It seems like an age since the TV through the internet craze took Australia by storm. While ABC iView and SBS On Demand are practically everywhere these days and the free-to-air networks are struggling to decide exactly what the internet is to them, Foxtel has been plugging along quietly with online video.
Initially, it was simply Foxtel on Xbox, which then made its way to Telstra's T-Box and Samsung TVs. Foxtel Go arrived later, letting Foxtel subscribers get their entertainment on phones and tablets on the go.
But Foxtel Play is all of those services wrapped up in one. It's the first comprehensive Pay TV offering delivered through the internet in Australia.
Available as an app for Windows PCs, Macs, Samsung Smart TVs and the Xbox 360 Foxtel Play is the sum of all Foxtel's previous IPTV parts, offering comprehensive channel selection through a wide variety of devices.
Packages and pricing
Foxtel Play follows the company's more traditional payment and packaging options. You pay a base rate for the most basic package, with the option to add additional channel packages for a fee.
But unlike the standard Foxtel subscription, Foxtel Play doesn't have a lock in subscription fee or installation costs. Because all the content is delivered vis your internet connection, there's no need for a technician to connect cable from the street or a satellite dish to your roof.
Foxtel Play is also cheaper than the cable or satellite based subscription, although not by as much as you might expect given there's no set top box or PVR like the Foxtel iQ included in the price.
The basic pricing starts at $25 a month, and is offered in four different package configurations. There's entertainment, which includes Fox8, Lifestyle, Arena, Lifestyle You, MTV, Comedy and TV1; Drama, which includes BBC UKTV, FX, SoHo, Universal Channel and SyFy; Documentaries, which includes National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Adventure, Discovery, BBC Knowledge, Turbo Max, History and A&E; and Kids, which includes Disney, Disney Junior, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Boomerang and BabyTV.
You can throw multiple packages together as well, with Foxtel charging $35 for two packages, $45 for three and $50 for all four every month.
In addition, there are two premium packages on offer. Sports, which includes Fox Sports 1,2 and 3, FuelTV, EuroSport, ESPN1, ESPN2, Speed and Footy Play; and Movies and Premium Drama, which includes Showcase, World Movies, plus the Premiere, Masterpiece, Comedy, Action/Adventure, Drama/Romance, Thriller/Crime and Family movie channels.
Each of the premium packages will set you back $25 a pop, meaning a complete Play subscription will cost $100 a month.
No matter which package you sign up for, you also get access to Foxtel Go, allowing you watch on your tablet or phone, as well as access to the Sky News, Sky Business, Fox Sports News, V and V Hits channels.
Compared to the starting price of $47 a month for a regular Foxtel subscription, Play does seem like a much cheaper option. But when you scale up to the Platinum option, which costs $122 a month for 86 channels and an iQHD box, the savings are somewhat reduced.
There's also a few caveats about channels though. For some weird reason, certain channels aren't available on certain platforms. For example, TV1 and SyFy aren't available to watch on PC/Mac, while World Movies isn't available to view via Xbox 360.
Still, the advantage of not having to sign up for 24 months, as well as the benefit of being able to watch on multiple devices is alluring.