Fetch TV combines Free to Air & Subscription TV channels, Catch Up TV, PVR, and a Movie & TV rental service. The question is… does it do a good job in all these areas?
In a world already filled with small black boxes, the latest Fetch TV boxes could be dismissed as just more kit to clutter up your living room. So, do the features make Fetch TV a worthwhile addition to your home entertainment system?
The boxes themselves (both “Mini” and “Mighty” versions) are compact and quite attractive, with “floating” panels which almost make it appear that the box is flying apart in front of your eyes. The box has no buttons on the front, so you’ll be relying totally on the remote control to navigate the interface. The remote can also be set up to control many TV brands, or the Fetch box can be controlled by a programmable universal remote, such as a Logitech Harmony or similar.
What makes Fetch TV different?
Fetch TV boasts a plethora of functions. It is primarily a PVR and a catch-up TV service, which also offers four digital tuners (for recording six channels simultaneously while watching a seventh), and a movie purchase and rental service.
The Fetch box requires an internet connection to function, as it obtains the TV Guide from the Fetch servers rather than over the air from digital TV broadcasts (this is so it can manage both Free to Air and subscription channels through a single TV Guide interface). The Free to Air channels are obtained from a conventional TV antenna, not the internet connection, so you’ll still need an antenna cable to watch and record the FTA TV channels.
The Fetch box can use either an ethernet or Wi-Fi connection – though if you can do it, Ethernet is the better option, as most home Wi-Fi set-ups cannot maintain the bandwidth and quality of service that streaming video over two or more channels concurrently would demand.
Add-on packages can boost the number of available channels, and there is a free companion app, enabling you to watch selected entertainment channels, movies, and Free to Air recordings on your phone or tablet.
What does Fetch TV deliver?
Fetch TV’s movie library offers most first-release titles at the same time as they become available on other sources (iTunes, Google Play, etc). There is also a reasonable back-catalogue of films – recent releases are well-supported, but don’t expect to find much in the way of classics or World movies. Movie rental prices range from around $5.95 for a new release, $6.95 for an HD new release and $3.95 for a back-catalogue title. Many titles are also available for purchase, with prices comparable to other online movie stores.
Users can also buy TV series, either as single episodes, or entire series. Game of Thrones, for instance, is available to purchase, as is the highly acclaimed Big Little Lies. Fetch users can also purchase series like Suits, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Ballers, Outlander, Veep, The Walking Dead, The 100, and more.
Fetch TV receives all digital Free to Air (FTA) channels, in both SD and HD. In addition to all of the FTA channels, Fetch offers a unique broadband-delivered subscription TV service, with 50 extra channels. The FTA and Subscription channels are accessed through a single combined TV Guide, and PVR recording and playback functionality works identically regardless of whether the content is FTA or subscription-based.
As for paid channels, for only $6 a month Fetch TV will deliver premium channels tailored to your interests. These are built into four packages: Kids, Knowledge, Vibe, and Variety. You can also get them all for $20/month. For special interests, Fetch TV offers channels like beIN Sports and Horse & Country for a monthly fee. Customers who sign up for Fetch TV through Optus can also add on Optus Sports for access to Premier League games. Plus, Fetch TV has World TV packs available for $9.95 – $49.95/month.
The main channel bundles are:
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In addition to the TV and Movie offerings, Fetch TV offers catch-up services from all the major networks. This means you don’t need to worry about recording a lot of content on ABC, SBS, Seven or Ten, as much of their popular broadcast content is available on catch-up for about two weeks after broadcast. (For longer-term viewing and especially for HD picture quality, though, you’ll need to set up recordings from the TV Guide). Catch-up services are easily accessed from the Main Menu.
Fetch TV also has a native YouTube app, and native Netflix, Stan and hayu apps. Those require separate subscriptions, of course, but do make the Fetch TV box a one-stop media hub for most of your family’s viewing.
What about sport/movies/TV shows?
While Fetch TV doesn’t have a dedicated sport service (aside from the Optus Sport service which is delivered via the Fetch TV platform but only available to Optus customers) you’ll find both ESPN channels in the “Vibe” pack which will give you a solid 24/7 dose of international sport.
It’s movies and TV shows where Fetch really shines as a service, providing comprehensive access to a vast amount of content on the one device – from Free to Air TV to subscription streaming services, from TV catch-up to original internet content, and with movie and TV show rental on tap for those who need the latest. With some providers, you also get 30 free movies every month (chosen by Fetch) in their “Movie Box” section – a new movie every day!
The hard drive on the Fetch Mighty is a respectable 1TB, which allows you to record and store over 500 hours of standard definition TV to watch at your convenience (or rather less HD content). The Fetch Mini has no hard drive at all – it can only stream from the internet and receive live TV channels, though if it’s on the same home network as a Mighty it can access recordings on that device. The Electronic Program Guide is simple and straightforward, and the excellent remote control doesn’t suffer from being overly complicated either.
Peeking through the panels is a bright blue light, which tells you that the device is on, has an internet connection, and whether or not it is recording. In a dark room, the light can be distracting if it is close to the TV screen – you may want to cover it with masking tape or position the box out of the line of sight, particularly if watching movies in the dark.
The User Interface is modern and simple to navigate, with all the main functions grouped under clear and logical sub-menus.
How to access Fetch TV
Fetch TV can be rented from several ISPs, or can be purchased as a retail product from a number of electrical retailers. Bundled inclusions and subscription offerings vary depending on where your set-top box comes from. If you are tempted to buy a second-hand Fetch TV box, be very careful to check whether it is an ISP-sourced set-top box or a retail box, as the ISP boxes are coded to the ISP’s network, and will only work with an internet connection provided by the original ISP.
Several ISPs are on board with Fetch, including Optus (special offers and reviews here), Dodo, iPrimus, iiNet, Internode and Westnet – all of which are offering their own deals. If your existing ISP has a Fetch TV offering, that will probably be your simplest choice; otherwise, you can look at purchasing a retail Fetch Mighty, which sells for around $399.
Fetch TV is able to handle the billing itself if you’ve already bought the retail box; they charge a $1 one-off activation fee to ensure that your box will function as a PVR, catch-up service, and digital receiver.
Fetch TV also offers a free smartphone / tablet app (available on iOS or Android), which allows you to program your DVR remotely, and even watch some Fetch TV connect on your mobile device.
Fetch TV – It’s Pay TV for the Internet Age
We see Fetch TV as one of the top TV subscription services on the market; it easily combines Free to Air channels, catch-up services, movies and TV series, and online content (including Netflix and Stan) all in the same interface.
As it uses your internet connection to run its subscription channels, you’ll need decent broadband speed in order for it to be reliable, and a hefty data plan to cater for all those movies you’ll be watching. (Some ISPs who offer Fetch TV don’t meter Fetch TV data or have “unlimited” broadband packages; check with your ISP). Another bonus is the mobile app coverage – meaning you’ll never have another boring train ride to work, since you can watch on mobile devices via Wi-Fi and 3G/4G.
A possible downside to Fetch TV for some consumers is the way they have teamed up with several ISPs to subsidise the hardware and allowed them to take control of the billing. This has led to a pricing system which is a little bit inconsistent and sometimes not even clearly advertised by the ISP. One way to combat this is to buy the box outright from a retailer and let Fetch TV handle the billing.
All in all, though, Fetch TV is a great value, feature-packed alternative for pay TV, built around a seriously impressive piece of hardware that’ll end up being the centre of all your TV entertainment.