Foxtel has launched a “revamped” streaming service, promising subscribers “a new look and feel and more freedom” but offering very little in the way of concrete change.
Foxtel Now, which launched on Wednesday, is the new iteration of Foxtel Play, the pay TV giant’s internet-delivered subscription TV service – but retains its original pricing structure.
It has a fresh “feminine” logo and a fancy promo ad, but aside from aesthetics, changes are limited, with media analyst Peter Cox calling the overhaul “an attempt to buy time”.
“This is a desperate move by management to try and save their own jobs,” Mr Cox said.
“Their subscribers are falling, they had Presto – that failed and had to be shut down – Foxtel Play wasn’t working, so they’ve re-branded it [and] there seems to be very little difference in the product.”
Watch the promo for Foxtel Now
Key features of the “re-energised” service include an updated interface, HD streaming on select devices, Google Chromecast capabilities, no set-up costs and the ability to cancel anytime.
However, the pricing remains the same as Foxtel Play, with content “packages” starting at $10 a month.
If you want the sport or movie packages ($29 or $20 a month respectively), you’ll have to get a starter pack, bringing the total cost to at least $30 a month.
The Drama pack promises HBO content, most notably Game of Thrones, for $15 a month.
Compared with the monthly rates of Netflix ($14.99 at most), Stan ($10) and Amazon Prime Video ($US5.99), all of which provide a full library of content, Foxtel Now’s prices seem exorbitant.
#FoxtelNow consists of 5 packs ranging from $10-$15 per. Exclusive content aside, where's the competition with Netflix at that price point?
— Brad L (@BradleyLeach) June 6, 2017
Content – which includes Sky News and Fox News – is available to stream live and on demand, and users can register up to five devices and play on two simultaneously. Foxtel claims there are more than 16,000 titles in its on-demand library.
Other complaints include that Foxtel’s definition of “high definition” is 720p, while other services, like Netflix, offer higher resolutions of 1080p or even 4K, which is ultra HD.
The concept of defined “packages”, rather than the full buffet of content, has also been criticised as outdated and limiting.
Foxtel is offering free two-week trials of the service and has also flagged the release of its own ‘puck’ streaming box to challenge the AppleTV later this year – but Mr Cox says it’s all “too little, too late”.
“This is what should have been done three years ago,” he said.
“In 2014 when they knew Netflix was coming into the market, that was the time to do it.”