When the news of changes to Foxtel’s streaming service started to flow through, one had to be skeptical – what were they cutting, what was changing, how radical would this “new look” Foxtel be? Well – I’ve given it a test, and it’s going to reshape the company – for the better.
Changing your logo won’t change customer perception, it doesn’t improve the quality of the product nor does it offer additional capabilities. In fact, what Foxtel has done is so incremental it needed a new logo to make its point. Without this enormous re-brand, I’m not sure we’d be even considering looking at the all-new Foxtel internet service.
Foxtel Now replaces Foxtel Play. The “OTT” (Over the Top) streaming service which bypasses all of Foxtel’s traditional delivery mechanisms like cable and satellite, and relies on the internet to do its thing.
What’s not changed:
Well, in fact the pricing hasn’t changed. You can still get access for as little as $10 a month. More on that later, but in essence the difference between Foxtel Play and Foxtel Now is very very small.
The App still looks the same (the Foxtel Now interface is almost identical to Foxtel Go), and you still need to choose a base package before adding sport or Movies, and the types of packages aren’t very different.
Apart from the dropping of some 19 channels, as we reported before the change – there are really two big changes.
Firstly, High Definition. On Demand content will be available in up to 1080 quality – depending on the source material that Foxtel get of course. Sadly, Live streams are only just HD – at 720. This is disappointing, but, it’s still a million miles better than the rubbish quality that was there before.
Secondly, Casting. Using a Google Chromecast device, or compatible TV, you can now watch the streamed Foxtel channels up on your big-screen.
Just two things – that make all the difference.
Perhaps it’s just me here, but this is the future of Foxtel. Sign-up online, download an app and you’re running. Plus, watch it on your big-screen.
Foxtel Play lacked this capability and that meant it was restricted to your little phone or tablet, or a Smart TV or Games console app which – if I’m to believe the comments, are not very good.
There’s no high up front cost, no installation, no need for a technician to visit your home, no space required for the IQ box. It’s ridiculously simple – and it goes with you, room to room, and place to place.
I’m in the lucky 30% of Aussies who have Foxtel. And part of the lets guess say – 70% of them that have the HD pack. So when I watch live sport, man o man, it looks great.
I’ve said many many times that Foxtel HD is the best example of High Definition broadcasting you can get, and if you’ve got a 65 inch or bigger flat screen spanking new TV – it’s the only way to go.
Foxtel Now is not that good. Not by a long shot. But damn, it’s pretty good.
On your phone or tablet – wowsers, a winner. On your big-screen, it’s almost as good as free-to-air network’s HD (which is often not “quite” a true 1080 and is compressed for broadcast).
Granted, photos don’t do it justice, but I flicked between the Foxtel Now stream via Chromecast and my Foxtel HD on a 100+ inch projected screen. Yep, the artefacts around the logos and images are more apparent but sitting back, forgetting what I was doing, I lost track. I didn’t really mind it at all.
A true videophile will hate it, but the average viewer will rejoice at the sight of live sport and quality TV streamed onto their TV.
One issue: Delay – around 30 seconds. So be ready for that if you’re watching live sport with mates online via social media.
With a simple Google Chromecast (Generation 1) plugged into my projector, and then tested in the bedroom and dining room TVs, I watched a full F1 Grand Prix, some Rugby League and the Le Mans 24 hour via Foxtel Now.
Up on the screen, I’d forget where it was coming from.
Taking Foxtel into new rooms without a new Multi-room cost and new box, a game changer. It worked without fault, and for those that don’t know, your phone doesn’t need to stay in the room. The Chromecast device “takes over” the stream, but you can still control it if you like from your device, switching channels, pausing etc.
Who is it for?
There’s no doubt that anyone who rings Foxtel now looking to cancel their service to save money will be educated in the benefits of Foxtel Now. For me, this would take my cost from $65 down to $39. No Contract required.
And while Foxtel may see some churn in customers from the traditional to the new platform, it’ won’t kill their business. There’s plenty of people that love setting their IQ to record and are a long way off learning the beauty of Catch Up yet.
Those who have wanted Foxtel for some time, but can’t afford it, or don’t have cable or satellite, this is an immediate win. No brainer, done.
And for those looking for something specific, be it Game of Thrones or the Rugby League – this is now just a no-brainer on your smart device.
Honestly, I was shocked at how good it was, how big the difference in my perception and usage of the product was with just the increase in quality and addition of Chromecast would be. Foxtel Now is a genuine player in the streaming market. But they are not a competitor to Netflix and Stan, these services all live side by side with a very small market cannibalisation.
Don’t bag it until you try it folks, this is a great streaming option.
Foxtel is here to stay. Sports rights underpin a large part of the business model and that’s not going anywhere, in fact they will be making more – much more because this opens new markets.
Long term Foxtel will at some point stop their Cable and Satellite deployment, saving millions in Satellite delivery costs, and putting that into the chunky costs of bandwidth.
One user rates grow, and streaming costs come down, expect that quality to increase to 1080 at some point, and perhaps even 4K when the time is right.