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Nine’s SVOD service to launch with Better Call Saul

Better Call SaulNine Network’s upcoming A$100 million (US$86.7 million) SVOD service will launch in the new year, with the acquisition of Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul in the bag.

Nine Entertainment and joint venture partner Fairfax Media today revealed the subscription on-demand platform would be called Stan, and is the first overseas buyer of Better Call Saul, which launches on AMC in the US in February.

Stan – whose parent is JV firm StreamCo – will make episodes of the show exclusively available hours after its US bow following a deal with distributor Sony Pictures Television.

“We are delighted to have secured exclusive rights to 2015’s most anticipated new show,” said Nick Forward, content and product director at StreamCo. “We’re huge fans of Breaking Bad and can’t wait to see where Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould take some of these amazing characters next.”

Dark comedy-drama Better Call Saul is set six years before the events of Breaking Bad and follows the titular lawyer’s transformation from small-time attorney Jimmy McGill into shady criminal lawyer Saul Goodman.

This comes as StreamCo launched the Stan brand name, which CEO Mike Sneesby described as “a game-changer for entertainment in Australia.

Australia has few SVOD options, which has lead to many consumers illegally accessing overseas versions of Netflix in order to binge-watch programming. The A$10 a month Stan will now compete with Netflix, which is likely to launch officially before long (it has taken Australia rights to certain programmes already).

Forward added that “with Stan, Australians will finally have a value-for-money subscription entertainment service that makes premium content accessible to everyone. We look forward to revealing the rest of our content lineup in the coming weeks, including more fantastic first-run series and awesome exclusives”.

StreamCo has turned to Australian-born Hollywood star Rebel Wilson to aid the launch. She said: “It’s awesome to be back in Australia and I love being here to promote Stan. It’s not named after the Eminem song, I checked.

“When I was a kid we all used to binge at [restaurant chain] Sizzler, now all anyone is doing is binge-watching TV. So it’s great that with Stan, Australians will now have a streaming service like the kick-ass ones we already have in the US.”

JV partners Fairfax and Nine have an Australia media relationship going back decades. In August, Fairfax denied it was to take a strategic stake in Nine in order to gain a place on the broadcaster’s board.