It feels like every move Foxtel are making of late is of considerable interest. They’re doing a solid job of reinventing their distribution platforms, moving ‘Foxtel’ towards developing into a robust and flexible pay television operator. Currently they are (in a sense) decentralising their service by making it widely available across multiple platforms. Beyond the standard Foxtel installation (with the big black cable/satelite and an iQ Box), there is also their distribution via the Xbox 360 and the soon-to-launch T-Box service.

One of the issues stopping potential audience members from signing up to Foxtel has been the contracts, along with the required infrastructure. For those renting or unwilling to have their house cabled or fitted with a satellite, Foxtel until now hasn’t been an option. Xbox 360 and T-Box distribution has provided flexibility in making their service available via IPTV. With an Internet and networked Xbox/T-Box, anyone can quite easily set up a Foxtel service within minutes.

The problem with the Xbox 360 Foxtel platform has been data. Since the service launched last year, anyone wanting Foxtel via their gaming system needed a high data quota for their Internet if they wanted to use the service. That much streaming video will really eat into ones data (and wallet). Foxtel have now announced that for Telstra Bigpond customers, Foxtel by way of the Xbox 360 will now no longer count towards customers monthly quota.

It’s worth noting that customers who use other ISP’s will still incur data charges using Foxtel on their Xbox 360. With most ISP’s now launching Fetch TV services, there’s little reason for them to sign deals with the competing service Foxtel to provide quota-free access.

For those wanting Foxtel via their Xbox 360, this may be welcome news.

* * *

FOXTEL announced Telstra BigPond broadband customers will not be charged for any data when using FOXTEL on Xbox 360, and there will be six BigPond TV channels added to the service from Monday, May 30, 2011.

This means all video content will be unmetered for Telstra BigPond customers when viewing the FOXTEL on Xbox 360 service, including watching TV shows from up to 30 world-leading FOXTEL channels on the live streaming television service, the six BigPond TV channels, Catch Up TV, and hundreds of new release films, library movies and TV episodes from the FOXTEL on Xbox 360 On Demand service.

The six channels from BigPond TV cover sport, racing and news including: FOOTY TV the AFL channel, LEAGUE TV the NRL channel, V8 Supercars Australia, RACING TV with TVN, BigPond Sport TV, and BigPond News. These channels will be available on the FOXTEL on Xbox 360 service to all Get Started subscribers at no additional charge.

This is the first time FOXTEL on Xbox 360 subscribers will have the benefit of both selected live coverage of sports via FOX SPORTS PLAY and ESPN, as well as streamed AFL and NRL games available on delay.

In addition, from June games from the current season of AFL and NRL will be available on the service as Catch Up video on demand, and a highlights piece will also be available for each AFL and NRL game. Live AFL will come to FOXTEL on Xbox 360 from the start of the 2012 season.

FOXTEL Executive Director of Product & Sales, Patrick Delany said, “This arrangement with Telstra is a big win for FOXTEL on Xbox 360 users, allowing unmetered access to thousands of hours of great programming – all without a FOXTEL fixed term contract.* There are around 1.3 million Xbox consoles in Australia and getting unmetered access to FOXTEL on Xbox 360 is now as simple as plugging into BigPond internet to give subscription TV a go.

“The FOXTEL on Xbox 360 service offers FOXTEL’s huge amount of exclusive and first run TV programming, plus access to hours and hours of On Demand TV episodes, new release films and movie favourites. There’s always something to watch, either live or On Demand and it’s simple to sign up online and start watching straight away.”

Telstra’s Executive Director of Media, J-B Rousselot said, “Hundreds of thousands of Australian homes now have access to BigPond TV channels which makes a compelling reason to get online through Telstra. BigPond’s unmetered content is already a hit with T-Box, Samsung and LG customers, and we’re pleased to be bringing unmetering to customers connected to FOXTEL on Xbox 360.”

Try FOXTEL on Xbox 360 for free for a month by signing up any time in June. Watch over 35 live streaming channels (including BigPond’s AFL and NRL channels), there’s no installation required, no FOXTEL fixed term contract, and you can change your subscription anytime – with everything delivered over your broadband connection.* Plus it’s unmetered on Telstra BigPond which means there’s no maximum download limit.

Existing FOXTEL on Xbox360 subscribers who don’t already subscribe to the showtime movies or Movie Network packages will be able to watch all movies from these channels for free throughout June.*

The FOXTEL on Xbox 360 premiere programming highlights this June include: Big Fat Gypsy Weddings on Lifestyle YOU, True Blood (Season One) on FOX8, Torchwood: Miracle Day on UKTV, Upstairs Downstairs on UKTV, Lip Service on showcase, The Real King’s Speech on National Geographic Channel, Tennis: Wimbledon Championships on FOX SPORTS PLAY, and NBA Finals on ESPN.

Continuing highlights available on FOXTEL on Xbox 360 include Balls of Steel Australia from The Comedy Channel, Jersey Shore from MTV, Tim Winton’s cloudstreet from showcase, Boardwalk Empire from showcase, Man vs Wild from Discovery, and B430 on channel [V].

BigPond TV Channels include:

FOOTY TV: AFL TV is around-the-clock action featuring the best of the AFL regular-season and finals series. With match replays, highlights, player interviews, International Rules action and much more, this is 24/7 footy at its best. From June AFL games will be available as Catch Up video on demand after a twelve hour delay following the live game.

LEAGUE TV: Catch every game of the Telstra Premiership, Finals Series, State of Origin, City v Country, Four Nations and Test Matches on LEAGUE TV. LEAGUE TV offers match highlights, full game replays, NRL news, player interviews and more. From June NRL games will be available as Catch Up video on demand after a twenty-four hour delay following the live game.

V8 TV: Suit up for 24/7 streaming of the big events including, live action, interviews and driver features, expert analysis, race recaps, crash compiles and more. V8 races are streamed live and a highlights piece from each race is available as Catch Up video on demand.

RACING TV: TVN is a dedicated thoroughbred racing channel including local and international racing, commentary, tipping services and the latest thoroughbred industry news and information from Australia and around the world.

BigPond News: BigPond News provides the latest entertainment, finance and technology stories, regular weather updates, live crosses to breaking news, broadcast around the clock.

BigPond Sport: BigPond Sport TV covers everything to do with sport – tune in and sit back for big news, plus live events, big-match replays, highlights, opinion and profiles from all the sport you love.

FOXTEL on Xbox 360 subscribers can choose the amount of data used when watching live streamed TV by selecting the “Change Quality” option when watching a channel, and choose from any of the High, Medium or Low settings. The download file size of Catch Up TV and On Demand movies or TV episodes varies depending on the duration of the title selected, and this information is clearly communicated onscreen prior to viewing on FOXTEL on Xbox 360.

* Only available to Xbox 360 owners who live in FOXTEL metropolitan areas of Australia and who subscribe to both the Xbox LIVE service and the FOXTEL on Xbox 360 service. Xbox LIVE Gold subscription required for all live TV packages.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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