Foxtel launches movies on demand, cheaper Game of Thrones



news National pay TV operator Foxtel has revealed it will launch its upcoming Presto movies on demand service on 13 March, as well as temporarily cutting prices on the fees which subscribers using its IPTV service Play will be able to watch the latest season of the popular HBO TV series Game of Thrones.

Presto is an IPTV which Foxtel first unveiled in September last year. Foxtel is billing it as being able to offer viewers “a regularly updating collection of great films” for the price of $19.99 per month. Foxtel initially planned to make the service available in late 2013, but the launch was delayed.

In a statement issued yesterday, Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein announced that Presto will be available from March 13 of this year. Presto will offer movie lovers a monthly pass to stream Foxtel Movies, both live and on demand, via PC and Mac computers and compatible iPads for $19.99 a month, although additional charges will apply for pay per view movies. Presto will be available as a special offer to new customers for $4.99 in their first month.

Subscribers can connect to Presto in minutes and are free to come and go from the service on a monthly basis, with no lock-in contract, and without the need to buy through a basic tier. A minimum broadband speed of 3Mbps is recommended to use the service.

Foxtel said that the new movie service will feature “an intuitive interface” and will deliver “the best in local and international movies including curated collections, recommendations and critics’ reviews”. Presto’s regularly updating collection of movies will deliver most of the biggest box office releases of 2013 along with a huge collection of past favourites, the company said.

All Presto movies are ad-break-free and the service offers films from all seven Foxtel Movies live channels including: Foxtel Movies Premiere, Foxtel Movies Comedy, Foxtel Movies Romance, Foxtel Movies Thriller, Foxtel Movies Action, Foxtel Movies Family, and Foxtel Movies Masterpiece, as well as on demand movies from these channels.

Richard Freudenstein said, “We’re thrilled to announce that the countdown is on for the launch of Presto. Starting March 13, Australian movie lovers will have access to as many movies as they want from a massive library of cinematic hits for a price per week equivalent to what they’d pay for just one standard iTunes movie rental.”

“We’ve had fantastic feedback since our initial announcement and anticipation from Australians, hungry for a new way to experience great movies, when and where they want, and free from ad-breaks, continues to grow. We’re looking forward to Presto taking the stage in the coming weeks.”

Foxtel Movies offers “the best from all the major studios and key independents” including MGM, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Roadshow Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Hopscotch Entertainment One, ICON, Studiocanal and Transmission Films.

The TV angle
The launch of Presto follows the launch of a similar service, Foxtel Play, in July. However, that service is focused on the broader Foxtel offering, including television shows, for example.

Also yesterday, Foxtel announced that customers using its Play service could enjoy a discounted subscription to its Premium Movies & Drama channel, including Showcase, which hosts a number of HBO series, during the season 4 broadcast of the popular Game of Thrones series, which returns to Foxtel ‘Express from the US’ on Monday April 7.
Customers who sign up to Foxtel Play between 1 and 30 April this year will benefit from the special pricing, as will existing Foxtel Play customers who already subscribe to the Premium Movies & Drama pick between 1 and 30 April 2014.

The news means existing and new Foxtel Play subscribers will be able to add Premium Movies & Drama to their first $25 genre pick for only $10 extra, giving fans access to Game of Thrones season 4 as well as other highly acclaimed programming including Mad Men, Girls, House of Cards, True Blood and a host of blockbuster and library movies for only $35 per month for the first three months.

Foxtel Play offers customers access to content within minutes of signing up and enables them to subscribe by the month and pay as they go, so they will be able to enjoy Game of Thrones season 4 ‘Express from the US’. With no lock-in contract and no installation costs, subscribers can stop and start their subscription month-to-month, to suit their circumstances or viewing choices.

Play works on eligible LG and Samsung Smart TVs, Xbox 360, selected Samsung BluRay and home theatre systems and PC and Mac computers. Foxtel Play customers can also access content on selected smart phones and tablets by downloading the Foxtel Go app.

Foxtel Chief Executive Richard Freudenstein said: “Foxtel is committed to offering ever-improving access and availability to the entertainment our customers love. Game of Thrones is one of the most popular programs in the world, and is a favourite among Australian viewers. Foxtel’s agreement with HBO means we can provide our customers with first run access to Game of Thrones season 4 along with a great library of movies from the Foxtel Movies channels, which we’re thrilled to offer Foxtel Play customers at a special rate during season 4 of this landmark show.”

As part of the showcase special event, Foxtel is also offering existing subscribers to the main Foxtel platform access to Showcase for only $10 extra per month during the period 20 March to 30 June 2014 for those who sign up between 20 March and 17 April . When added to the $49 per month Essentials Pack this means existing customers will get “an amazing range of content”, according to Foxtel, plus Go, for $59 per month during the period 20 March to30 June 2014.

The news comes as controversy continues to swirl around the availability of key US TV shows in Australia, following Foxtel deals to lock up certain categories of content. For example, in early February, Foxtel reportedly signed a deal with HBO which will block the show from airing through any other medium — at all — apart from DVD release, in a move which appears set to drive more Australians to downloading the show via file-sharing protocols such as BitTorrent.

Some great deals from Foxtel here, although I would point out that for the price the company is charging to view shows such as Game of Thrones, Australians will be able to buy the DVD box set if that’s all they’re seeking to watch from Foxtel’s TV library for that period. Owning and subscribing is a very different thing, and I, for one, do not wish to pay a subscription to Foxtel for the rest of my life for the privilege of watching shows I’ve already paid for.

Having said that, I do pay for a subscription to the anime IPTV platform Crunchyroll, which hosts a bunch of great shows such as Naruto, Bleach and so on. The difference between that service and Foxtel? Crunchyroll costs just $6.95 per month.

Finally, given this article is somewhat about Game of Thrones, can I make a personal recommendation here? If you like Game of Thrones, go and read the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s much more satisfying than the over-hyped TV series in my opinion, which has already started to deviate from the canon story of the books. If you’ve read that, go and read Brandon Sanderson’s excellent series The Stormlight Archive. The first book, The Way of Kings, is already out, and the next book in the series, Words of Radiance is due out on March 4. Now that’s a better way to spend your time this Autumn.

Image credit: Still from HBO’s Game of Thrones


  1. If I read that correctly, I still need to buy a subscription to presto, and even though it is month to month – either I have to wait until the entire season of GOT 4 is available and gorge on them in one month or keep paying by the month to watch them for however many months it takes for the season to play out… instead of just buying the season for I think $25-30 dollars (in SD) on iTunes and watch when I like…

    Oh and minimum 3Mbps recommended…to bad for me…then

    I will just have my brother buy the DVD in the US and mail it to me. I am happy to pay for content, I want to pay for content. I don’t want to be bent over a barrel for the privilege though. Screw Foxtel.

  2. Will be interesting to see what Presto offers as far as content. But at least they are heading in the right direction with offering a streaming service at an affordable price. The only drawback to that is that it won’t be quota free so that’s something to be mindful of. Perhaps Foxtel could do a Netflix and pay ISPs a fee for quota free traffic haha… I’m assuming once Foxtel release their triple play services we will see quota free if your a Foxtel customer.

    • Actually Netflix paid to improve speeds with Comcast, not for ‘free data’.

      It’s effectively a tariff to ensure Netflix performs more effectively over the Comcast network. It’s actually a fairly pivotal deal and has quite a few ramifications for content delivery in general in the US.

  3. Your book recommendation got me thinking, how absurd would it be if books were marketed in the same way as TV shows? No, you can’t buy a physical book, or read it on your own terms, you must stream the words from our word streaming service and read them on-demand, if your internet is fast enough to cope with it. Don’t like it? Oh, you can download the entire thing for free and print it out I guess.

    • Well, in a sense that is how the Amazon Kindle works. You’re not meant to be easily able to pass the e-book around, the book is only activated for your account, though you can read it off-line.

  4. Allow people to subscribe to just one channel, for a reasonable price, and they make a motza. Sci Fi channel, or Showtime, for a tenner a month (akin to your Crunchyroll sub Renai), and people sign on in droves. It costs them nothing, as its not lost sales if those customers were never going to subscribe otherwise, and it lets people get to what they wish. Or Hulu Plus in other words…

    The need to buy a preliminary service at captive market rates is whats killing the whole idea, and this is no different. Being tacked on to the back end of needing the basic package, which offers very little fresh content, is an unnecessary cost.

    I dropped my Foxtel because it wasnt worth $80/month. I really only watched the sports with any consistency, and I can subscribe to those for much less than $80/month. Hell, I can sub to those, drop a $50 iTunes voucher every month to buy the other shows I watch, and still come out in front. $30 voucher would cover the shows actually, and leave coin to buy the repeated shows I liked.

    • I’ve been saying this to family and friends (and often to the Foxtel people in the shopping centre i go to).

      Give me the ability to pick and choose on a channel level exactly what i want, and i would probably sign up to Foxtel in a heartbeat.

      On the basic package, it comes with X number of channels, and last time i looked, there was at least several channels that i’ll never watch, be they sport or music, or something like that, and there are several channels not included that i would want.

      • A number of channels are bundled because of Distribution Rights agreements. Some are bundled to make a wad of cash; others, because they are required to.

        Either way, Foxtel will never be Netflix. It has a different operating model.

      • Going back only a couple of years, and SelecTV let you pick and choose the channels you wanted. It failed. Maybe because it was ahead of its time, or because it was poorly advertised, but it just didnt work.

        It was essentially what we were after, being $1 per channel per month or something like that. Might have been a minimum (never connected, but a couple of friends did), but it certainly wasnt $40/month like Foxtel.

        I dont know if it would work or not, things havent changed that much since it shut down here, but there has to be a way where you’re not being forced into $80 a month and getting a whole bunch of stuff you dont want or care about.

        Ideally, I could just go to and subscribe for $10 a month, and stream what I wanted. Or Hulu Plus, Netflix, etc. Which obviously goes against Uncle Ruperts interests.

    • Allow people to subscribe to just one channel, for a reasonable price, and they make a motza.


      Thats always been my biggest gripe with them really, paying too much for a ton of crap channels I’ll never watch. If they made it so I could just order the channels I want (at a decent price), I’d have probably signed up years ago…

    • I talked to a friend who works at the ACCC the other day about foxtel etc. He said that it actually makes more sense in terms of social equality to bundle packages for subscriber providers like foxtel. Otherwise all those smaller channels that serve a minority would never exist. We would end up with only 3 or 4 channels with only the most popular content. Probably 2 of them would be sports channels, the rest lowest common denominator cash cows with mostly junk and the occasional show like game of thrones.

      He did say however that (in his opinion) the industry will eventually migrate to a direct-to-consumer approach with their own streaming services and companies like foxtel, who are essentially the middle man, will die out. However currently the networks are not doing this as they can get larger profits from subscriber companies like foxtel because they seek exclusive access to content and will pay a premium for it. Those companies of course then pass that cost onto the consumer.

      Both the content networks and the subscriber companies just want to hold onto their profits while they can. They are happy with the status quo, and see no reason to change it yet. Only when its clearly obvious they will make more money going direct to consumer, will the content networks change.

      As a side note, i’m sure the subscriber networks here in australia are glad the NBN has been nerfed and delayed by the coalition. It will give them time to adapt, keep their profits for longer and work out how to maintain those profits. It is possible they had a hand in the NBN’s fate too, given their close relationship to the coalition.

        • No bundling is the epitome of capitalism. Getting the customer to pay more for crap they won’t consume…and still making a huge profit on the “good” stuff…

  5. +1 for Brandon Sanderson’s writing… The Way of Kings was the best fantasy novel I’ve ever read, and that was just book one of the series! Can’t wait for the next installment.

    Incidentally I read half of the first Game of Thrones book and decided I didn’t like the story arc enough to invest time in the whole series, so I dropped that.

    • It should have been 3-4 books after the third book the quality falls dramatically and the padding begins.

  6. ” A minimum broadband speed of 3Mbps is recommended to use the service.”

    With such high requirements like that, I guess I’ll continue to source my favourite shows from alternate sources.

    Between Foxtel (hogging content), Telstra (driving up broadband prices and preventing competition) and the Liberal National Party (restricting the spread of high speed broadband), it’s no wonder people resort to unusual means to watch their favourite TV shows.

    On that note, all I’ve been doing for entertainment lately is reading books!

    • ” A minimum broadband speed of 3Mbps is recommended to use the service.”
      Aye I cannot sign up to most streaming services because of this :(
      Like you said, at least you can get ahead of the show by reading the books :P

  7. Well, while we’re recommending fantasy novels for mature audiences (in no particular order):

    The Gentleman Bastards by Scott Lynch (three books out of seven are out; I’m currently re-reading Red Seas Under Red Skies, and I can’t wait to get stuck into The Republic of Thieves)

    The Broken Empire Trilogy by Mark Lawrence (finished it recently, it was amazing, the writing was great for the first book, but somehow it gets even better in the second book, and better again in the third)

    The Farseer Trilogy (and its sequels) by Robin Hobb (The Farseer Saga is possibly my favourite fantasy trilogy of all time, and it was the series that got me into fantasy; she has written four other series in the same world)

    The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss (two out of three books are out)

    The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett (three out of five books are out)

    The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (a fantastic read)

    The Long Price Quartet by Daniel Abraham (unique in so many ways)

    More on-topic, “better value” is still “poor value” in this case. Seems like more of a token gesture than anything. Thanks to monopolies, though, they can do what they like. Thanks to the internet though, one can also do what one likes…

      • I will say that Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet is difficult to get into for those who have almost exclusively read medieval European inspired epic fantasy, because of its unique focus on commerce, its unique lack of violence (for most of it), and unique culture (the closest analogue I can find is some sort of fusion of Japanese, Indian and Later Mongol cultures).

        As for Peter V. Brett’s The Demon Cycle, while I do think there are some weaknesses in presentation, I think you’ll find yours is the dissenting opinion…

        Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire is dark, brutal and has quite the Machiavellian protagonist – but I think if you’re okay with GRRM’s shadier characters, you shouldn’t be too put off. I think it’s as dark as, say, Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law, but I think it’s better balanced, and I enjoyed it much more.

        Scott Lynch’s The Gentleman Bastards is simply a must-read.

        I usually encourage friends to read the first chapter or so in the book store (or they can borrow my copy) before they decide to sit down and read it.

  8. +1 to reading the novels instead of paying Foxtel’s usurious fees to watch the TV episodes. With how the plot is reportedly deviating from the novels, it’s not like there won’t be any surprises when you eventually buy the DVD. :-)

    On the novel front – I was intending to buy the ebooks for reading on my kindle. Checked the US Publisher’s website, and, yes, there are ebooks available, with a list price of US$9.99.
    So, I think, that’s quite reasonable, I’ll buy the whole series at that price! Off to Amazon… hang on, US$17.94? Wasn’t Amazon supposed to sell ebooks cheaper than the list price? Isn’t that what that whole court case was about, with Apple & the publishers getting fined?

    Nope, I live in Australia, so I have to pay a minimum of 80% markup over the US ebook pricing, to download the same ebook from the same servers in the US.

    I can have a dead tree edition *airmailed* to me from the UK for less than they want to charge me for the ebook.

    End result? No money from me for Random House or George R R Martin. Libraries are good, and I’ll buy my ebooks from publishers that don’t treat their customers like marks to be milked for all they’re worth.

    Sorry, George, I really did want to pay you for your work, but your publisher decided to screw me instead, and I’m not into that sort of thing.

    • A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) is AU$9.99 on the Australian Amazon site.

      The entire 5 volume collection is AU$57.99 on the Australian Amazon site.

      That sounds cheaper to me.

      The sad thing is, more and more ebooks are ending up getting pirated now.

  9. Wow!

    Never knew our esteemed Renai was into anime! (And awesome books).

    Bit of a yawn for Bleach/Naruto though- please tell us your favorates from the “and so on”???

    Yuru Yuri?

  10. Wow!

    Never knew our esteemed Renai was into anime! (And awesome books).

    Bit of a yawn for Bleach/Naruto though- please tell us your favorites from the “and so on”???

    Yuru Yuri?

    • “Never knew our esteemed Renai was into anime! (And awesome books).”

      I’m pretty much an expert on each ;)

      For anime, my all-time favourites (pretty much in order) are Berserk, Neon Genesis, Highlander: The Search for Vengeance, Monster, Gasaraki, Trigun, Great Teacher Onizuka, Haibane Renmei, Cowboy Bebop, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and many more. And of course I slum it with Naruto and Bleach like everyone else.

      A great new series: Shingeki No Kyojin (Attack on Titan).

      I also know a fair amount about Japanese cinema. I highly recommend the films of Takeshi Kitano.

      In terms of sci-fi/fantasy books, my must-read authors are Ursula Le Guin, Frank Herbert, William Gibson, David Zindell, Orson Scott Card, Robin Hobb, Janny Wurts, David Wingrove, Robert Heinlein, Dan Simmons, George R. R. Martin, Robert Jordan, Iain M. Banks, Brandon Sanderson and (more recently) Hannu Rajaniemi and Patrick Rothfuss. And of course many more. I used to run a site devoted to these kinds of books —

      I could go into films and TV as well … but that would take a while ;)

      • I’m not too keen on the whole Game of Thrones thing. I haven’t even touched the books, and I’ve cancelled my Foxtel subscription (started off with Foxtel on xbox360, which worked well, then when they changed to Foxtel Play, I started getting authentication issues in the xbox360 app. Ticked me off too much…)

        Nice list of anime there. I “slum” it with Naruto and Bleach too, but Neon Genesis was the series that really got me started on Anime in general, and really kicked off my Mecha fantasy. I’m now collecting the entire Gundam collection (I have the original series, Zeta, Double Zeta, Char’s Counterattack, Unicorn, Wing, and 00). I’m also into Trigun, Cowboy Bepop, Space Adventure Cobra, Castle of Cagliostro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Dragon Ball Z, one DVD of Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Robotech, and Zoids New Century. My brother got me hooked on Hellsing as well (no DVDs as yet though).

        Books wise, I read David Eddings, Raymond E Feist, Sara Douglass, Terry Pratchett, plus Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman. I’m also fairly interested in all the Games Workshop stuff (books, models, games, etc).

      • So glad you mentioned Dan Simmons, my all time favourite scifi author.

        The Hyperion series is the best scifi I have read—-cannot wait for it to be made into a movie/series.

        His Ilium/Olympos books are also top notch!

        • Hyperion is a masterwork; I haven’t made it through Ilium etc yet. Hyperion definitely would make a good TV series … Think of The Shrike on TV!

  11. +1 to all of the authors I’ve seen mentioned although there are a couple that are unfamiliar. I also noticed no mention of Tolkien. I would add Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch to the list. I find Ben’s books a fun read and Neil is awesome and I’ve only read Neverwhere and American Gods so far.

    I remember Keeping the Door well Renai and I think I still have it bookmarked. Can you come back please :)

    • “I remember Keeping the Door well Renai and I think I still have it bookmarked. Can you come back please :)”

      Unfortunately I don’t have time for it atm :(

    • If you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, I *highly* recommend “Good Omens”, coauthored with Terry Pratchett. Highly amusing… :-)

      If any of you are into alternate history, Harry Turtledove writes some very good stuff.

  12. “The news means existing and new Foxtel Play subscribers will be able to add Premium Movies & Drama to their first $25 genre pick for only $10 extra”

    Weird…if I go to the Foxtel Play website, selecting any one of the top 4 Genres plus Premium Drama costs $50, not $35

  13. Foxtel can jump through hoops off a cliff for all I care .. They lure customers to sign up to sign up to their service which is way over priced!! I will never sign up with them ever! Thanks Netflix & Hulu!

  14. I’ve just been told by foxtel that Game of Thrones IS NOT available on presto. So this reporting appears to be incorrect.

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