Foxtel-Austar merger could lead to a new world of IPTV
- ACCC seeking info to inform decision
- More exclusive content could reach FetchTV
- Optus, Internode and TPG offer IPTV services
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took a step forward in approving a merger of Foxtel and Austar, currently the only two broadcast providers of Pay TV services in Australia. A consequence of the deal could in turn open up content sharing with services that stream pay television via the internet (Internet Protocol TV, or IPTV).
The ACCC’s primary concern with the merger in its proposed state is the heavy hand it would grant Foxtel, and in turn its largest shareholder, Telstra. If Pay TV content were to be concentrated in the hands of a single company that also provides fixed telephony and broadband services, then the bundles available would grant too much market power in too few hands.
FetchTV is the main alternative right now for people who want to access their TV services via their internet connection, offering all terrestrial channels and their digital channels, as well as familiar offerings like the National Geographic Channel, MTV, Animal Planet and Fox Sports News. Part of the ACCC deal with Foxtel is to make sure that the Pay TV provider cannot enter into any exclusive content deals that would block companies like FetchTV from acquiring the same or similar content.
One area where the ACCC may hold back is in exclusive first-run sporting events that originate with Foxtel’s own broadcasting equipment. These services might remain exclusive to Foxtel, which is part owned by Newscorp. But for content originating with private production companies, and for other lifestyle programming, Foxtel will be expected to offer signal access to all-comers. This might include future satellite service providers, aside from IPTV providers.
For now, the ACCC is awaiting submissions by interested parties to provide business cases and information to inform their final decision. In the meantime, FetchTV is available as part of a deal with participating ISPs, including TPG (1300 106 571), Internode and Optus (1300 137 897). Some providers provide a free basic service, while others have packages starting from $5 to include extra content. Some modems are capable of going directly into Smart TVs, while others require a computer or set top unit in between. Call your participating ISP now for more details.
Telstra expands Foxtel on Xbox
- Telstra news: Telstra expands Foxtel on Xbox service to NSW, Victoria
- Also announced BigPond movies coming soon to tablets
- Launched a new iPhone app
Telstra has expanded the Foxtel on Xbox service to ADSL customers in areas of NSW and Victoria, announced BigPond movies coming soon to tablets, and launched a new iPhone app.
Foxtel on Xbox, a service giving subscribers 30 television channels and movies on demand, was launched to BigPond cable customers in June.
Customers of other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can already access the service over an ADSl2+ or fast ADSL1 connection across Australia. Foxtel on the Xbox is not available in all areas, but is a good alternative to paying for satellite or cable channels for customers who have access in their area, plus the gaming console.
Telstra’s executive director of media, J-B Rousselot, said: "We know the range of content, and the fact customers can switch on and off the service month by month, has hit the sweet spot for our customers so will continue to roll the service out to more Australians in the months ahead."
Telstra has also launched a free iPhone remote control app giving T-Box customers the ability to change the channel, record and, by shaking the iPhone, mute the sound. An Android version of the app will soon be available.
The telco also has expansion plans for BigPond movies. "We're continuing to expand our digital content in the year ahead and we will be providing BigPond Movies to Android tablets and continuing to upgrade our content on the T-Box and other smart devices to give customers even more choice," Mr Rousselot added.
Customers of other ISPs can also enjoy BigPond movies, a library of movies available to rent on demand, by using a Samsung Smart TV or LG TV with NetCast. BigPond Movies service requires a minimum data speed of 3.5Mbps to work correctly.
Foxtel on Xbox 360: no data usage charges
- Six BigPond channels available
- Unmetered video
- On Demand Video also available
Telstra Bigpond customers will be free of data charges when using the Foxtel on Xbox 360 service. Foxtel has also announced the addition of six BigPond TV channels which will be added to the service from today, which will cover sports, racing and news.
The new move means that viewing video content will be unmetered for Telstra BigPond customers when using the FOXTEL on Xbox 360 service.
FOXTEL Executive Director of Product & Sales, Patrick Delany said, “This arrangement with Telstra is a big win for FOXTEL on Xbox 360 users, allowing unmetered access to thousands of hours of great programming – all without a FOXTEL fixed term contract. There are around 1.3 million Xbox consoles in Australia and getting unmetered access to FOXTEL on Xbox 360 is now as simple as plugging into BigPond internet to give subscription TV a go.
“The FOXTEL on Xbox 360 service offers FOXTEL’s huge amount of exclusive and first run TV programming, plus access to hours and hours of On Demand TV episodes, new release films and movie favourites. There’s always something to watch, either live or On Demand and it’s simple to sign up online and start watching straight away.”
The elimination of data charges isn’t the first move Foxtel has taken to improve their service. Other initiatives have included the ability to download Foxtel programs to PCs via the Foxtel app, as well as the ability to use the Xbox 360 as a set-top box to view iPTV content.
Bigpond offers FOXTEL on the T-Box
Bigpond is offering FOXTEL over its ADSL and cable broadband services through the T-Box.
Telstra customers will see 30 of FOXTEL's channels, including FOX Sports Play, Movie One and Showtime Premiere streamed unmetered to their set-top T-Box.
Telstra chief executive officer, David Thodey, said: "With T-Boxes in close to 120,000 Australian homes, Telstra is helping to usher in a new era of internet-delivered home entertainment across Australia.
"For many customers it will open up an exciting world of affordable internet delivered home entertainment."
FOXTEL chief executive and managing director, Kim Williams, said: "For those Australians who may not yet be ready to take the full FOXTEL service – with its choice of over 200 channels, 20 HD channels and full digital recorder functionality – or those who may want to focus on a condensed service and internet delivery, then FOXTEL on T-Box offers a superb alternative that will connect strongly with their wants and needs."
The Telstra T-Box can pause, rewind and record live free-to-air TV, with storage of up to 100 hours of content. Telstra said more products, including IPTV-enabled televisions, will be announced in the coming months.
Australian broadband customers are starting to see more choice in television services delivered over the internet (IPTV).
Customers of other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can subscribe to FOXTEL channels and movies on demand through their Xbox, while iiNet offers a competing TV service on fetchTV.
Internode also has plans to introduce fetchTV services, while TPG is trialing its own IPTV service, offering free TV channels to eligible ADSL2+ broadband customers.
Foxtel is one of Australia's most progressive and dynamic media companies, directly employing more than 2,800 people, and delivering a diverse subscription television service to both regional and metropolitan areas over cable, satellite and broadband distribution.
We offer a better entertainment experience every day to each one of our 2.8 million subscribing homes through delivery of exclusive and inspiring programming across all genres, the world’s most popular channel brands, and investment in high quality local content.
As constant champions of innovation we have brought our customers:
- The iQ personal video recorder
- Australia's largest HD channel offering, with 36 dedicated channels
- Television, broadband and home phone bundles with Foxtel internet and voice services delivered over Australia’s largest telecommunications network
- Live and catch up TV on your tablet or other mobile device with Foxtel Go
- Flexible access with our internet TV service Foxtel Play
- Presto, our subscription on demand (SVOD) entertainment service featuring movies and complete TV seasons
In addition, the subscription television sector invests around $700 million every year in new and original Australian content. In addition to its own employees, a further 2,000 Australians are employed by our partners to install and support Foxtel’s service around the nation.
The Foxtel Television Centre at North Ryde in Sydney is the headquarters of Foxtel's national subscription television operations and houses Foxtel's television studios, broadcast operations and cable and satellite transmission facilities. Foxtel also operates two Customer Solutions Centres based at Moonee Ponds in Melbourne, and Robina on the Gold Coast.
Foxtel is owned by Telstra Corporation Ltd (50%) and The News Corporation Ltd (50%).
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