Under siege from streaming services and competitor sports broadcasters, Foxtel has been forced to dramatically sharpen its pencil to lure customers to the pay television service.
In addition to the new six-year cricket deal to broadcast every ball of international cricket played in Australia, sports channels on Foxtel screen every AFL and NRL match live. It also has deals in place to broadcast the NBA, Formula One, the UEFA Champions League, top tennis and golf tournaments and a host of other football competitions.
And even though Fox Sports lost the rights to the popular English Premier League to Optus and SBS, it still represents an attractive proposition for sports fans.
A high price-point and long-term fixed contracts, however, have previously put off potential subscribers – something Foxtel hopes is addressed by its new ‘Foxtel Now’ subscription.
You can watch all of Foxtel’s sport channels for as little as $39 per month with Foxtel Now, but it is important to stress it is a digital subscription.
It can be viewed on smartphones, tablets and computers and streamed to televisions through a Foxtel Now box, which has Chromecast built in, Apple TV, Telstra TV, a Playstation 4 and other devices.
Instead of the traditional method of Foxtel, through an installed set-top box, Foxtel Now runs through the internet – like a subscription to Netflix or Stan would.
What is the picture quality like?
Because it depends on the speed of your internet, it can vary.
The New Daily has paid for Foxtel Now and road-tested the product, experiencing very minor lag on some occasions watching live sport.
It was only just noticeable but the picture quality was not as clear as it would have been if watching Foxtel through a set-top box.
If you can live with that, though, the deal appears attractive to sports fans, particularly those who travel a lot, do not have access to a TV, or do not wish to be locked into a contract.
And with Foxtel Now, you can register up to five different devices and watch on two at the same time.
What does Foxtel say?
Unsurprisingly, Foxtel says there has never been a better time to sign up.
“Our strategy is to constantly improve and increase our offering for subscribers,” a spokesperson said.
“As an example of this commitment, starting this summer for sports subscribers, every ball of every over of cricket shown on television in Australia will be on Fox Sports.”
‘Foxtel has caught up’
Professor Brett Hutchins, an expert in sports media at Melbourne’s Monash University, said Foxtel are “about five to 10 years late” on the streaming front.
He described the $39-per-month deal as “reasonably good” for keen sports fans but said it was comparatively expensive to other streaming services.
“Foxtel has caught up to this way of consuming TV content,” he told The New Daily.
“Compared to free-to-air television, no [this isn’t a good deal]. And compared to the monthly price of Stan, Netflix or Amazon Prime, it’s quite expensive really.
“But if you watch a lot of sport, compared to Foxtel’s standard package then it is a reasonably good deal.
“You’re also paying for your internet, though. You’ve still got to pay for a service to access them.”
Hutchins expects more and more sport to “disappear behind the paywall” after the example set by the cricket deal.
“Unless anti-siphoning legislation is updated … then yes, you will probably see more sport disappear,” he said.
What if I’m an existing Foxtel subscriber?
The New Daily understands that existing subscribers who contact Foxtel quoting cheap deals or new promotions may be eligible for a significant discount.
And if you have been a long-time subscriber, your chances of saving money could be even higher.
Foxtel’s current sports promotion is the network’s sports coverage, plus an entertainment pack for “$55 per month with no subscription charge for the first two months on a six-month plan”.