When Foxtel’s live and on-demand streaming service Foxtel Now first arrived, the Australian market hadn’t yet been shaken up by the arrival of global giant Netflix and fresh local upstart Stan. Play was intended as the Foxtel you can get if you don’t want to physically install Foxtel – a near-equivalent service at a near-equivalent price, but streaming via the internet rather than being received via cable or satellite.
Foxtel has been paying keen attention to the way the market has changed over the past couple of years, though – especially the “entry level” price bracket, which is now dominated by Netflix and Stan with their low cost of entry. Foxtel Now, meanwhile, has found itself in an awkward position of being a bundle-based streaming service that looks expensive by comparison (though to be fair, it’s providing dozens of live TV channels as well as on-demand streaming).
Speaking at the ASTRA Conference yesterday,
Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh announced plans to shake things up with a revamp of Foxtel Now, beginning this December. Based around a complete reworking of the service’s pricing model, the aim is to offer low-cost entry points to the service while still offering access to Foxtel’s premium content for those who want to pay extra for it.
The plan is to split Foxtel Now entry-level offerings into five categories – two drama options, lifestyle, documentary and kids. Subscribers will be able to pick just one of those packages if that’s all they want to watch – no longer will you need to pay for the basic entertainment channel package before you’re able to add a drama or documentaries pack, for example. On top of these entry-level packages, you’ll be able to pay extra for sports and movies packages, effectively allowing you to build your own pay TV service to match your own needs and budget.
Catch-up and on-demand library content for each tier is included – as is access to those channels and streams via Foxtel Go – and while no announcement has yet been made about what this means for the future of Foxtel’s current on-demand streaming service Presto, it would seem likely that its future may not extend beyond the end of the year, with Foxtel Now picking up where Presto leaves off. Foxtel’s new deal with HBO – which includes long-term access for streaming that network’s content – is certainly going to sweeten the deal for a great many people.
Alongside the Play revamp, Foxtel is developing a new low-cost streaming device to access all of Play’s content. Referred to in the industry as a “puck” because of its tiny size, these tony devices are growing in popularity (the Fetch TV Mini is the latest contender). The as-yet-unseen device is likely to be an extremely cheap way to get Foxtel Now onto your TV; the set-top-box sized Telstra TV retails for $109, so we’d expect the new Play device to be substantially cheaper than that.
Exact pricing for the new Foxtel Now service has not yet been announced, but be sure to keep an eye on CompareTV – as soon as more information arrives about the date, packages and pricing for the new Foxtel Now is announced, we’ll be letting you know!