Optus launches FetchTV from $10 a month


news The nation’s number two telco Optus has launched the FetchTV Internet video platform already being sold by iiNet, Internode and Adam Internet for the starting price of $9.95 a month — a charge which will be waived when customers are using its $109 Fusion home broadband and telephone bundle.

In a statement this afternoon, Optus noted it would launch the service under the MeTV brand. Like the other ISPs, Optus will offer customers a personal video recorder device to access the service.
For the starting cost of $9.95 a month, customers will get the PVR box, which comes with a built-in digital tuner and a one terabyte hard drive, the ability to watch, pause and record free to air and digital channels, and the Movie Box service bundled, which offers customers 30 preselected, on-demand movies per month, with seven new films added to customers’ roster every week.

Customers will be able to watch additional movies for between $3.95 and $5.95 (latest release) per movie, and subscription TV packs will be available for $6.95 a month — adding channels in genres such as ‘Kids’, ‘Music TV’ and ‘Factual’. More genres and foreign language channels will be added soon, Optus said in its statement.

One of the advantages which the Optus service offers over the rival FetchTV offerings being sold by rival ISPs is that Optus has created a mobile application, which allows customers to access programming information and remote record TV programs from their mobile.

“The app will also transform the smartphone or tablet into a remote control and keyboard while at home,” Optus noted. It is not yet clear which mobile platforms the app is available for, although it will be available from “late November” this year. The Optus FetchTV service will launch later this week.

Austin R Bryan, Director, Optus Digital Media said, “With an increasingly strong content line-up, thanks to our partners at FetchTV, and an innovative user interface and functionality, Optus MeTV with fetch allows Australians to enjoy a great experience through the content they love, at a time convenient to them.’

“The way we consume content is rapidly changing. Optus Digital Media is dedicated to developing products and services that meet this consumer need and we are thrilled to be bringing this unique TV offering to Australian households.”

The other major Internet video platforms in Australia include Telstra’s T-Box platform as well as bundled offerings available via Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3 platforms. Telstra is attempting to leverage content from its Foxtel joint venture through its T-Box system.

It appears as if the FetchTV offering has received lacklustre take-up amongst the customer bases of iiNet and Internode, so far, at least. Neither company has been trumpeting take-up to the world, and at iiNet’s financial results briefings, the FetchTV service has already taken a back seat to more interesting issues.

From my perspective, after seeing the iiNet PVR in operation in trial mode and at a friend’s house, it all comes down to content availability.

The quality of the service is OK (although nowhere near Blu-ray class), but when I’ve had a look at it, I’ve found it difficult to find content that I actually wanted to watch and at a price I was willing to pay. The movies which were auto-downloaded every week simply weren’t that hot, and it didn’t appear when I used it as if there were that many new releases available.

From what I’ve seen, Telstra’s T-Box platform offers quite a wider breadth of content than FetchTV does, especially on-demand content. Of course, it costs more — but what do you expect? It’s Telstra ;)

That mainly leaves the ability to access subscription TV channels cheaper than you could get them through Foxtel or Austar … but again, I don’t buy those services now, so I can’t see myself needing them in future. I, and most other generation Y Australians, have lived our entire lives without pay TV. Why sign up for it now?

Optus made a big deal out of the mobile aspect of its FetchTV partnership back in May this year, when the pair’s romance was first outed, but the launch today of a tie-in app is disappointing due to its lack of mobile streaming. Sure, the other ISPs don’t offer this functionality either, but Telstra does allow mobile Foxtel streams, and it’s not uncommon for PVRs these days to allow remote program scheduling. The independent IceTV platform already does this, as does Foxtel’s own box.

What we’re left with today is an impression that Optus didn’t really try that hard with this one. If this is all Australia’s second-largest telco is offering, you might as well sign up with iiNet or Internode, if you want FetchTV — or just pay more and go with Telstra, and arguably get a better overall service.

Image credit: Optus


  1. Reason why FetchTV has not taken off is because it has bugger all to watch. It will die the same as SelecTV (as its channel list is basically identical).
    There is of course over Foxtel which has been blowing chunks since day one with its repeat content and over priced dribble.

    So really the only competition for Australians in the digital world is sadly still pirating.

    You know I can Slingbox DirectTV from the USA + pay for TPG unlimited plan for the same price as it would cost me per month for the top notch $130/month Foxtel plan.
    That’s for poo loads more channels, HD content, sport and movies.

    • I loved selecTV been with them since it started up until the foxtel/austar buyout of customewr base.

      FetchTV may very well be what i want. my foxtel service goes away next month, This is looking like its replacment. (And its LEGAL)

  2. Its great to see another ISP engaged with fetchtv. The more the merrier.

    The entry of Optus, in particular, into the fetchtv camp certainly helps to legitimise its status as a real IPTV contender in Australia, and its clear that fetchtv is the player to watch in the market at this point.

    A data point about the mobile app (and its perhaps not surprising that Optus didn’t see fit to emphasise this point!) is that it will in fact be available to all fetchtv customers across all FetchTV participant ISPs, from the point of its initial release (currently expected to be mid November).

    Initially it’ll be an iPhone and iPad app, with other platforms in the pipeline. It is literally just a matter of looking out for it to appear in the Apple App Store.

    Having already trialled the mobile apps, I can say that their impact on the fetchtv service is pretty transformative.

    It means the device in your pocket is a great new control vector for the service.

    You can view the Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and the movie rental catalogue (including watching trailers on your mobile device, and then renting movies on the spot, ready to watch on your Fetch STB). The mobile app experience is very fluid and easy to explore.

    People interested in what fetchtv can do should also be able to use the app to explore the EPG and movie catalogues before signing up with a fetchtv partner ISP.

    The app works anywhere with Internet connectivity (you don’t have to be on your local LAN at home to use it), but when you *are* local to your box at home, you can also control the set top box (change channels, play movies etc) directly with the app as well.

    Its also worth appreciating that the Optus service is not the same as the ‘lite’ and ‘full’ offerings from existing fetchtv partners.

    Its probably best described as somewhere in between the two (“Lite Plus”?), with some of the things built into ‘full’ being available as bolt-on-at-more-cost options for the Optus service, and some other aspects of the full service from others not being available on Optus at all.

    Its a matter of ‘horses for courses’ – and as the article above notes, its mostly about content, and you should ensure that the service you select from the provider that suits you contains the content you want it to contain.

    The content equation (from all fetchtv partners) is something that will continue to evolve – its early days yet.

    • Thanks for your comment Simon! I especially appreciate the info re the mobile app — I had thought it was an Optus-specific thing, but it’s good to hear it’s cross-industry.

      I haven’t heard any new content announcements from FetchTV for a while … I agree it’s a contender, but now that the platform has so many major ISPs on board, I’d like to see it getting to the same level of film and TV content as the T-Box at some stage. Surely it should have the scale now to get the film and TV studios seriously interested.

    • Of course Simon knows that FetchTV will only become viable if ISPs act to reduce piracy. While the margins from IPTV services for ISPs eclipse those achieved from piracy, no ISP wants to be the first to jump to take action against pirates. They’d (iiNet, Internode, Adam and now Optus) would prefer the Government step in and require *all* ISPs to take action against pirates.

      • I really don’t think it’s up to ISPs to reduce piracy, as if there is some unilateral technological solution to what is fundamentally a socio-economic problem.

        The problem is simple: How do you convince people to pay for content when they can get it for free?

        The solution is simple: Make it available at a reasonable price point, with a high level of convenience.

        If the “content industry” focused on doing so, rather than hemorrhaging money via ambulance-chasing lawyers and snake-oil DRM salesmen, they would not have to be so paranoid. They would not engage in counterproductive behaviour, like blaming the ISPs who should be their partners in delivering their product, and the people who should be their happy customers.

        If the content producers want to stop piracy, they would get behind services like FetchTV, using it to distribute popular shows and movies in a timely manner, for competitive prices. However, they choose to treat Australia as a backwater, pretending we don’t know how to access Hulu, let alone torrents, and continue to delude themselves into thinking their current licensing agreements with operators like Foxtel are tenable.

        Their loss. They may have a right to be compensated for their work – but they don’t get to control the terms in this cartel-like fashion forever.

  3. I don’t see the hype (if there is or was any) about Fetch. I mean, I ditched PayTV many, many moons ago for the simple fact it was re-runs of re-runs :S. By the looks of things FetchTV doesn’t have much in the way of content, so what is the use of it apart from an expensive PVR.
    Why FetchTV introduced a product with very, very little content to the market in this day and age is beyond me. Maybe that’s a sign that it might be a hard slog for Fetch to acquire certain content, who knows? I mean with Telstra (Foxtel) already in a position where it is you would have to imagine Fetch would nearly be pushing s#it up a hill trying to bring anything of substance to the forefront.
    But thanks to Internodes Usenet, they do a great job providing it to me (tv shows or movies) at no cost and advertisement free in either SD or HD and all current, up to date.
    Saying that, if I had the content choice as what Usenet provides I’d be happy to pay FetchTV pricing as it currently stands. That will never happen with FetchTV though.

    • I should clarify that I know FetchTV is a different model to PayTV (Austar/Foxtel), I was just making a general statement on my own experiences.

  4. It potentially sounds like a good offering, as always comes down to what you wish to use the service for and what alternatives are available to you.

    The article really fails to mention that at $9.95 per month, it’s a pretty competitive price point for a 1TB PVR, let alone having additional content available.

    For the everyday user out there that does not pirate movies, the price point for rentals is on par with what you would pay elsewhere yet you have the convenience of doing it all on one STB. All round I think it sounds like a good price, but I’ll be waiting to see details of content offerings before I consider purchasing one.

    • It is very competitive and then that price point is waived if you choose the $109 Fusion plan.
      So I guess for the higher end Optus customers it might be worth trying out at least.
      Not sure if there are contracts involved for Fetch (as far as Optus are concerned).

  5. There isn’t enough choice on FetchTV. Your much better off getting Foxtel on Xbox360

  6. I see devices like Fetch TV as the perfect medium to deliver sporting events and the like but they simply don’t have the content. I would have eagerly forked out a couple of hundred to get coverage of all the Rugby World Cup games. (heck with Channel 9s atrocious coverage I may have paid it just for the Aussie games…).

    If you could have the option to buy into one off events or particular games that you’re interested in it would be perfect. I don’t want to fork out $$$ a month for a bunch of crap but I’d eagerly pay for things I want to watch.

  7. Would MIPI, MPAA, RIAA or the Movie Rights Group be concerned if they found out fetchTV violated copyright (the GPL) in the process of selling their content ?

  8. Reason why FetchTV dosen’t have the content, is because Foxtel purposely pays exorbitant amounts sole broadcast rights of that content in Australia.
    Its also why there is no valid competition to Foxtel in Austra, also why we are dictated too price wise because there is not other alternative than pirating.

    So really, until there is a competitive pay tv service in Australia, we as Australians will keep on pirating.

  9. well, as consumers we have a choice. With consumer protection and competition watchdog efforts as pathetic as they are (owing to politicians being in the service of business, not consumers, let alone people), consumers can encourage competition by selecting a newcomer over an established near monopolist with overpriced offerings. This might mean ‘suffering’ a moderate decrease in breadth of offering, but, honestly, while it’s nice to have all this ‘choice’, there’s only so many hours in the day which are not wasted by watching television. So, for us the choice is clear: Bye, bye Foxtel, your business model is about to die, and hello ‘Me TV’ (what a singularly stupid moniker).

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