Update: Foxtel has expanded its lineup for Foxtel Play, updating the channels offered in each package and adding new shows to the Boxsets channel, so we've updated our review.
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, Sony, and LG Smart TVs, the Xbox 360, the PS3 - and most recently the PS4 and Xbox One - 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 via 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, Lifestyle Food, Lifestyle Home, MTV, Comedy, Style, E! and TV Hits; Drama, which includes BBC UKTV, FX, SoHo, Universal Channel, SyFy, BBC First and 13th Street; Documentaries, which includes National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo People, Discovery, BBC Knowledge, Discovery Turbo, History, A&E, Crime Investigation Australia, Bio and Foxtel Arts; and Kids, which includes Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, CBeebies, Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Discovery Kids 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, 3, 4 and 5, ESPN1, ESPN2, EuroSport and Footy Play; and Premium Movies and Drama, which includes the Premiere, Action, Thriller, Comedy, Family, Disney, Masterpiece, Romance and World movie channels.
Premium Movies and Drama pack also comes with the Boxsets channel, which means you can binge watch every episode of shows like True Detective, The Sopranos, Entourage, The Wire, Deadwood and Australian piracy's poster show, Game of Thrones.
Each of the premium packages will set you back $20 a month for Premium Movies and Drama, or $25 a month for Sports, 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 Weather, Sky Business, Fox Sports News, CMC, Max, EuroSport News, TVSN, Channel V and V Hits channels.
The full Foxtel service has had a price restructure, with the base plan starting at just $25 these days, but scaling up to $120 a month for a complete channel line up. So Foxtel Play is slightly cheaper, and you'll need a satellite and a 12 month contract to get the full service. On the upside, a full service subscription also gets you a Foxtel iQ3 set top box.
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.