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