On the day that Sony's newFoxtel and Microsoft have announced a partnership to make Foxtel available via Xbox Live.
The service, scheduled to launch in Q4 this year, offers a way to access Foxtel content online, without the expense of a Foxtel installation and set-top box. This is particularly suited to people who move frequently or who live in areas of Australia where Foxtel services are not available, according to Kim Williams, Foxtel chief executive and managing director.
Foxtel by Xbox Live will live stream over 30 channels including Fox Sports, Discovery, Nickelodeon, Disney, Sky News and MTV. A range of Video-on-Demand and catch-up services, including television and movies, will also be included, although specific packaging and pricing announcements will not be made until closer to the end-of-year launch.
What you will need to access the new subscription service is an Xbox 360 and an Xbox Gold subscription, which currently costs AU$8 per month. For households wanting multi-room access to Foxtel, this works out cheaper than the AU$15 per month fee currently charged by the company for additional Foxtel set-top boxes.
The service also requires a high-speed broadband connection with generous download limits. While Telstra's stake in Foxtel was not mentioned at today's briefing, Williams did say that discussions with several ISPs were underway to exempt Foxtel by Xbox Live from metered content. While high-definition content could theoretically be offered, bandwidth caps and connection speeds mean that it's likely SD video will be the mainstay of the service.
Features available to Xbox Live gamers, such as online chat, are also open to Foxtel by Xbox Live subscribers, meaning you could simultaneously watch a footy match with someone using the service in another city and voice chat through connected headsets during the broadcast.
Microsoft has previously launched two similar content partnerships in Europe, with BSkyB in the UK and Canal+ in France. No such service yet exists in the US.