Foxtel is attempting to win back dissatisfied Australian customers with its own streaming service, Foxtel Anytime.
Anytime, which first launched in 2010, allows subscribers to stream shows at their own pace, with the latest episodes of Game of Thrones and The Real Housewives of NYC on the list for April.
But a few new series and a bundle of old content like Everybody Loves Raymond may not be enough to combat the service’s ailing reputation compared with streaming competitors.
A new survey conducted by Canstar Blue found the News Corp-owned broadcaster lags behind both Netflix and the Channel Nine and Fairfax-owned Stan in customer satisfaction. Ratings-wise, the pay TV company relies on sport for its numbers.
Sport content often makes up its top ten shows for the evening.
So how does Anytime differ from Foxtel’s usual service and from its competitors?
Currently, Foxtel customers have to differentiate between various IQ systems, Foxtel On Demand, Box Office and Foxtel Go, but according to Foxtel’s Mikaela Robertson, the most significant difference with Anytime lies in internet connection.
Customers with an ethernet cable connected to their Foxtel box also have access to Anytime and “literally thousands of shows on demand”, while those without Internet can only access around 20 new release movies via On Demand.
Too little, too late?
The service is an obvious attempt to compete with Netflix, Presto and Stan, all of which offer an on-demand content library regularly updated with exclusive shows and movies each month.
Foxtel’s Anytime is a step in the right direction but might be too little, too late in the face of a company like Netflix, which wins over viewers with its ability to drop entire seasons of its own wildly popular original series (including Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards and Narcos) at once.
However, recent efforts indicate Foxtel is doing its very best to keep up. It will air the entire season four of Orange Is the New Black back-to-back on its Showcase channel on June 17 – the same day as Netflix, with which it shares Australian rights – and as each episode finishes it will appear on Anytime for streaming.
It will also make episodes of the highly-anticipated sixth season of Game of Thrones available on Anytime after they screen in the US.
Foxtel’s fatal flaw
But despite the obvious appeal of Anytime for internet-connected Foxtel subscribers, the option to stream won’t fix the broadcaster’s bigger problems.
According to the Canstar survey, Foxtel is letting customers down in two crucial areas: ease of setup (exemplified by the rigmarole of various options and installations) and value for money.
Television expert Steve Molk of DeciderTV said Foxtel faced the problem of a market in which rights are expensive and consumers are unwilling to pay a premium for quality content.
“Foxtel has a very strong library with a number of exclusive titles that make it very competitive, except maybe in price,” he told The New Daily.
Mr Molk said that while Anytime isn’t a groundbreaking service, it’s a “great selling point” for Foxtel customers who forget to record their favourite shows – but the issue of price is not going to go away.
“It’s the price that kills Foxtel. Even with their internet-only service it’s prohibitively expensive for people to dive into compared to Netflix and Stan,” he said.
“There’s obviously a dollar-value issue at play – you can’t have all the good gear when it’s expensive to licence exclusively and then charge cheap rates to access it.”