NOTE: This Planhacker guide has been superseded. Click here for the most recent version. Optus yesterday became the sixth major ISP to offer FetchTV as part of its bundles. But which one offers the best deal? Planhacker investigates.
Obviously, going with FetchTV isn't the only way to score an IP-based TV service. Telstra has a similar option through the T-Box, and TPG has its own IPTV service. But FetchTV is easily the dominant option, especially now that Optus has begun selling it.So it seems appropriate to compare what's on offer from the different ISPs that offer it.
No matter which provider you choose, the basic arrangement for FetchTV will be the same: you pay a fixed monthly fee which gives you a PVR which you can use to schedule and record TV, and download movies which you pay for on a per-viewing basis. The basic ("lite") option only covers standard free-to-air channels; the full option also includes a bunch of extra channels, and a rotating selection of free-to-view movies. Optus sells the extra in three separate bundles — kids, documentary and music, which you can add or subtract on a month-by-month basis — while the other providers include them all in one pack. On full plans, you can pay additional fees for extra content such as sports channels or language-specific packs. The channels are delivered via your internet connection, but the data used won't be counted against your monthly cap.
In the table below, we've listed what each provider charges per month and any setup fees, and calculated a minimum cost of ownership from that. (The Optus "full" pricing assumes you purchase all three channel bundles across the contract.) You can click on the column headers to filter or sort results.
As you can see in the table, there's not a massive amount of variation in what's on offer. Internode is the only provider to offer a no-contract option, though given the high set-top box price, you wouldn't want to sign up for just a single month. iiNet owns Westnet and Netspace and the pricing is identical, but we've included all of them for completeness. As we've already mentioned, Optus is the only provider which splits the additional channels into bundles. Adam doesn't quote a separate price for FetchTV — you have to purchase it as part of a specific "entertainment bundle" — so while the price quoted here looks much higher, it includes your Internet access and phone line as well.
Since every provider requires you to be a customer to use the service, in practice you're unlikely to choose based on FetchTV prices alone, so you need to look at what other features are on offer, and assess the TV offering as part of the overall deal. Optus, for instance, waives the $9.95 a month fee if you sign up for its $109 Fusion bundle (which covers broadband and home telephony), while iiNet and Internode both have generous unmetered options for other kinds of content. As we've already noted, Adam only offers FetchTV as part of a larger bundle.
If you want to drill into the details for the specific providers, here are the links. (At this writing, Optus hasn't placed details on its site; we'll update when it does.)
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