the nightclub to utilise its stage and profile, Mr Cameron said. The studios cost about $1.8 million to build, he said.

The end of live webcasts from thebasment.com.au follows other content channel closures made by Telstra last year.

In June 2003 Telstra allowed agreements with content provider BeyondOnline, which provided the RedKarpet.tv and Krunch.TV and Endeavour.tv broadband channels to lapse. BeyondOnline parent Beyond International had announced it would sell the company in March 2003.

At the time, BeyondOnline blamed the poor take-up of broadband for the failure of its channels to attract an audience. Telstra said it had "learned valuable lessons" in broadband content and was "still in the experimental phase" of content provision.

 

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