Foxtel has announced a new service that brings its cable TV channels and catch-up video to smartphones, tablets, PCs, Macs and games consoles. It will not require an existing subscription to Foxtel’s cable TV network, and will be delivered entirely digitally.
Foxtel Play, which will launch in June, is a no-contract streaming service that delivers Foxtel’s existing subscription channels and archived TV and movie catalog over IPTV. Unlike Foxtel Go, the Foxtel Play service will be independent of a physical cable subscription to Foxtel.
Play will launch across “multiple Internet-connected devices”, including Smart TVs and games consoles, as well as “smartphones, tablets, PC and Mac” through the existing Foxtel Go app.
Subscriptions will be monthly, with no lock-in contracts, and a package-based system starting from $25 a month that will likely mirror the company’s existing streaming channel packages.
Foxtel says over 40 live streaming TV channels will be available to choose from, as well as more than 2000 catch-up programs and movies. Like the standard Foxtel service, access to catch-up will vary based on a subscriber’s channel package selection.
At the ASTRA conference in Sydney, Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein introduced the service. ““Foxtel Play develops our “off the box” internet TV products by expanding on the existing Foxtel on Xbox 360 and Foxtel on Internet TV services to provide one Foxtel internet TV offering across multiple devices.
“This is a perfect new way for those people who have not yet experienced Foxtel to enjoy our popular content at flexible price points offering value to suit varying budgets and needs. Foxtel Play combines the ease and portability of internet connectivity with fantastic entertainment to welcome a whole new set of customers to Foxtel.”
In a technical sense, all Foxtel has to do to launch Play right now is to open up access to cable-free subscriptions — it already has a Smart TV streaming service for Samsung TVs, it already has a games console in the Xbox 360, and “smartphones and tablets” could just mean iPads and iPhones.
It’s possible that the June launch date is to allow TV manufacturers like LG, Sony and Panasonic an opportunity to announce their new Smart TVs’ compatibility with Foxtel Play, and similarly for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4. Yearly TV line-up announcements are usually made in the March-April-May period, and Sony has said that more information about the PS4 would be released throughout the year.
Foxtel’s already-available Go streaming app is currently only available for PC, Mac, and iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad, but Android support should also be finalised by the Foxtel Play launch in June — this would open up the app to a much wider range of devices. Foxtel has said previously that its choice to prioritise iOS app development was due to the higher penetration of those devices in existing Foxtel subscriber households, but a household-free streaming service does not have that limitation.