Foxtel WordPress multisite case study

A hand is outstretched in from of the camera, holding a remote control and pointing it at a TV showing a video streaming service.

Multisite normalisation & ongoing support

About Foxtel

Foxtel is one of Australia’s most progressive and dynamic media companies, delivering a diverse subscription-based Television service to both regional and metropolitan areas over cable, satellite and broadband distribution.

The objective

Foxtel’s business requirement was to have a suite of highly responsive and stable website platforms to reflect well on their brand and deliver strong user engagement for their customers.

Project background

Sitback were tasked by Foxtel to migrate their 17 channel websites, built using the WordPress Content Management System (CMS) but using several different development approaches, over to one consolidated hosting service and codebase. This task would ultimately allow for standardised release procedures, creating fewer overheads and greater efficiencies in how issue resolution, code enhancements and platform updates were managed across all of Foxtel’s channel sites, leaving Foxtel’s publishing team to concentrate on creating great content without worrying about technical issues.

The challenge

Foxtel’s business requirement was to have a suite of highly responsive and stable website platforms to reflect well on their brand and deliver strong user engagement for their customers.

Specifically, an engagement model that would facilitate speed of delivery across website channels was needed to service growing business needs.

The challenge for Sitback’s Support & Optimisation Team was to quickly build Intellectual Property (IP) across 17 sites
with no pre-existing site, code or platform documentation available. An additional challenge would be to optimise the code base to follow best practice development and security standards and migrate all 17 sites to a new hosting vendor.

As a result of the inconsistent approach to historical development, along with a lack of uniform standards, the maintenance overhead in keeping the existing website codebase up-to-date and patched was significantly higher than it needed to be. Also, whenever any functionality shared across all 17 sites needed to be modified, or a new common feature needs to be introduced, it required that change to be implemented for each of the 17 channel sites individually.

Our approach

Sitback identified one of the existing sites to act as a Base Site, then refactored the code to create a flexible framework that could be leveraged by the rest of the suite of applications. Next, we rebuilt the remaining 16 sites using the Base Site’s framework.

Since the Base Site was already using the WordPress Parent-Child theme functionality, we utilised a Grandchild theme approach, allowing us to implement all the unique styling and functional behaviour across the individual channel sites.

Foxtel 90-day onboarding process: code audit, stakeholder workshops, Knowledgeable creation, communication strategy definition, planning and reporting cadence, 24/7 monitoring set up, Issue Tracking system training.

90-day onboarding

To facilitate Foxtel’s transition away from their previous service provider, the Support & Optimisation team ran a 90-day Onboarding process, with structured activities designed to identify risks, opportunities, and provide peace of mind throughout the process:

  • Code Hygiene Audit to identify activities for improvement
  • Code Security Audit to identify areas of risk and immediate actions to resolve
  • Engagement with 3rd parties to build relationships and coordinate future activities
  • Knowledgebase creation to capture key website platform IP
  • Implementation of a Communication Strategy with clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Scheduled monthly planning and reporting schedule
  • 24/7 Platform Monitoring and Reporting
  • Client training on Issue Tracking System and website Content Management System

The engagement provides

  • A Single Point of Contact
  • Guaranteed SLA-backed response times
  • Issue Tracking System (ITS)
  • Access to a broad range of skill sets (UX, Production, Development, SysAdmin)
  • Knowledge share within the team to ensure constant cover (cover annual leave, sick leave, etc)
  • Full transparency through monthly reporting on activities and time

“I’m very happy with the service provided by the Sitback Support & Optimisation team – they’re flexible, fast to respond to support tickets, small enough to care but large enough to have the ‘power to deliver’.”

Digital Operations Manager, Foxtel


Sitback’s Support & Optimisation team migrated 17 key channel WordPress websites including Showcase, Comedy Channel, Foxtel Movies, Fox8, History Channel, A&E, Crime & Investigation – providing reactive and proactive support along the way to improve performance, platform uptime and customer experience.

Sitback’s best practice model for Support & Optimisation services provides Foxtel channel sites with source code control, staging environments and streamlined release processes. All systems are fully patched and secure with a core code base to reduce administration overhead and improve brand consistency and speed of delivery for any new sites that need to be set up along the way.

Key site IP is documented and captured in the Foxtel Knowledgebase, with training provided to support and complement our current service offering.

Previously, code updates that were required across all 17 websites simultaneously would need to be deployed separately for each individual application. Due to a number of inefficiencies, this process could take up to three hours for every single deployment.

The website normalisation project, combined with the introduction of Sprint releases in June 2017, has resulted in a reduction in required deployments by around 60%.

Consequently, we estimate* that the average time required to update all 17 of Foxtel’s websites has been reduced by up to 96% – a considerable saving in development time – with the added advantage that all sites can now be updated simultaneously.

Since the initial migration was completed over two years ago, Sitback have continued to provide ongoing maintenance and optimisation to all 17 Foxtel sites. Rolling improvements have been made along the way to both our service delivery offering and the websites themselves:

  • User Experience optimisation
  • Functionality enhancement
  • Customer tracking and analysis
  • Responsive Design
  • Streamlined issue tracking & sprint deployments

Foxtel have enjoyed improved communication and speed of delivery through the Issue Tracking System, Single Point of Contact, SLA’s, weekly Work In Progress meetings (WIPs) and monthly strategy meetings.

*Previously: (3 hrs to deploy) X (17 sites) X (60 tickets) = 3060 hrs
Sitback way: (6 hrs to deploy, i.e. longer but smarter) X (1 parent site) X (23 sprints instead of individual tickets) = 138 hrs.

We estimate that the average development time required to update all 17 of Foxtel’s websites has been reduced by up to 96%

“A floating workforce can really slow progress down. Having a consistent point of contact at Sitback who I can speak face to face with, along with a local team, results in excellent IP Retention for our business.”

Digital Operations Manager, Foxtel

Success in practice

In mid-2017, Sitback implemented updated TV Guides incorporating ‘Record’ functionality linked to users’ Foxtel accounts and integrating Electronic Program Guide (EPG) data from all 17 channels.

The efficiencies created as a result of the streamlined code structure and deployment processes across all sites meant that an otherwise lengthy implementation of an important function for the Foxtel channel sites became a straightforward enhancement request.


Now that the family of Foxtel sites can be updated quickly and efficiently, our next consideration is to focus on optimising the user experience across the 17 applications.

Working to improve page load times, server response times, identifying slow running processes in WordPress, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Accessibility, legibility across devices, personalisation and social media integration are just a few of the areas that we are considering while building a Digital Roadmap of improvements.

The ultimate aim is to ensure the suite of sites is delivering an experience to Foxtel’s customers that is frictionless, engaging, useful and enjoyable

Foxtel website shown in a desktop computer.

Are you a multi-website brand?

Maintaining and optimising multiple separate websites can be a chore, especially when they have all been built at different times or by different teams.

If you need someone else to take this headache away, get in touch – whether it’s supporting the sites as-is, or bringing them together under a multi-site architecture, our team have the experience to help.

Contact us