Littered amongst the pure streaming platforms such as Netflix and Stan are the likes of Fetch TV and Foxtel, which offer a combination of on-demand streaming and traditional TV features such as live news, sports, pay and FTA stations and more.
With the re-imagining of Foxtel Play into the Foxtel Now format, the subscription giant has offered a direct alternative to Fetch TV. The Foxtel Now online service is available without the use of invasive cables and set-top boxes, though a box option is also available.
With similar features and pricing points, it’s important to compare the two and see whether Fetch TV or Foxtel/Foxtel Now is the best fit for you.
Foxtel vs Fetch TV
Both platforms deliver their content in packages. With Fetch TV, you will be left with the barebones to start with (unless you have organised one Premium Package with your telco), with just 30 rotating monthly movies on offer. Each channel pack is viewed as an additional feature, but at a low cost of $6/month it allows you the flexibility of selecting a number of channels that work for you right out of the gate at a lower entry cost than both Foxtel and Foxtel Now.
Where Fetch TV and Foxtel stand out from the likes of Netflix and Stan is in their ability to provide access to live content across both FTA and pay TV stations. This, of course, means news and sport.
On the news front, Fetch TV is arguably better placed than Foxtel. Fetch TV users can purchase the ‘Knowledge’ add on pack for a mere $6/month which includes not only a stack of channels for food and travel enthusiasts, but also a slew of news outlets to keep abreast of all the breaking developments, including BBC World News, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, France 24, Aljazeera, EuroNews, Channel NewsAsia, NDTV 24x 7 and CGTN.
While your standard Foxtel set-top box subscription comes with the ‘Entertainment’ package – which easily outclasses the offerings of Fetch TV’s optional ‘Knowledge’ – the comparative Foxtel Now provides fewer options. These are, however, included from the outset, so you won’t need to purchase them. Sky News Live, Sky News UK, Sky News Extra and Fox News are dedicated mainstream news sources with Fox Sports News, Your Money and Sky News Weather also included as standard.
In terms of news, Foxtel Now is more than serviceable, but for a broader range of perspectives and a global view Fetch TV offers a higher quality product.
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To start watching sport on Fetch TV you will need to purchase the ‘Vibe’ package as a minimum. The Vibe package contains three dedicated sports channels: ESPN, ESPN 2 and EDGE Sports. The ESPN channels will provide you with a healthy dose of American Sports and some content catered for Australian markets in addition to occasional football fixtures. EDGE Sports provides your action adrenalin quotient with extreme sports, surfing, skating and more.
There are additional add-ons that incur a further price to take Fetch TV’s sports offering to the next level. The beIN Sports package ($19.99/month) which includes all three beIN Sports channels is great for football lovers, showcasing some of the world’s premier leagues including Serie A, live La Liga action, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and some EPL matches. It also includes the WTA Tour and test rugby matches. For the true EPL experience, Optus Sport can be added on for $14.99/month.
Notably absent from Fetch TV are domestic codes, and this is where Foxtel and Foxtel Now really shine. Foxtel Now’s sports package provides all exclusive Fox content, plus all three beIN Sport channels and ESPN 1 and 2. In total, you can regularly access over 40 different sports. This includes live-streaming coverage of AFL, NRL, NBA, NFL, Super Rugby, Australian and European football, Supercars, Formula 1™, international cricket and more!
The sports package is a premium package on Foxtel Now and as a result needs to be added to a starter pack. This means that while the sport package itself is $29, that is an additional cost to the $25 that you’ll pay for a starter pack. If you want to get your sports fix on Foxtel Now you’re looking at $54 a month.
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Exclusive Content and Accessibility
Exclusive content is always a key selling point when it comes to SVOD platforms. Aside from the sports exclusivity, Foxtel and Foxtel Now feature some of the biggest drama programs on offer. Foxtel Now, in particular, offers the big guns from the get go.
Included in their entry pack, Pop & Lifestyle pack, is the Showcase channel. This will give you access to all the big HBO Dramas including Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Westworld and a whole lot more. Users also get access to these big shows just hours after they air in the US, and with the ability to stream them on demand you can binge to get back up to date if need be! Foxtel Now also incorporates easy access to Stan but does not offer a Netflix interface.
In general, Fetch TV has a much smaller content base and is found wanting when it comes to genuinely exclusive (and original) content. Foxtel and Foxtel Now also have a large library of movies and TV series incorporated in the platform and ready to watch, whereas Fetch TV users will have to pay to purchase or rent certain content.
Where Fetch TV is superior to Foxtel and Foxtel Now is the tie-in SVOD platforms. Fetch TV incorporates both Netflix and Stan in addition to offering support for other smaller streaming platforms in a simple Android TV style layout. In contrast, Foxtel Now will typically push Foxtel content to the user and ignore similar content from third parties, meaning you will need to search for it instead.
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How can I watch them?
Fetch TV requires a set-top box and a strong internet connection. Two set-top’s are available – the Fetch TV Mini and the Fetch TV Mighty. Unless organised with a telco – you can bundle it in to some broadband services – a set-top box will need to be purchased.
The Mini player costs $169 with a $1 activation fee (allowing immediate access to 30 movies which rotate throughout the month), while the Mighty will set you back $399. Fetch TV can also be watched via the Fetch TV app.
Standard Foxtel requires the installation of cables, subscribing to the service and installing a set-top box, although you won’t need an internet connection to run the service. Prices vary on both the installation and box dependent on whether you bundle your service with certain telcos or go directly through Foxtel.
Foxtel Now’s strength lies in it’s viewing versatility. There are over 10 ways to watch Foxtel Now including through the set-top box, mobile apps, Chromecast and other TV platforms such as Apple and Telstra.
Cost and features
If you don’t bundle Fetch TV with an internet provider things can get pretty costly early on. With a player required you’re looking at an initial outlay of $169 or $399. There is a $1 activation fee and from there, various Premium Packages can be purchased for $6/month. More specialised packages vary from $0 (Hillsong + ACC are offered free) to $19.99 (beIN Sports) with the UFC also offered at a varying pay per view rate. When bundled with a provider, however, it is possible to receive the Mighty set-top box, activation and one premium package built into the contract for a low price, providing $406 of value up front.
In terms of features, these vary from the Mighty to the Mini player. The Mighty allows you to pause and rewind live TV in an infinite time frame, whereas the Mini can pause and rewind live TV within a 15 minute time period. A massive benefit of the Mighty player is the ability to record up to six channels at once from three different networks or streaming pay TV. The Mighty is also capable of Ultra HD streaming – which is a big win, especially for Netflix users – whilst the Mini is capable of providing Full HD.
With Foxtel’s set-top box, you get a huge amount of recording storage space, the ability to pause and rewind live TV and a straightforward layout. The fee of a set-top box varies depending on the type of box you get and whether you bundle it with a broadband provider, but an IQ4 set top box which requires a 12-month subscription will set you back $1893.03 with an additional $100 install fee. The different packages selected will also affect the overall content you can receive and the price you will pay.
Foxtel Now waives the lock-in contract, can be used without the need for the Foxtel Now box (though one of these will cost you $80) and the cost is largely dependent on the packages you utilise, but if you were to sign up and obtain all the packs at once you would be looking at an ongoing cost of $104/month, or a base cost of $25 to obtain a basic pack. There are no set up costs involved.
All three options have their benefits. If your primary concern is cost effectiveness, then Fetch TV is the way to go. With easy usability, a good mix of content and a low introductory price you can’t really go wrong.
If you’re after premium content and you love your sports, however, then you can’t go past Foxtel and Foxtel Now. With Foxtel Now offering the bulk of the same content as its cable-based counterpart and with the ability to watch on the go at a cheaper rate, it’s definitely the way to go in the Foxtel realm.