Maybe we should start with the big news. Foxtel, Australia's premier pay TV provider, has today announced a complete rebrand and the launch of a new streaming service, Foxtel Now. It's the poster child of Foxtel's rebranding (see it in all its lowercase glory), an effort CEO Peter Tonagh is calling "the biggest strategic shift in the 22-year history of Foxtel."
But the really important bit is that "Game of Thrones" is back in a few weeks, and you'll be able to watch the new season as part of the entry-level Foxtel Now Pop package for AU$15 a month -- cheaper than last year's "I'm just here for the Thrones" deal. It's no secret that everyone's favourite softcore porn with dragons has made television history, and it's emblematic of what Foxtel wants to remind you of: That it has better content than Netflix.
With viewing habits (and viewers) shifting to relative newcomers like Netflix and Stan, Foxtel is aiming to compete for the lower-priced end of the subscription market with the 16,000-odd titles on offer on Foxtel Now. Tonagh points to that segment of people who jumped on Netflix and Stan because it hit a price point that wasn't there before. Enter Foxtel Now.
The fairly self-explanatory Foxtel Now starter packages are Lifestyle, Docos and Kids (AU$10 each) and Pop and Drama (AU$15 each). The Pop and Drama packages both give you the Showcase channel, where Foxtel screens most of its HBO content, including "Game of Thrones." From there, you can pick and choose add-ons, with the full set running you about AU$100 a month.
Each offering draws the relevant titles from Foxtel's existing linear channel lineup and there's no lock-in, but Foxtel doesn't see Now as a complete package kind of service. It's more of a pick and choose.
And here are your choices (all prices in AU$):
- Lifestyle ($10)
- Docos ($10)
- Kids ($10)
- Pop ($15)
- Drama ($15)
Premium Packs (add on to one or more Starter packs)
- Movies ($20)
- Sport ($29)
Extra Channels (add on to Starter packs, free with Sport pack)
- Chelsea TV ($5)
- LFCTV [Liverpool Football Club] ($5)
- MUTV [Manchester United] ($5)
On top of the typical video-on-demand style library, you'll also be able to watch most of each package's relevant linear channels, albeit without the pause, rewind and record offered by the iQ3 set-top box. But that linear broadcast is especially important for the Sports package, which will still include live games and matches.
The new service will have apps on all the usual suspects: PC, Mac and compatible iOS and Android devices, with additional devices (such as consoles and smart TVs) getting the app in the coming months. Addressing one of the major pain points of Foxtel Play, Now will be available on five registered devices with two simultaneous streams, and an unlimited number of registered device swaps.
For those of you still dedicated to having something you can plug into a TV, Foxtel Now will also be available on a puck device. Built on Android tvOS and containing a built-in Chromecast Ultra, the puck will cost about AU$100 when it comes out later this year.
Foxtel Now will be available from June 7, eventually replacing Foxtel Play and Foxtel Go.
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