The long-in-the-making merger of pay TV providers FOXTEL and AUSTAR finally became official this week after being approved in April. What difference does that make for existing customers? The short answer: aside from a few extra free channels, not much.
The FOXTEL site has a full FAQ on the changes, but the reality is that most customers aren't going to notice. There are no planned changes to billing procedures right now, so whatever plan you are on now isn't going to see a sudden rise (or fall) or price. Among the small changes you might notice from July 1, when the two companies effectively become one:
- W and TCM will be moved into the Get Started package, meaning all FOXTEL customers will have access to them. (Previously, these were part of the Drama & Lifestyle and Showtime Movies/Movie Network channel packages.)
- Two news channels — CCTV and Al Jazeera — will be added to the FOXTEL Get Started package. (AUSTAR customers already had these channels.)
- Eurosportnews will be added to the AUSTAR Starter pack.
- MTV and MTV Live will be added to the AUSTAR Fun Pack.
- AUSTAR HD will add Discovery Channel, MTV Live, National Geographic and Nat Geo Wild, plus the Foxtel 3D channel.
- From July 1, AUSTAR's contact number will change from 132 432 to 131 999 (the main FOXTEL number).
In the very long-term, I'd expect FOXTEL to standardise on a single offering, but that's likely to be years away. Customers who are in an AUSTAR area but would like to get FOXTEL on Xbox 360 will also be waiting for a while before that becomes possible.