TPG orders iiNet to dump Fetch TV


news National broadband provider iiNet and its subsidiary brands have instantly dumped the Fetch TV Internet television platform following the company’s acquisition by TPG, with Fetch TV confirming the order came from TPG itself following the acquisition.

Fetch TV was founded in July 2010, backed by Malaysian company Astro All Asia Networks, as well as local companies Harvey Norman and Domayne. The company’s business model saw it bundle a set-top box through Australian broadband providers that gave customers access to both personal video recording functionality to enhance their live TV viewing, as well as the ability to stream many different forms of content to their television.

The service was viewed as a competitor to Foxtel, and quickly attracted broadband providers such as iiNet (and its current stable of brands, including Internode, Westnet, Adam Internet and so on — some of these companies had not yet been bought by iiNet), as well as Optus, Dodo and others.

And Fetch TV has had some degree of success. In September 2013, for example, the company announced it had 100,000 subscribers. It was one of the first providers in Australia to facilitate customers watching the popular Netflix platform through its service.

However, this week iiNet and its stable of brands appears to have instantly ditched the company following iiNet’s acquisition by TPG. iiNet’s website states regarding Fetch TV: “This product is no longer available for purchase”, notifying existing customers of Fetch TV that they can manage their account online.

And Internode’s website states: “Fetch TV was available from 23 November 2011 and was grandfathered on 25 August 2015. Fetch TV remained available to customers with existing Fetch TV services, but no further signups were available.”

In response to a question on its Facebook page, Fetch TV wrote:

“… yes it’s true that TPG, the new owners of the iiNet group of ISPs, has suspended all new sales of Fetch TV. They do have a large and engaged Fetch TV customer base including our earliest & most loyal customers whom we value so much (Thank you!). We are not able to comment on behalf of TPG what this decision means for existing customers like you and we encourage you to contact them for more information.”

Calls to Fetch TV and iiNet in-house spokespeople this morning have not been returned, while a TPG spokesperson has not yet returned an emailed request for comment.

The acquisition of iiNet by TPG was approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last week. TPG has never offered the Fetch TV service bundled with its own plans – the company offers its own rival IPTV platform, featuring some of the same channels as Fetch TV.

Wow. Just wow.

The ink is NOT EVEN DRY on TPG’s acquisition of iiNet, and it is already cancelling products and starting to harmonise iiNet’s product offering with that of its own. This is a simply remarkable decision and illustrates precisely the path that TPG is likely to take with iiNet and its subsidiary brands.

The speed of this move dramatically signals how fast TPG is going to shake up iiNet and its subsidiary brands over the coming months. If you’re an iiNet customer, then I recommend buckling in your seatbelt and holding on for a wild ride — because David Teoh and the boys in purple have grabbed control of the wheel and are now along for the ride.

To what extent can the specific move to cancel new signups of the Fetch TV service be justified? To be honest, I don’t think we know at this point. Fetch TV’s latest set-top box platform and service is awesome as a product bundled with broadband plans. However, I don’t know if companies like iiNet were able to sell enough of these packages to make it worth continuing after a few years offering them, or whether they were profitable for the ISPs.

To a certain extent, Fetch TV always felt like a product that former iiNet chief executive and Internode founder Simon Hackett wanted to bundle with their companies’ broadband plans because they wanted to expand beyond mere data carriage and compete with huge profit-making rivals like Foxtel. However, I never got the sense that Fetch TV was able to really achieve mainstream success.

The launch of Netflix in Australia, as well as similar over the top plays such as Stan and Presto, may have dramatically changed the game for Fetch TV. I suspect we’ll find out more about this over the next week or so.

Given iiNet’s move, I would very much expect Optus to be also looking at its contract with Fetch TV. I also suspect Fetch TV itself might end up being sold off or subsumed back into its Malaysian parent company. The loss of the iiNet contract is a colossal blow for the company in the Australian market — I think it will find it very difficult to continue on its current path.

Image credit: Fetch TV


      • One has to ask the question, does David Teoh have an axe to grind with Fetch or Star TV? Being of Malaysian descent himself it appears to be a very strange first move to make.

        Sounds suspiciously like “payback”.

        • I’m sure that its strictly business.

          Unless you have clear evidence to support your suspicions then they look suspiciously prejudiced.

          Frankly I think people are overthinking this. Only a few months ago some were raising eyebrows at iiNet’s promotion of quota free Netflix whilst also having a Fetch TV offer.

  1. Already looking at ISP options, and the pickings are getting slim. If the typical evening slowdowns start hitting Internode like they do some (many?) TPG customers. Where to go?

    PS. I am a fetch TV customer. If they eventually do can FetchTV completely, I hope the boxes are still useable for their other features. It’s a great set top box.

    • I’m a TPG customer and while I’m reasonably close to the Exchange I’ve never had any issues with TPG. The connection stays solid as long as I’m on it and Netflix works great. I can’t remember the last time I used their customer service so can’t help you on that end but otherwise I’m a happy client.

      • Well lucky you. It’s not that experience many of my friends have had. That said, it does vary by exchange. When I was assure of the performance of TPG on my exchange by TPG customers in my area, I got them to switch off their bit torrents that maxed out their connections and try a single stream speed test. Most only got about 1/4 of their sync’d speed and thought that was good…

        • My exchange is Telstra only so the TPG package is Off-Net although I would assume that using Telstra equipment instead of their own installation would make my signal worse not better.

          I’d say that my copper must be in really good condition but if we have some rain and water gets in the pit it does cause some weird problems. Lucky for me (or unlucky as the case may be) major rain isn’t something we’ve had to deal with for a while.

  2. Renai,

    You have me confused, in this article from only 3 years ago you were basically challenging iiNet to back away from Fetch TV, yet when the new owner does EXACTLY that it seems like you are making it out to be some sort of conspiracy.

    Not much has changed with Fecth TV in the past 3 years, sure they gained a couple of extra subscribers (up to 300k now across all ISP’s), but Netflix Aus gained 1.5 million in only 3 months….Fetch TV was a dying product then and it still is!

    • Maybe TPG read the old Delimiter post, looked at the financials and numbers of iiNet subscribers, and realised it was time to let it go.

    • Au contraire, John — a lot has changed in the past three years regarding Fetch. They revolutionised their product:

      And they bolted on quite a few hundred thousand customers.

      In 2012 they had a bad product which was going nowhere — then they massively upgraded their product and started seeing a lot of traction. My opinion about them changed based on the evidence.

      Today, I’m not quite sure what to make of Fetch — my judgment would be based on how they are succeeding commercially for the ISPs. The situation has also changed with the entrance of Netflix into the market, so my view of the company will also need to change based on that.

  3. One doesn’t spend 1.6 Billion on a whim and not have a plan. Unless your a GBE then you manage to have a plan and lose $15billion somewhere ;)

    I am not surprised by Fetch being the first, it would surprise me if it was very close to break even or maybe even a slight loss at times. Netflix really has shaken up the content market and even Foxtel is feeling its presence.

    I would wager the free VOIP services will go next (ie nodephone 1 can call out just pay call costs and no line rental, and ‘free’ nodephone2 special service). If you’re on a grandfathered plan(s) watch out too!

    @John I think its more the speed (barely into second day of ‘ownership’). People are more used to how iiNet acquired ISP’s and integrated them (Most of said brands still exist etc). Teoh/TPG are a whole other gambit.

    • It does make you wonder if TPG have a legal agreement in place or being negotiated with a competitor doesn’t it?

    • Whilst Renai was away 6 months ago Foxtel’s 50% owner’s Journo Mitchell Bingemann (The Australian 4 Feb 2015) reported

      “It is understood that TPG’s pay-TV platform, which has been built in-house but will be fitted out with Foxtel content, will look like and be similarly priced to Fetch TV’s offering which starts at $15 a month.”

      “the service will not carry any of Foxtel’s premium channels, such as its highly coveted sport channels”.

      If Foxtel / Presto goes ahead, I would envisage it being an IPTV offering like their current one. One that does not require a set-box top. TPG might even just bundle unmetered Presto out of the box.

  4. Fetch was a dead product from a beginning

    Fetch pretty much refused to get into the “app” space and evolve. So basically a rival version of foxtel

    What I expect will happen netflix will be dumped as free data. In favor for unmetered Foxtel content

    • Not if they want to retain their newly acquired customers. Foxtel is over priced junk, full of ads and promos.

    • In that case they’re off our list of eligible providers. We remain a Foxtel-free zone.

  5. I was in the market for a PVR in the past year and so as an Internode customer took a look at Fetch TV.

    I’m afraid I was underwhelmed by the service offer. Also we have since seen the rapid growth of numerous streaming services.

    Whatever was good about Fetch tv it feels like something that got left behind.

    I’m not surprised by the speed of this announcement. TPG have had plenty of time to make plans whilst the sale was pending. Why wait? Might as well make your mark and set out a plan for the future.

  6. So your source is a fetch tv Facebook page?

    Do you have any reputable source for this information other than a social media page?

  7. Totally not surprised. TPG has a competing product and if Fetch wasn’t a strong financial performer…

  8. Just my little drop in the bucket, but I’m about to lose access to my current remote phone point due to a property sale, so need to negotiate a new phone line somewhere to link to via long distance wireless.
    iinet was #1 on my prospects for a new bundle, but seeing this little gem appear while the ink is wet on the takeover… I’ll relegate them to the same consideration as Dodo… ie. I’d more likely go with Telstra who are to blame for my lack of access to functional a copper line so in reality I’d rather rely on local cafe’s for net access, at least I get coffee while I check emails at > dialup speed, and youtube etc can wait for some point in the distant future.
    I wonder if they check which antenna satellite comes in on? I’ve a friend in Coober Pedy with better net access than me, but perhaps one of my remote area connections could help with a satellite account.
    Being < 50km from melb supposedly I have access to broadband. However I had enough running around with Telstra years ago with several "database revisions" regarding state of local lines before I cancelled the whole thing after the inability to provide USO voice services repeatedly cost me lost business with continuously inadequate fault repairs. (over half a year of <50% uptime working voice line is enough opportunity to conclude incompetence in my opinion)
    {I can cite dates, telstra central complaints contacts, and even ticket numbers but… simply put our telecommunications are far worse than Telstra or Malcolm will ever admit, in a fantasy world we would start agitating for "government/Turnbull to deliver promises or serve prison time, but Australians don't have the time to wait for and to demand real results}

  9. Internode customer for many years (camtech before that…). Tpg is not looking pleasant. Ipv6 is a definite churn for me, lose that and why would I stay?

    Im probably an edge case for most isps, I recognise that. But its a sad reflection on the oz isp industry that all you can get is more of the same.

    • “Ipv6 is a definite churn for me, lose that and why would I stay?”

      Do you have an IPv6 option in mind?

      Apart from NBN FTTP where Telstra and Skymesh offer IPv6 I’m not aware of any others.

      • No I have no real go to option. Internode IPv6 is quite excellent, I havent had to look for anyone else.

        The point is more that once you lose a tech or support or whatever reason to stay with an isp, they are all merely competing on price and congestion. I dont see that as good for anyone. Peak time congestion is a reason to churn every single month.

  10. With Netflix available in Australia I refuse to sign up to any service that requires physical hardware. If I can’t watch it on any device, anywhere in the house, at any time (ie. no schedules) I simply won’t consider it. You can buy basically any new TV and you’ll find at least a Netflix app built into it.

    • Im not sure thats a good thing nowadays, tho I held the same opinion for a long time.

      Value adding clever / useful services isnt that bad. I would far prefer to own a supported and upgradable product from an ISP than a tele that will be abandoned upgrade wise for a new range within 12 months.

      I will say though, that if you are an ISP releasing products that have no plans for at least weekly software updates these days, you should be utterly culpable for all the damage those products cause (malfunction, hacking, all of it). Mobile phone users esp need that protection; you havent branded it yet is not a reason not to patch.

  11. TBH I think a smart ISP would copy Telstra and team up with Roku to provide customers with a Roku 2 or 3 as a low cost optional item (~ $49 USD) – it’d be great for folks without “Smart TV’s” and want easy access to the various streaming channels.

    I’ve got a couple of Roku3’s myself plus a Roku Stick and they are simply the gold standard in Streaming devices – they are cheap and very easy to use and customer can add extra channels that they want without being locked down like Apple TV’s are.

    • We use a wireless Kogan smart TV dongle for Netflix. It turns our 55″ LED TV into a giant Android tablet controlled via an air mouse or optional wireless keypad to surf, game, email etc.
      Saw it again recently on offer for $89AU with free shipping.

      • Both chromecast and Roku stick are less less than $50 each and do a lot more than just Netflix.

  12. Cant say I care too much about this. I think ISPs should stay out of any type of content solution.

    • But if they only provided a “pipe”, where would they spend their profits? Upgrading the infrastructure?? Inconceivable!

    • @Hubert Which is why I suggested isp’s offer the Roku boxes to their customers as an optional extra, this disconnects them from the content side but gives their customers an easy way to get Netflix et al to their TV’s over their internet service.

  13. No need for highly paid directors or CEO’s when a company has been taken over. They only need the workers to keep it up and running.

    • I agree Peter, and no doubt it was expected. But as someone posted in the link I posted, the sheer speed they are making these changes is far beyond any previous iiNet acquisition.

  14. TPG is going to launch their own IPTV soon, so don t want additional customers signing up to Fetch TV which likely has little profit margin in it for them. I can understand it might be a shock to have TPG start changing stuff within iiNet so quickly but I don t really see this as a big issue, FetchTV is shit anyway IMO.

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