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  • Intellectual Property, Internet, News - Written by on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 15:11 - 43 Comments

    Finally, Foxtel launches full IPTV service

    foxtelplay

    news Pay TV giant Foxtel has launched an Internet streaming version of its service that will allow those with certain smart TVs, gaming consoles or generic personal computers connected to their TVs to access a large chunk of the company’s content through the public Internet, without the normal requirement to have a Foxtel cable or satellite connection.

    Dubbed ‘Foxtel Play’, the service went live this morning, although Foxtel is planning an ‘official launch’ on 11 August.

    According to a media release issued by the company this morning, the service will initially be availbel to “eligible Samsung Smart TVs, Xbox 360 and PC and Mac computers”, with “eligible LG smart TVs” to be supported soon. It offers customers access to content “as soon as they sign up” and does not feature a lock-in contract or installation costs, unlike Foxtel’s normal cable or satellite television services. Instead, customers are able to subscribe to Play’s various channels on a monthly basis, with prices starting at $25 per month. Foxtel says customers can start or stop their subscription at any time, and Foxtel is offering a free seven day trial for new subscribers.

    Foxtel said that “a new flexible package structure” will allow customers to choose from four basic genre-based packages priced at $25 for one topic, $35 for two, $45 for three and $50 for four. Sport and Premium Drama and Movies channels can be purchased for a further $25 each. “This means that a sports or movies enthusiast can now get Foxtel’s comprehensive offering in one of those genres plus a range of additional channels of their choosing in one basic genre-based package for $50 per month or less than $12 per week,” the company said.
     
    Foxtel Play packages will feature over 40 live channels including Fox Sports 1, 2 and 3, Foxtel Movie channels, Showcase, FOX8, Arena, Lifestyle, History, Discovery, A&E, National Geographic, UKTV, FX, SoHo, MTV, Universal Channel, ESPN, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel and hundreds of catch up video on-demand titles.
     
    Foxtel also noted that its Foxtel Go service will be available to Foxtel Play subscribers as part of their subscription. Customers can access Foxtel Go on up to two registered devices including iPads and selected iPhones and selected Samsung smartphones and tablets. The service is intended as a mobile complement to Foxtel’s existing offerings.
     
    Richard Freudenstein, Foxtel chief executive said: “We’re thrilled to offer Foxtel Play as a new way to introduce more people to our unparalleled programming. Our core set-top box subscribers are already experiencing great features, including Foxtel Go and On Demand.  Now, Foxtel Play gives even more Australians who might not be able to access the core service the freedom and flexibility to enjoy Foxtel across multiple connected devices and at price points to suit different budgets and tastes.”
     
    Jim Rudder, Foxtel executive director of product added, “Foxtel Play broadens our internet TV service and gives customers a Foxtel internet TV offering across a host of devices.  We’ve also had fantastic feedback to Foxtel Go since its launch and have responded by upping the number and type of devices customers can use to access it.”

    One of Foxtel’s existing rivals, IPTV and DVD rental company Quickflix, has already responded to the news of Play’s launch. The company issued a statement this morning noting that it was confident that “it remains a better quality and better value proposition for movie and TV lovers than the new arrival”.

    Quickflix chief executive Stephen Langsford said: “Foxtel’s entry into the market is acknowledgement by a major industry player that there is consumer demand for “over the top” internet delivered services at a lower price point than expensive traditional payTV requiring a set top box and long-term contract.”

    “Foxtel’s entry will assist in building consumer awareness of the streaming category and that in turn will assist demand for all services in the category, including Quickflix. We also welcome competition. We have a great competitive offer but we have to keep on working hard innovating and improving the service as we go”.

    Quickflix’s statement also included a range of criticisms of the Play service. It noted that Foxtel’s service started at $25 per month for a basic package, while Quickflix’s entry level cost was $14.99. That cost gives Quickflix subscribers access to unlimited Internet streaming options, but also includes a one-DVD-at-a-time subscription to the company’s extensive DVD rental library.

    In addition, Quickflix stated that Play’s $25 package did not appear to be a simple “all you can eat” offering. unlike its own. “The customer must limit their selection to various genres, which goes against customer’s viewing habits,” said Quickflix. “Furthermore the ‘Foxtel Play’ $25 package is for the basic Foxtel package with additional package selections at $35 – $50 per month.”

    In contrast, Quickflix said its service was simple. “For $14.99 consumers can choose from over 60,000 of the latest release and classic movie and TV DVD and Blu-ray titles, stream a range of movie and TV series including some of the best of HBO,” the company said. “For a few dollars more they can also stream latest release movies and current season’s TV through Quickflix or just access content this way without the need for a subscription at all.”

    There are also technical differences between the two services. Quickflix stated in its release: “Quickflix also believes access is important, and that’s why it offers customers the widest possible access of any streaming service in the market, across Smart TVs like Samsung, Panasonic and Sony, game consoles like Xbox and PS3 and a host of mobile and tablet devices.”

    opinion/analysis
    I haven’t really checked out Play in any depth, but what I will say initially is that it appears to represent something close of a straight port of Foxtel’s existing subscription television service across to IPTV. It should be obvious by now that this isn’t really what customers want — if that’s what they wanted, then they probably would have already subscribed to Foxtel’s infrastructure-based platform. Some customers want a smorgasboard, but what the evolving generation of younger customers want — and bear in mind when I say “younger”, what I’m really talking about is the generation of people below about 45 — is on-demand content. They don’t want a category of sci-fi/fantasy television shows, they want Game of Thrones. They don’t want a sport category. They want the English Premier League specifically. And so on.

    However, what is also true about Play is that it is, on the face of it, substantially cheaper than Foxtel’s infrastructure-based service. Play starts at $25 per month and ranges up to $50, plus you’ll pay more for some of the more premium content offerings. Foxtel’s non-IP service starts at $47 per month and ranges up to $109.50. In short, with Play, the base cost is a little cheaper and you can customise things a little more, compared with Foxtel’s traditional offerings.

    Offsetting this, of course, is the cost of your broadband package. Foxtel can afford to cut the price of Play a little — because it’s not actually delivering the content; your ISP is. And unlike with similar service FetchTV, Foxtel doesn’t appear to have cut deals with the major ISPs to take into account the cost of quota. The result is that you’ll need to watch your data usage when using the service.

    Let me say this for now: The jury is still out on Play. It delivers a fairly standard Foxtel service over a different platform, and for a lesser cost. But do people still want Foxtel? Personally, I don’t think so; certainly I see no need for it in our family’s viewing habits. But there may be areas where they will. Sport, for example. It’ll be interesting to see what the uptake will be like on Play. I’m predicting it will be minimal. But then, I’m often wrong ;)

    Image credit: Foxtel

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    43 Comments

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    1. Ray Herring
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink |

      About freakin’ time. This is what i have been saying to those foxtel booths at my local shopping centres, what i have said to friends, etc….

      If Foxtel just allowed us to pay per channel, and choose what we want instead of having crap channels that we will never watch, they will get more people.

      The fact that they have chosen to do this model on an IPTV offering makes it all the more interesting. What will matter now though, is whether ISPs will ink a deal with Foxtel to offer it quota-free to their customers.

      • GongGav
        Posted 31/07/2013 at 11:14 am | Permalink |

        Its not pay per channel, its pay per package – so if you just want the single discovery channel, you’re going to need to buy the set of 5 discovery channels (at, say $15 a month) to get that one you want.

        Or more relvant, buy the movie package to get Showtime so you can watch GoT.

        The last pay per channel service I can remember was SelecTV, which didnt work here at all. Works great in the US though. Was ahead of its time here, now would be the perfect time to relaunch it.

    2. Ray Herring
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:20 pm | Permalink |

      Just doing the whole ‘what will it cost me thing’ on their website, 2 picks + premium (so for me, kids + documentaries + movies) will set me back 60 a month, not a bad thing really, as it means i don’t end up paying for sports channels i will never watch or music channels i will never watch.

      Would be nice if they lowered the prices a little bit, but oh well.

      • AJ
        Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink |

        Umm that price is basically the same as normal foxtel + Movies according to their packages I fail to see it as good as you have never had to pay for sport if you did not want to.

        When compared to Netflix or hulu at $8 a month it is nowhere near good or reasonable with sport being the only differentiator when compared to Netflix or hulu. I would pay $25 for sports but that is it

    3. Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink |

      I think I will likely just be sticking with a VPN and Netflix/Hulu accounts, still ends up cheaper than the base cost of Foxtel Play.

      • PeterA
        Posted 31/07/2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink |

        +1 Netflix provides me what I choose, not what they choose for me.

    4. Tinman_au
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink |

      And the perfect compliment to this would of course be……….FTTP.

      • Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink |

        Mate I swear, if you try and turn this article into an NBN debate, I will kick your ass ;) Serious.

        • Tinman_au
          Posted 30/07/2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink |

          Well, it was an obvious point to make :o)

          They do still need to work on the pricing a little though.

          I mentioned this article at work today, and pretty well everyone said “Oh, so you can get the channels you want now??”, and everyone lost interest when I told them it was still “Pay per Package” based. I think they’d get more viewers than FTA in Australia if they ever bring in a “Pay per Channel” model.

          • GongGav
            Posted 31/07/2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink |

            Made me laugh Tinny :)

            There’s also the issue of download limits, in which case Telstra will win out again when they announce that streaming of this service isnt counted against downloads. The fine print will be that it only applies if you have the relevant Bigpond package that includes home phone, internet, Foxtel, Foxtel Play, the relevant tablet/phone, and are willing to sign over naming rights to your firstborn.

      • looktall
        Posted 01/08/2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink |

        this is relevant…

        http://www.zdnet.com/au/hd-foxtel-play-waits-on-better-broadband-7000018841/

    5. Mash
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink |

      I’d see it as a good start. We need IPTV to “kick off” in this country and it is great foxtel are dipping their toes in the water. Competitively it now exposes them more directly to Netflix etc but also I can’t see them ever withdrawing from the IP market now they are in it. Interesting times ahead.

    6. Frank Farrina
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink |

      “They don’t want a category of sci-fi/fantasy television shows, they want Game of Thrones. They don’t want a sport category. They want the English Premier League specifically.”

      Can’t +1 this enough!

    7. Posted 30/07/2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink |

      So essentially it gives me a few more channels than Fetch that I don’t want to watch, at a massively higher price, that can only be used on devices I don’t have (well I have a PC, but if I’m paying that much for Foxtel I want to watch it on my TV easily, ie. with a set top box).

      This looks like a massive opportunity wasted, better to just get a cable or satellite connection for the same thing.

    8. Posted 30/07/2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink |

      I still want cheaper sport. Pay per view or on demand. So I can watch a few games a month. I’d pay $5 a game as a starting price

      • Rhys
        Posted 31/07/2013 at 7:29 am | Permalink |

        $5 a games a bit rich if you want to watch 4 games that Foxtel have locked down on the weekend for NRL, and still wouldn’t be able to watch ESPN. If your a AFL and NRL fan you’d be broke.

        • Posted 31/07/2013 at 7:39 am | Permalink |

          Yes, but if I only watch 2-3 games a month because I’m generally too busy to watch TV most of the time I am way in front. If I want to watch 4 games a weekend then I’d pay for the package.

    9. Rohan
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink |

      What I really want is a true international offering.

      I want some Russian/Ukrainian TV because I miss it like crazy.

      No one offers it here.

      I’m not interested in 99% of the premium content, but until someone offers this, I’m stuck with resorting to creative ways of getting my slavic shows.

    10. Tinman_au
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink |

      it’s a bit disappointing you can’t get Sci-fi and TV1 on PC :/

    11. steven
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 6:57 pm | Permalink |

      I am skeptical as it will probably be riddled with adds all over the place just like foxtel has become.

    12. Sean
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink |

      Foxtel certainly hasn’t listened to my comments. All I want is sports, specifically football (soccer) but if I choose this new service (or their old service) I have to pay at least $25 for stuff I never watch before forking out another $25 for the shows I want to watch. Looks like another season of footy on SBS for me.

    13. looktall
      Posted 30/07/2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink |

      probably the biggest selling point of foxtel for me is the ability to time shift. ie. foxtel IQ.

      we record shit loads of kids shows as well as cooking shows and other docos etc.

      i’m not sure how that would work (if at all) with this new service.

      • AJ
        Posted 31/07/2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink |

        There is a catch up which allows you to stream some content OR just get Netflix and watch anything you want whenever you want!

      • Posted 31/07/2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink |

        @looktall: No ability to record for later. You can pause the live feed for up to 30 mins (shorter period than set-top Foxtel), and rewind a live feed up to 30 mins on certain devices only (PCs/Macs at the moment).

        Lack of proper timeshifting is the dealbreaker on this for me. I’d switch to this (or similar service) from my current Foxtel/IQ subscription even with the existing pricing/package model, as it would be a significant saving. (That’s obviously why they’re not offering a truly equivalent service at a cheaper price-point.) I’m clearly not representative of the ‘demand’ from customers though^, as I quite like having genre-based channels. I find it a good for serendipitous discovery of content that I wouldn’t know about if only selecting the content I’m already aware I want to watch.

        ^ Does anyone have any actual data on ‘what customers want’ in this area? Or are we all just assuming ‘everyone thinks like me’…? :-)

    14. Karl
      Posted 31/07/2013 at 8:59 am | Permalink |

      “availbel”
      This spelling so threw me off that I concentrate pretty hard to remember how to actually spell available :P

    15. merc
      Posted 31/07/2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink |

      I agree Renai. Its great that there is a new IPTV service, but the batch-channel business model is the problem, not the technology used.

      $25 really doesn’t get you anywhere. You get a choice of EITHER trashy Entertainment, crappy drama, Documentaries or kids shows. Movies costs ANOTHER $25, as do sports. I’d be looking at $60-70 for a half-decent selection which is almost the price of standard Foxtel.

      The only thing this has going for it is that you can use two devices simultaneously. Otherwise, standard Foxtel with Catch Up gives a lot of the same benefits still comes with Foxtel Go.

    16. Brendan
      Posted 31/07/2013 at 10:56 am | Permalink |

      The so called batch-channel model is there for two reasons. Sure, it’ll make Foxtel more money, but the other is that the content distributors often require bundling of channels to gain content, as I understand it.

      Which is why some channels have been more independently available than other. As much as Foxtel is out to make a crap-ton of money, some of it’s subscription channels are bundled by the distro and it’s either like it or lump it.

      This is a good thing (even if the execution is a little weak).

      It’s what will help rights holders and distributors become familiar with patterns of usage, and paves the way for more granular services.

      • Toby
        Posted 31/07/2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink |

        Very good point, however I don’t believe that’s what applies to sports and frankly there are a hell of a lot of people who just want sport and even then only one particular code seasonally. Foxtel owns the content rights to a lot of the local sport and so can choose how they bundle.

      • PeterA
        Posted 31/07/2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink |

        So, they can’t split up the products they buy and price them according to popularity?

        Channel X Y and Z bought from distributor for 30 dollars.

        50% of people buy X, 10% buy Y and 40% buy Z

        Telstra charge customer:
        $15 for X
        $3 for Y
        $12 for Z

        Simple. If 0% buy channel Y, give it out for free!

        They are a big company, they could easily price things like this, and get a lot more viewers out of it, by charging slightly less to more people.

        • Stuart
          Posted 31/07/2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink |

          Pricing per channel is pretty much the last thing Foxtel will ever do. I wish it weren’t so but they love their current bulk genre model.

          • PeterA
            Posted 31/07/2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink |

            Don’t worry! I know!

            But I am just trying to inject reality into the argument that they have to pay for bundles, therefore we should too.
            The flip-side to that argument, is they buy in bulk and get a better price.

            • Brendan
              Posted 01/08/2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink |

              Gents, you are missing the point.

              In order to get Channel Y, they have to get Channel X, regardless of whether or not it’s popular. Yes, there is profit to be made (they have to make money to re-invest and to survive) but there are also restrictions on what Foxtel can and can’t do.

              So it’s all well and good to bang the “unbundle” drum, unless there’s a shift of model with distribution, some things will remain as is.

              tl;dr — it takes more than Foxtel changing it’s model, here.

              • Tinman_au
                Posted 01/08/2013 at 4:44 pm | Permalink |

                I know why they do it, which is why I don’t get it.

                I’m not about to pay for something that I’ll only watch 1/8th of ;o)

    17. Psychaotix
      Posted 31/07/2013 at 2:16 pm | Permalink |

      Okay, I’ve decided to bite the bullet with the 7 day trial of the Foxtel Play service, and I have one word to describe it.

      Crap.

      It’s using a Silverllight “Out of Browser Launcher” app to display the content to start with. It also seems to like to randomly say that “the content is unavailable” even though it’s unlocked.

      For the record, I’m running a Core i7-920 with 6Gb ram, Windows 7 Ultimate and plenty of free HDD space. I’m also syncing quite high on DSL, with 22,919kbit/s down and 1355kbit/s.

      Usage seems to run at about 3,000kbit/s every 5 or so seconds during streaming (according to the Internode usage meter, MUM) with a spike up to 8,000kbit/s on changing channel.

      I’ll reply to this post if I need to add anything else

    18. Posted 31/07/2013 at 9:17 pm | Permalink |

      Signed up for the 7-day trial. Watched 2 episodes of Top Gear and 2 Documentaries. Won’t be continuing after the trial. Reasons:

      1- NO SYFY CHANNEL on PC. This is huge for me. I don’t own any Apple products and want to watch TV on my TV (which is connected to my PC)

      2- Quality isn’t even broadcast level and I don’t know if it’s just my computer, but the streams, both live and VoD are often jerky….

      3- As Renai has already mentioned, the channel lineup is very similar to their cable/sat packages. Meaning you’ve got to get 2-3 to get everything many people want….which makes it almost as expensive as cable/sat version…

      In short- No HD, no SyFy on PC and no individual channel choices. Big fat zero for me. I can get HD versions of ANYTHING I want in a few hours Foxtel….if I can’t have it from you, the way I want it when I pay you for your “exclusives”…. why would pay?….

      • Psychaotix
        Posted 31/07/2013 at 10:47 pm | Permalink |

        It isn’t just you with the jerky quality, Seven_tech. I’ve had it with my rig as well.

        I’ve cancelled my service.

        Seriously, Foxtel had a chance to really, REALLY shake up the market and get their name going good again. But instead, they’ve chosen to screw it up. It’s sad, really.

      • Phg
        Posted 01/08/2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink |

        Have Foxtel given any reasons why some channels are restricted from working on PC/Mac?

        • Posted 01/08/2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink |

          Yes, they don’t have the rights to deliver those channels in that medium to those devices. It’s a restriction imposed by the content owners on where/when/how their content may be delivered. I assume they’re concerned that its more likely that people could capture & record streams on those devices (as if they aren’t already doing so from cable box output).

          • Posted 02/08/2013 at 4:57 pm | Permalink |

            Or on their tablet, or mobile phone, or just garden variety digital tv….

    19. Phg
      Posted 02/08/2013 at 6:29 am | Permalink |

      Any chance that the Foxtel strategy with the new crap Foxtel service is to showcase how crap it is, to try and make their satellite and cable services look good, or at least hope that people like the content, but not the delivery, and then go and buy a cable or satellite service to get the real deal. At least it might appease all those investors, pestering them about their digital strategy

    20. Baldric
      Posted 02/08/2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink |

      Still no Android general support for GO. Still selling packages instead of channels. Are they interested in growing their business or not?

      I told them every year for the past five years that I’d be happy to pay $50 a month for an iQHD and the Sports Channels so I can see rugby.

      The answer from the nice overseas call centre person was the company line “We think the basic package offers great value for money ” etc etc

      They’re still wrong, and they’re not trying very hard to get it right.

      • Mr T
        Posted 02/08/2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink |

        There’s one word for that Baldric… MONOPOLY. Foxtel don’t lower their prices because they don’t have to undercut their competition. There is no competition.

        Personally, I would rather pay the extra to get the iQ HD with HD channels. At least I’d get the best quality and could record what I want to and watch it later. This foxtel play service doesn’t offer those features (at the moment, anyway).

        Who knows what will happen, one day I might be able to afford Foxtel. In the meantime I’ll stick with freeview and enjoy playing back free to air shows on my topfield.

    21. Posted 02/08/2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink |

      So, no-one wants Australians to be able to watch the AFL on their PC, ever?




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