Adam, Internode and iiNet have all recently dropped their FetchTV pricing, making the IPTV service more appealing than ever. Planhacker rounds up what's on offer.
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. FetchTV is available from a range of providers, which makes it more likely you can match it with a broadband plan that you want for other reasons.
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 (sometimes labelled under another name) 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 -- while the other providers include them all in one pack. (That makes Optus look more expensive here, as in practice you could also purchase individual channel packs and switch them on and off at will.)
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. 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 and iiNet both offer a no-contract option where you buy the box outright and pay a reduced monthly fee, though iiNet doesn't have that option for the lite package. Given the high set-top box price, you wouldn't want to sign up for just a single month (and in practice you may need to be on an ADSL contract anyway with the iiNet deals).
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 has now started quoting separate prices for its FetchTV bundles, making it easier to compare.
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
If you want to drill into the details for the specific providers, here are the links:
Lifehacker's weekly Planhacker column rounds up the best communication deals.