In one of its first moves under the new ownership of TPG, internet service provider iiNet has stopped selling Fetch TV, pulling the hardware and content service from its website.
iiNet has posted a notice on its website, informing customers that Fetch TV is no longer available for purchase through the ISP, though customers who have paid for 'iiNet TV with Fetch' can still access the service.
The news comes at a time of significant competition and consolidation in the local content streaming market, as smaller players such as EzyFlix bow out and new services such as Netflix, Stan and Presto offer Australians a swathe of content requiring nothing more than an internet connection and a monthly fee.
Launched into the market in 2010, Fetch TV allows users to pause, rewind and record live TV, piggy-backing off the electronic program guide on free-to-air TV to show 7 days of programming and allow recording of full TV series. Catch-up TV apps are baked into the interface, and it also supports subscription services such as Netflix, with the option to buy one-off TV shows and movies.
Alongside the out-of-the-box features, one of the major selling points of Fetch has always been its premium entertainment offering, which allows users to pay AU$15 a month to get 30 free movies per month and access to 39 additional Pay TV channels such as Disney, Nickelodeon, ESPN and MTV.
But while the content offering is impressive compared to traditional free-to-air, Fetch has always rested in a strange place within the local market. More than a straight PVR but not the full service offering of Foxtel, Fetch TV was predominantly marketed as through ISPs as a content add-on to "Make TV Better." The set-top box could also be bought off the shelf at retail stores for AU$399.
While the loss of iiNet as a dedicated reseller is a blow for Fetch, the company still lists Optus (Australia's third largest home broadband provider) and smaller providers Dodo and SlimTel as resellers on its website. Fetch TV CEO Scott Lorson told CNET that in the last year, these three ISPs (alongside retail sales) have accounted for 95 per cent of growth in customer numbers, with Optus the "star performer."
"Fetch has tremendous momentum," said Lorson. "This outcome will have little impact on our current growth rates, but we do look forward to engaging with the new owners [of iiNet] in due course."
Since coming into the TPG fold through an acquisition deal, iiNet is now part of the second biggest ISP group in Australia behind Telstra, so while iiNet may not have accounted for much over the past year, Fetch has lost access to a significant customer pool.
For its part, Telstra has its own set-top offering to spruik. After originally marketing the T-Box as the all-in-one content solution for Australian families, Telstra recently announced a partnership with US company Roku to launch a major competitor to Fetch: the Telstra TV set-top box.
Fetch TV is still available through Optus, Dodo and SlimTel, and stores in the Harvey Norman group, including Domayne, Joyce Mayne and Harvey Norman stores.
CNET contacted iiNet about the decision, however the company declined to comment.