Telstra is this week to launch a ‘Foxtel-light’ service through its T-Box customers which the telco hopes will accelerate the momentum of the IPTV and on-demand content markets in Australia.
According to Telstra’s director of IPVT, Ben Kinealy, the basic Foxtel service will be priced at $19.50 per month with an optional sports package available for an additional $10, a movie package for $15, a Showtime package for $15 and an entertainment package for $15.
The new service will be pushed out and made available to cable-based T-Box customers this week with ADSL-based customers to follow in the next two months.
“It will just turn up on your [T-Box],” Kinealy told Computerworld Australia “If you have a cable service and a T-Box it will launch and you will see the [Foxtel] channels, see promotional information about those channels, see the video-on-demand for those channels, and all you have to do is go online, type in a couple of things and within minutes you are watching Foxtel channels. There is not calling the contact centre or waiting for anything to be delivered.”
Kinealy said the new service — in negotiations between Telstra and Foxtel for a number of months — was not meant to be a substitution for full Foxtel nor would it cannibalise its existing customer base.
“The service will be a very simple upgrade path via the [Telstra] website,” he said. “[The service] will be a subset of channels — 30 linear channels with another 12 video-on-demand channels. It will be a Foxtel-light environment; it is not meant to be the full blown experience.
“What we realise is that Foxtel is in 30 per cent of homes in Australia and we need to find a way to help get to that other 70 per cent. As a telco we obviously want to sell our telephony and bandwidth to everyone, where possible, in Australia, so we came up with this IPTV proposition knowing that it was coming anyway.”
The new service would likely appeal to customers of its on-demand video service wanting additional content as well as former Foxtel customers who may be lured back by the pricing and options of the new package, Kinealy said.
Where younger customers might be drawn to Foxtel’s availability via the Xbox 360 gaming console, Foxtel via the T-Box would appeal more to Telstra’s traditional ‘mum and dad’ customer base.
“The Xbox is a fantastic gaming console and is trying to do a lot more now, but we think that while that is a pretty good experience what we’re taking to market is even better,” he said.
“Our box is all about TV And video, not about gaming. It’s a PVR and video service and now that it has Foxtel-lite all integrated. It’s not the case of launching another application; its embedded in the experience.”
The new service follows a period of strong uptake in Telstra's on-demand video service, which the telco has sought to position as an alternative to bricks and mortar video stores,
According to Kinealy some 1.5 million movies had been purchased and downloaded via Telstra’s T-Box alone since the device was launched in July 2010. The latest reported figures for the number of T-Boxes sold was 120,000 as at February 2011.
“That number is impressive and it shows this is a real business,” he said.
The company this week also signed 20th Century Fox as a content supplier in a move which will help grow its movie database to some 2500 titles by years' end.