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Wednesday, 07 September 2016 08:34

Foxtel to lower prices to better compete with SVOD services

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If you want to access Foxtel via its Foxtel Play IPTV service, prices will be a lot more competitive from December 2016 as it fights back against Netflix and similar services.

Promising a subscription TV revolution with flexible pricing, delivery and a "continued commitment to content", Foxtel believes this will "boost [the] appetite for brilliant TV".

Of course, you’re going to need the time to sit in front of a TV watching stuff while the rest of your real life streams by, but seeing as plenty of people already live life vicariously through the box, this isn’t going to be a problem for most.

What Foxtel has decided to do is to create a "revolutionary new approach to pricing and packaging for [its] IP delivered subscription TV service, Foxtel Play".

Foxtel says this move "is designed to increase consumer choice and to break down traditional barriers to taking up Foxtel’s services".

If this sounds a lot more like an à-la carte approach to you being able to choose just the channels you want, then yes, it looks like Foxtel is heading much more in that direction, while still offering some bundles of content at various price points.

Foxtel is an aggregator of content after all, it’s not going to go completely à-la carte just yet, otherwise you’d simply end up cutting out Foxtel altogether as you go straight to the content creators themselves.

That said, aggregating content and selling it in bundles more affordably than you could buy them individually is a business model that isn’t going to go away any time soon – it’s still successful, even though it is under attack.

In any case, Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh shared plans to "offer a new pricing model that features low cost entry points at prices that will be highly competitive with SVOD services, while still providing access to Foxtel’s superior content.’ Foxtel says its upcoming ‘new entry level pricing is set to launch in December and centres on a ‘bring your own device’ and ‘bring your own bandwidth’ model with IP delivered entertainment brought to connected devices, such as a smart TV or laptop".

So, what will Foxtel’s offering be?

Well, as part of the new IP offering, Foxtel says it will "create five different entry level tiers to match viewers’ interests including two options for drama plus one option for Lifestyle, one for Documentary and one for Kids. Beyond this, customers will also be able to take the Sports tier and the Movies tier".

We’re also told that "subscribers will have access to all linear channels in the tier along with all of the on-demand, catch up and library content available to that tier plus mobile access via Foxtel Go".

Tonagh said: “Foxtel has been at the forefront of providing unrivalled entertainment to customers for more than 20 years. Our new flexible pricing and delivery will mean that even more Australians will be able to design a subscription that works for them and once they experience what we have to offer, we’re confident they’ll be hungry for more.”

As part of its new delivery options, Foxtel also confirmed that it is "developing a new low cost ‘puck’ to access its IP delivered content. When it launches it will have a tremendous user interface with sophisticated search and recommendation functionality".

Whether the world truly needs yet another pucking puck is questionable, but if Foxtel wants to offer its own widget, once which presumably won’t also offer access to Netflix or other services, then it is its right to do so, and it will surely be very competitively priced, if not free, to Foxtel Play users.

With the new pricing, Foxtel says it is "now providing everything from a low-cost, low-commitment entry point, through to the premium, high end of the subscription TV spectrum via full service cable/satellite set top boxes".

In addition, to its new IP pricing, Foxtel also announced that it has "entered a new agreement with HBO that will give subscribers even more extensive access to HBO’s incredible library", which the company detailed in a separate media release (see story here).

Tonagh also announced that "in December Foxtel will launch a new kids app that will enable kids to have access to all of Foxtel’s great children’s content, wherever they are. By downloading the app parents will be sure that their children only have access to age appropriate programming".

OPINION

So, Foxtel is only getting cheaper. I remember one of its previous CEOs, the Harry Potter-esque Kim Williams, gravely raving on at previous Internet events about how Foxtel was going to conquer this and conquer that and etc blah-blah etc.

And here we are, years later, with Foxtel succumbing to the realities of the Internet and not the other way around.

Well, there you go Kim Williams. Real life always trumps fiction, no matter how much you might want to cast a magic spell otherwise!

The Internet won. And it keeps on winning.

What kind of business Foxtel is in 10 years remains to be seen, presumably still as an aggregator of content fighting it out against actual content owners who'd rather sell direct and not give any aggregator any kind of cut, but there's still power in aggregation and content rights as seen with Foxtel's just-announced deal with HBO

There's also still human ingenuity, with Foxtel set to use as much of it as it can to not just stay in business but thrive. 

The next decade in SVOD and IPTV services is going to be one heck of a must-see episodic TV series to watch in itself, and one which they'll probably make a TV show about in the future, too. 

I just hope you've got the time to watch it!

Foxtel Play


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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