The most surprising aspect of yesterday's Foxtel download service announcement was that Foxtel hadn't stitched up a deal with BigPond (or another ISP) to offer cap-free downloads. It turns out that Foxtel has a simpler strategy in mind: begging ISPs not to do it.
Any download-based service in Australia has to grapple with the challenge of convincing users to give up part of their precious monthly download allocation to grab TV shows and movies. The most successful local examples tend to achieve that by partnering with an ISP to offer cap-free (unmetered) downloads, a strategy used by multiple ISPs with the ABC's iView service, by iiNet with iTunes and by BigPond with its eponymous movies and music services.
Foxtel, however, hasn't taken that approach yet. Instead, as Geoff Elliot at the Australian reports, CEO Kim Williams is hoping that ISPs can be convinced to not include those charges without the hassle of formal negotiations (or, as the Oz puts it, "hoping pressure will mount on the telcos").
Foxtel might have some technical grounds for that approach:
Mr Williams told The Australian that Foxtel's movie download service would operate from discrete servers located in Australia. That is expected to give Foxtel a firm hand in discussions on the download-cap issue, since the data-carriage cost is marginal for the telcos.
Not sourcing content from overseas does eliminate one of the main reasons for download caps: the relatively high cost of accessing data from offshore, rather than just sending it around Australian networks. However, as the ABC's experience demonstrates, there's still a good deal of negotiation and discussion required before a cap-free service can be offered even with locally hosted content. Furthermore, even when one is in place, glitches can occur, and complaints are likely to be louder when that happens given that Foxtel is a subscription service, unlike the ABC.
Are you going to hold back on Foxtel downloads until a deal is in place, or does the existence of YouTube, iView and Channel BT mean that the whole scenario is irrelevant anyway? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Foxtel tackles telcos on movies: download limits [The Australian]