Telstra has tweaked its Mobile Foxtel TV-to-smartphone offering several times in recent years, but it remains something of a niche offering. The latest “relaunch” makes some tweaks to the service, but there’s still a nasty sting in the conditions which makes it essentially impossible to recommend.
The basics of Telstra Mobile Foxtel are this: it only works on Android and iOS smartphones that are on a Telstra account. For a monthly fee (on contract) or a weekly fee (on mobile), you gain access to a range of TV channels, mostly from Foxtel but with ABC1 and SBS1 thrown in. The channels are a mixture of live-to-air and cached content. A big part of the appeal is that watching those channels doesn’t count against your monthly data allowance.
Telstra’s blog post “relaunching” the service highlights two available deals: the Value pack (16 channels for $8 a month) and the Ultimate Pack (28 channels for $15 a month). We’ve since clarified that the Ultimate Pack+Sport for $20 a month also remains available. New subscribers get their first month free.
But whichever plan you choose, there’s a vicious clause in the terms and conditions which renders Mobile Foxtel really bad value. Your usage is restricted to 200 minutes a month, and you can’t watch any given channel for more than 30 minutes a day. On particularly busy days, Telstra reserves the right to cut off usage after 15 minutes.
That renders the service all but useless for watching during your commute, catching a sports match or even watching most dramas. While Telstra says you can roll over unused minutes from the 200-minute total, that’s essentially meaningless if you can’t watch more than 30 minutes in a day anyway.
I get that trying to offer unmetered access to video is an expensive proposition, but this kind of restriction isn’t a sensible way to solve that problem. Until the available viewing time improves, I can’t see Mobile Foxtel taking off.