Whether you’re already a Foxtel subscriber or you’ve been browsing their site thinking about signing up, you’ve probably seen their Foxtel App streaming service mentioned. But what is it? And is it worth checking out? Let’s take a look at Foxtel’s helpful sibling.
Let’s first talk about what Foxtel Go, recently renamed simply the Foxtel App, isn’t. There’s a bit of confusion when it comes to the Foxtel app versus Foxtel’s other online-streaming service Foxtel Now. And that’s understandable – the two services do share in common the ability to watch Foxtel’s 70+ channels at any time of the day or night. And they’re also streamed live via the internet, rather than through a dedicated cable. But the similarity ends there.
The Foxtel App is not a service that you can subscribe to by itself. You can download the app for free, sure, but when you fire it up you’ll be presented with two things: a free live stream of Sky News (kind of handy, actually, if all you’re after is access to a live-streaming news channel on your mobile device!) and a prompt to enter your Foxtel account login details.
That’s because the Foxtel App is a companion to the main Foxtel service itself, and requires an active Foxtel subscription to function. Foxtel Now, meanwhile, is a live-streamed version of the actual Foxtel subscription service that you pay monthly for. In a nutshell, if you want to watch Foxtel, you have two choices – subscribe to the cable/satellite service, or subscribe to Foxtel Now. Either of those will get Foxtel onto your TV screen at home. Foxtel Now does that via apps running on game consoles, smart TVs or your PC – it’s the Foxtel you can have when you can’t get the Foxtel box physically installed in your home. When you subscribe to Foxtel’s pay TV services, you automatically get access to Foxtel Go.
And from a value point of view, it’s brilliant. For no extra money at all – yes, it’s completely free and included with your subscription – you can take your Foxtel with you on your smartphone or tablet. So you can access the same channel selection that you subscribe to on your main Foxtel service, streamed live around the clock.
How It Works
First of all, you need to download the free app, which is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, as well as apps for Windows and Mac (those PC apps are only available to physical-installed Foxtel customers, though). You then sign in with the same login that you use to access your Foxtel account online. You will have been given those details when you signed up for a subscription.
Now here’s the good bit: you can watch Foxtel via the Foxtel app on two devices simultaneously at the same time as someone watches Foxtel on the TV via their iQ box or Foxtel Now. And yes, they can be on different channels! That’s great news for, say, families with kids that want to watch the latest episode of The Flash at the same inconvenient time that dad wants to watch the US Open. You don’t even need to be in the same house (or even the same part of the country) to do it, either. Just as long as a maximum of two Foxtel Go streams are being watched at a time. There’s a limit of three registered devices that you can log into with your account (only two can stream at a time) and you can swap out a device for a new one once every 30 days.
When you load up the app you’re greeted with a screen that lets you choose between watching live TV, or selecting a show from the titles available on-demand via the Foxtel On Demand service. What’s on offer for both is directly tied to the channel packages your home Foxtel service has access to; the channels and shows you can’t play display a “lock” symbol to make it crystal-clear what you can and can’t view.
For live TV it’s as simple as tapping on the channel you want from the list. The program currently screening on each channel is right there in the list to make things nice and fast. Just tap and within seconds you’ve got live Foxtel in your hands, the show playing in a tiny window. Just turn your phone on its side (or, for tablets, tap the full-screen icon) and the video flips to fill the screen – so you can watch without distractions.
Another neat feature is the “iQ” icon on the show’s page as it plays. Tapping that lets you instantly command your iQ box at home to record the show. Yes, that’s right, you can actually record on your home PVR from anywhere in Australia where there’s internet access. This feature’s perfect for those times – and we’ve all done it – where you head out for the evening and suddenly realise you forgot to set the iQ to record Game of Thrones. Just fire up the Foxtel Go app, find the show in the list, and start it recording for you to watch when you get back home. It’s a brilliant feature.
One of the killer features of Foxtel Go isn’t one that you’d immediately think of – the ability to watch live streams of your favourite sports no matter where you are. Every Fox Sports channel is available on the app. So if you’ve got the sports pack active on your Foxtel service you automatically get access to those same channels on your mobile devices. You don’t need to rush home to watch the footy or the Formula One if you’re out and about – just pull out your phone or tablet, fire up Foxtel Go and have the action streamed live, anywhere you happen to be.
And that means access to live streams of dozens of the most-watched sports in Australia and around the world, including:
- AFL Premiership
- Major League Baseball
- Wallabies Rugby Union
- NHL Hockey Playoffs
- Super Rugby League
- PGA Golf Tour
- A-League Soccer
- World Surfing League
- Supercars Championship
- NFL American Football
- Formula One Racing
- NBA Basketball
- Indian Premier League
- ATP Tennis Tour
- Men’s and Women’s Cricket
- Champions League
- MotoGP Championship
- UFC Fight Nights
- NRL Premiership
And that’s just scratching the surface of what’s on offer, with 19 channels streaming live sports wherever they’re happening in the world, 24 hours a day. Don’t forget, you can tell your iQ box back at home to start recording any channel you’re watching at any time – so if that last quarter looks like being a nail-biter, you can capture it on your iQ and watch it when you get home in HD!
Sports Streaming Plans
So what’s the picture quality like? Good news is, you can now stream in HD using the Foxtel Go app. But then again, that’s not much of a big deal on most portable devices; you’re watching on a much smaller screen, for a start, and the app does an excellent job of scaling the streamed image to your screen’s size. Besides, how many smartphones or tablets support 4K? There’s also the matter of data usage – you don’t want to be streaming HD on a cellular connection, even if you had a generous data cap, because the data rate required for HD would eat up your allowance in no time. It’s a good compromise between usability and quality, and we think they’ve got the balance right.
If you happen to be a customer of Telstra or Foxtel Broadband for your home internet connection, all Foxtel Go usage is completely unmetered – that is, it doesn’t count towards your monthly data allowance. That’s a big plus for families once again, as there’s no need to watch out for your entire month’s download limit being quietly used up by someone falling asleep while watching the National Darts Finals.
You can’t get a better price than free, and Foxtel Go is exactly that – a totally free bonus on top of the Foxtel subscription you already pay for. It gives you a lot more flexibility about how, when and where you watch your Foxtel shows, and has the added bonus of working as a remote-recording control for your iQ box at home, making sure you never miss any of your favourite shows no matter where you are. The app itself is extremely well designed and runs perfectly on a wide variety of devices – we tested on iOS, and regardless of whether it was a recent iPhone 6s or a relatively ancient iPad 3 (the app works on the older iPad 2 and iPhone 4 as well) it was fast, responsive and easy to use, with playback of the live-streamed channels being smooth and flawless.
If you’ve got Foxtel, grab the Foxtel Go app for your mobile devices and give it a try. It won’t cost you a cent, and it might just make your entertainment options that much better.