Foxtel has announced a revamped high-definition video streaming service dubbed Foxtel Now - and it's priced competitively with Stan and Netflix. With subscriptions starting at just $10 per month, it's a far cry from the company's prohibitively expensive Pay TV offerings. (In fact, it's actually cheaper than Netflix's HD tiers which start at $11.99.)
But what do you actually get for your ten dollarydoos? Does Foxtel Now include Game Of Thrones? Do you still need to add a bunch of additional packs to make it worthwhile? We take a look at the prices, inclusions and your frequently asked questions.
Last night, Foxtel officially unveiled the Foxtel Now app, proving that the oldest streaming service on the block is capable of learning new tricks. With Chromecast support, HD content (finally!) and a promise of more original content to come, Foxtel's online packages are starting to look a lot more compelling. Here's everything you need to know about the revamped service.
What is Foxtel Now?
Foxtel Now is essentially the same streaming service as Foxtel Play under a different name. However, Foxtel is using the re-branding opportunity to usher in a host of new features. (More on this below.)
When is Foxtel Now available?
Foxtel Now will be available from today (7 June 2017.)
What happens to Foxtel Play?
Foxtel Now will replace the existing Foxtel Play streaming service. If you're an existing member, you will be rolled over to the new service automatically. (Note: This may require a software update depending on the platform you're using.)
What devices does Foxtel Now support?
Foxtel Now will work on your iPhone, Android, PC, games console and smart TV via dedicated apps for each platform. Currently, the app is only available on PC and Mac via the Google Chrome browser, Telstra TV, iOS and Android devices and Chromecast. Additional devices - including PlayStation 3 and 4, Xbox One and select Smart TVs - will be updated "in the coming months".
So, what's different?
As previously reported, the big changes are Chromecast support (so you can stream content from a mobile device to your big screen TV) and HD video on compatible displays. (Until now, Foxtel's streaming app has been standard-def only.)
Foxtel is also upping the number of devices that can be registered and streamed to at once. You can now register five devices and stream two of them simultaneously — up from the previous totals of three and one. This means you could potentially go halves with a mate and stream shows in separate houses at the same time.
How much HD content does Foxtel Now have?
According to Foxtel, approximately half of the 16,000 titles in its on demand library will be available in HD. More HD content will be added "all the time."
What resolution does Foxtel Now stream at?
Currently, Foxtel Now is only capable of streaming at 720p. This is sure to rankle videophiles, but most viewers probably won't notice the difference if they have a typical lounge room setup.
How much does Foxtel Now cost?
The big question. As with Foxtel Play, pricing starts at $10 per month. However, Foxtel is doggedly sticking to a package model which means you will likely need to pay more money depending on your viewing habits.
There are five entry-level packs to choose from. The Lifestyle, Docos and Kids packs are available for $10 per month each. Drama and Pop (which contains Game Of Thrones) are slightly pricier at $15 per month. There's also an option to subscribe to both Drama and Pop for $25 per month.
To get everything, you're looking at a total of $104 per month. For most people, that's just way too expensive. On the plus side, Game Of Thrones no longer requires the purchase of multiple packages: you can access it via the entry-level Pop pack for just $15 per month.
Can I try Foxtel Now for free?
Yep - there's a no obligations two-week free trial which you can sign up for here. The trial provides access to all packs. After the trial period, you will only be charged for the packs you have chosen. (Unless you cancel.)
So is it worth the money?
Foxtel is pitching itself as the premium provider of entertainment content for Australians. In practice, this means you get more, but also pay more.
If Foxtel can be believed, it had 98 of last year's 100 top-rated movies in its catalogue, whereas Stan and Netflix had 30 or less. Is that worth paying almost three times the price? I suppose it depends on how keen you are on new release movies.
And of course, Foxtel Now provides an impressive catalogue of live sports coverage that you won't find on Stan or Netflix. But again, you need to pay extra for this content - you're looking at a minimum total of $39 per month.
All in all, Foxtel's attempts to reinvent itself in the wake of affordable all-you-can-eat streaming isn't terrible. We would have liked to see the company move away from packs or at least simplify them (how much better would it be if you just chose TV & Movies or Sports, and got access to everything?) But we realise that's not going to happen any time soon.
As it stands, Foxtel Now is a worthy investment if there's stuff you like in one of the entry-level packs. When you combine two or more packs however, your bang-for-buck takes a sharp nosedive. Our pick? Plump for the $15 Pop pack, if only for Game Of Thrones.