Foxtel Play review

The TV through the internet phenomenon continues

Foxtel Play
Is the Foxtel experience delivered online worth the money?

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It's clear that Foxtel has put a lot of thought into creating a proper Pay TV service for the internet with Play. It's sleek, easy enough for anyone to use, and comprehensive in its offering.

But, it is still Foxtel. If you've given up paying big bucks for television because of the hours and hours of rubbish programming between one or two decent shows, this isn't for you. It's still the same old content Foxtel churns out day in and day out on its broadcast channel, only delivered through the internet.

But it's impossible to doubt the benefit of moving to an IP based system. No longer is your television locked to your home. You can take your Foxtel subscription with you on holiday, or hospital, or anywhere else you may need to go.

Of course, whether that convenience is worth the price of entry is up for debate. But if you're likely to pay for Foxtel in the first place, you probably won't balk at the asking price.

We Liked

It''s so convenient and quick. Even on a fairly poor ADSL2+ connection and a two year old Mac, it still took less than 10 seconds to buffer. Once it started, we never experienced a bump in playback.

The ability to stream to multiple devices also won us over. While it's probably a little bit stricter with the DRM than we'd like - only having two simultaneous connections when you can only have three connected devices seems a bit weak to us - the convenience is still something you don't really get with a full Foxtel subscription.

We Disliked

We'll be honest, we were hoping for more from the Anytime service. It's not that there's nothing to watch via Anytime, it's just that it's not really a viable way to discover a new show. We'd like to be able to try pilot episodes of programs, and then follow through if we like them, like you can with Netflix.

The harder pill to swallow though is the price. Sure, a single package seems like pretty good value. But this was an opportunity for Foxtel to bring a la carte channel subscriptions to the table.

The biggest problem with Foxtel in general is that you need to pay for half a dozen channels you don't care about to get the one channel you do.

In broadcast that may make sense, but this is the internet, and there's simply no reason why users shouldn't be able to create their own package with only the channels they want to pay for.

But more than that is the fact that a complete Play subscription gets you 48 channels, some of which won't play on certain devices. A Platinum broadcast subscription gets you 86 channels, plus an iQ box and HD channels, for an extra $20 a month.

When you factor in you have to pay for broadband usage as well, it simply doesn't stack up as an affordable alternative.

Final Verdict

It's a decent offering, but Foxtel has played it just a little bit too safe to really disrupt the market.

There's a good chance that in 15 years, pretty much all television will be consumed via the internet. With that in mind, Foxtel Play is a good, solid first step for the Pay TV company, after its previous crawling attempts.

We'd love to see more versatility in packaging and pricing, as well as more of a push to on demand streaming. But given the way Foxtel makes its money, there's a good chance we'll be waiting a while for that.

Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.