Review was updated on 20th May, 2019
The great thing about Foxtel is that there’s something for everyone across its dozens and dozens of channels – sports, movies, premium TV, drama and comedy, documentaries, news, it’s all there for the watching.
And of course, there’s plenty on Foxtel for the kids! With five channels provided as part of the Kids channel pack – which costs only $10 per month on top of your regular subscription, and of course is included in the Platinum HD plan – there’s plenty to keep the kids amused, entertained and educated, whether they be little kids or big. That’s on top of the three kids’ channels that are included as part of the base Entertainment Pack that every Foxtel subscriber gets, giving you Disney Jr, Nick Jr and Boomerang at no extra cost.
The interface is bright and colourful and the buttons big and helpful, but it’s all done really nicely without being cheesy.
Introducing Foxtel for Kids
Of course, we all like watching our TV on the go – and kids are no exception! Foxtel’s made it nice and easy to stream their channels anywhere you happen to be via the recently upgraded Foxtel Go app and website, and for grown-ups that want to catch some live TV or stream episodes of shows to catch up, it’s perfect.
The Foxtel Go app has even got a special section for Kids – which is extremely handy, but a little less than kid-friendly in a couple of ways. For starters, its interface is very much designed for grown-ups – it’s clean, efficient and informational, all things kids aren’t going to click with. And it’s also got the disadvantage of offering access to all your Foxtel channels. The last thing you want to do is hand your iPad to your 5-year-old to watch Thomas and Friends, then check back later to find they’ve stumbled across the latest Game of Thrones episode! That’s where the Foxtel Kids app comes in.
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What Makes Foxtel Kids Different?
Right from the moment you load up the Foxtel Kids app (free from the iOS and Android app stores) you’ll realise this is something that was designed from the ground up to be friendly, fun and useful to your kids – the interface is bright and colourful and the buttons big and helpful, but it’s all done really nicely without being cheesy.
The first thing you’ll need to do is set a 4-digit PIN. This is done to make sure the little ones can’t accidentally tap on the settings button and start messing with the way you’ve set everything up. And it’s this setup screen that holds all the secret power of the Foxtel Kids app!
The main interface that the kids access is really simple – after a home screen showing you the latest highlights, the eight channels are there on their own screen as big, colourful icons, and tapping on any of them takes you to that channel’s shows. You can then tap on a show name to see the available episodes (there’s no live TV streaming on the Kids app – it’s all on demand only). Downloading episodes to your device is available for some shows, and any shows downloaded (simply by tapping on the episode’s “cloud” icon) appear in their own section off the main menu.
As for the availability of the episodes themselves, it’s mixed at best – an unfortunate side-effect of licencing restrictions, we’d guess. For most shows, there are only a handful of episodes available, though these are constantly being refreshed so there’s always something new to watch. But if you were hoping to find entire seasons for the kids to binge-watch, you’ll be disappointed (though perhaps it’s best to save the concept of binge watching until they get a bit older!)
Take the Controls
For the parents, the important stuff is all hidden behind that Settings icon. Enter your PIN and you’re taken to a settings screen that gives you a fine level of control over how your kids use the app.
Timer: You can set a length of time that a viewing session lasts, from 10 minutes to 2 hours. When the time runs out, the screen will lock – though if there’s less than 3 minutes of a show left, it’ll be allowed to finish first, to avoid tears and drama!
Channel Filter: If you don’t want your kids watching one or more of the channels, you can disable them on a per-channel basis from this menu.
Classification Filter: Sets whether to only allow G-rated content, or if PG-rated shows are allowed to be viewed as well. This is a particularly handy setting for the little kids who aren’t ready for PG stuff just yet.
Age Filter: You can set the app to filter all shows across all channels based on age group – Little Kids (5 and under), Big Kids (5 and up) or all kids. This affects PG rated content as well as general program suitability, and gives you another level of control.
Download Settings: Lets you set downloads to require a PIN (so the kids can’t accidentally burn through your bandwidth) and whether downloads are allowed on mobile networks or not. You can also set the visual quality of the downloaded show (with “Best” using more data) via the Data Usage Settings menu.
Which Channels are Available?
You’ll find shows from all eight of the Foxtel kids’ channels here – though it’s important to mention that to access the app at all, you’ll need the optional $10/month Kids channel pack (which you probably already have, if you have the kids!) While the three Entertainment Pack kids’ channels are available in the app as well, you can’t access them without subscribing to the Kids channel pack.
The eight channels on offer are:
- Nick Jr
- Disney Channel
- Disney Junior
- Cartoon Network
- Discovery Kids
Foxtel TV Plans
Foxtel says that the Foxtel Kids app will use about 320MB per hour of data when on wi-fi, or 170MB/hour on 3G/4G, if you set the video to the lowest quality option. While data is unmetered for your home broadband if you’re a Foxtel Broadband customer, if you’re planning on letting the kids spend a lot of time with the app you’ll want to go for an unlimited-data plan at home, and download as many shows as you can to the app before you go out on the road. While 170Mb/hour is pretty reasonable, it’ll add up quickly!
Best of Both Worlds?
Foxtel’s certainly not the only TV provider to offer a special app for the kids – the ABC’s had a very popular kids iView app available for some time – but they’ve done a really nice job with it, and provided parents with a terrific amount of fine-grained control over what the kids get to watch and how long they get to watch it – very important in this screen-obsessed era. If you have the Kids channel pack as part of your Foxtel subscription, be sure to grab this excellent, free app for your phones and tablets, then give them a road test with your kids to see if they pass the ultimate test – the kids’ stamp of approval!