When the download service rolls out this Thursday as part of Foxtel’s “Next Generation” platform, there’ll be 400 hours of programming from across 38 channels available for download by existing Foxtel customers without any additional fees. (The system uses your customer number and set-top box smart card number for logging in.) 100 additional hours of programming will be added each week; there’ll typically be 600 hours available at any given time. Downloads can only be played back using a custom Foxtel player which is Windows-only, and will expire after seven days.
While Foxtel isn’t charging for the downloads, your ISP will include them in your download totals, which could make for an expensive exercise on low-value broadband plans. Cap-free downloads have been a key selling point for iView, the ABC’s catch-up service. Whether Foxtel can attract users without a similar bundle — or whether it will soon run into controversies over unexpectedly high family Internet bills — remains to be seen.
Here’s the other key details from today’s Foxtel Next Generation launch:
- From Thursday October 1, all Foxtel ‘value bundles’ will come with the iQ or iQ2 disk drive recorder, rather than a basic set-top box. (The cheapest value bundle is $72 a month, which is still a fair bit more than the cheapest basic package. The priciest platinum package is now $135 a month.)
- An expanded range of channels, including 15 HD channels, will become available on November 15, when new satellite services are fully commissioned.
- On November 15, existing iQ boxes will receive a firmware upgrade and a redesigned EPG, which also adds the ability to customise the electronic program guide to cover 50 of your favourite channels. A new iSuggest system will recommend up to 200 programs of interest each week.
- A new record me button will appear in most promos; hitting the record me button on your remote will automatically add that to your iQ recording schedule.