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Foxtel to offer pay-as-you-go online TV service

Australian pay-TV operator Foxtel has unveiled a new over-the-top (OTT) TV service called ‘Foxtel Play’, which promises no lock-in contracts and access across a range of devices when it launches in June.

At launch, the service will offer over 40 channels and more than 2,000 video-on-demand titles, including programming from some of the country’s most popular channel brands across movies and premium drama, documentaries, entertainment, kids and live sports.

Customers will be able to build their own genre-based channels packages starting from AUD 25 (US$ 25) per month, and access the service on PCs, Macs, games consoles, connected TVs, smartphones and tablets.

Unveiling the service at the ASTRA conference in Sydney earlier today (March 14th), Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein affirmed that Foxtel TV is intended for customers wishing to access Foxtel TV services at flexible price points.

“Foxtel Play is the next step in the evolution of our entertainment offering,” said Freudenstein. “Our core subscription service, which remains the cornerstone of our business, has recently been augmented by a greatly enlarged On Demand offering and, of course, Foxtel Go, both included for residential subscribers.

“Foxtel Play develops our ‘off the box’ internet TV products by expanding on the existing Foxtel on Xbox 360 and Foxtel on Internet TV services to provide one Foxtel internet TV offering across multiple devices.

“This is a perfect new way for those people who have not yet experienced Foxtel to enjoy our popular content at flexible price points offering value to suit varying budgets and needs. Foxtel Play combines the ease and portability of internet connectivity with fantastic entertainment to welcome a whole new set of customers to Foxtel.”

Foxtel also indicates that the service will be available on 3G/4G mobile networks as well as WiFi and fixed broadband networks – more details will be announced closer to the time of launch.

Foxtel is easily the largest pay-TV provider in Australia with more than twice the number of subscribers of its erstwhile rival Austar, reaching 1.66mn by the end of 2011.

The company completed its merger with rival Austar in May 2012, and has started to expand its reach beyond established cable and satellite platforms to IP-connected devices, delivering premium packages to Samsung’s smart TVs (details here), Telstra’s T-Box and the Xbox 360.

The current analysis from Informa Telecoms & Media (publisher of IP&TV News) is that Foxtel will remain the dominant pay-TV force in Australia in the short-to medium-term but will thereafter become somewhat vulnerable to low-cost alternatives.

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