Updated October 2017 with additional information.
Presto – The Short-lived Australian Answer to Netflix
Back in 2014, the Netflix phenomenon
had yet to arrive in Australia. However, it was well-known that hundreds of thousands of Australians were using the American version of the streaming service. And, at the same time, discovering the convenience of on-demand movies and TV shows for a flat monthly price. Foxtel noticed this too
. In response, they set up a streaming service of their own in early 2014. Named Presto, it originally only offered movie streaming. It also came with a fairly hefty price – nearly $20 per month.
Then, with Netflix set to arrive on our shores and local start-up Stan racing to beat them to launch, Foxtel had an idea. They made a partnership with the Seven Network to turn Presto into a Netflix-like streaming service that offered both movies and TV shows on demand. They launched the revamped Presto in January 2015. Just a couple of weeks before the arrival of Stan and well ahead the local launch of Netflix.
It was a rocky start. The $14.99/month price point was still sitting higher than their rivals’. Plus, the service offered no high definition streaming at all (that arrived later in the year). But Presto had some key advantages. The service unlocked exclusive access to shows from the acclaimed HBO network, as well as some specially-made content from Seven like Home and Away specials.
And yet, customers didn’t quite rush through the doors. With only around 130,000 subscribers by late 2016, Seven sold its share of Presto back to Foxtel. Then Foxtel announced that the service would shut down permanently on January 31st 2017.
Foxtel Now – The Highly Improved Foxtel Streaming Service
After the announcement, Foxtel decided to play to its strengths. They secured new streaming deals for some of their key shows (including an expanded HBO deal) and had already figured out how competitive the on-demand streaming market can be. The telco built a new-generation streaming service that would offer, besides on-demand content, live premium TV – and live sports! Something on demand services simply can’t do
Foxtel’s existing streaming service, Foxtel Play, was given a complete overhaul. Subscribers got a new app with a much-improved user interface, high definition streaming, new pricing and a new name – Foxtel Now. Previous Presto subscribers that still had active accounts were invited to join the revitalised platform. Today, and the service continues to expand and improve as it makes its way into hundreds of thousands of homes.
Foxtel Now divides Foxtel’s channels into attractive channel packs, with only one base pack required to gain access to the service. The base cost of entry is only $10/month, with once-pricey options like premium drama available for only $15/month.
Foxtel Now works on on Playstation 4, Telstra TV, iOS & Android devices (with full Chromecast support). You can also access it on PCs and Macs via a web browser, with the updated app coming soon to other platforms. Most excitingly, a dedicated Foxtel Now streaming box is right around the corner, giving everyone a high-quality, plug-and-play way of streaming Foxtel Now at an incredibly low price.