Announced with great fanfare and a slick, expensive advertising blitz is Foxtel’s latest effort at building a streaming service, Foxtel Now.
Look at the iOS App Store reviews:
- Foxtel Now: 1.6 (current)
- Stan: 3.5 (current)
- Netflix: 3.5 (overall)
Stan, despite operating on a sliver of the budget of Netflix, competes favourably when it comes to user experience. It has a simple to sign up process and easy to use apps that are available on every platform.
By comparison Foxtel Now is only on mobile devices (with AirPlay disabled), PC and Mac (the Mac app has never worked), Chromecast, Telstra TV (but not Apple TV) and “other devices” including game consoles a small range of Smart TVs.
The Foxtel Now apps are rebranded versions of their Foxtel Play apps. (Foxtel Play was another attempt to offer a Foxtel streaming service unbundled from the TV offering.) These apps are buggy and slow. Plus they still contain 100% of the old Foxtel Play UI, only the icon has been updated.
Except on Xbox One, where it is still completely branded as Foxtel Play. But you will need to log out and log back in for it to work. It also doesn’t store your ‘favourites’ list globally, so you’ll need to make a new one on each device. And on my 100mbps NBN I couldn’t live stream any channel where the text isn’t heavily pixellated. On-demand quality is fine.
Curiously the MyFoxtel app has also been given an updated icon (but not UI). This app serves as a TV guide and would be of more interest surely to TV users than those on a streaming service. Why would anyone use one app to see what’s on and another app to watch it?
Foxtel Go still exists, the streaming service for Foxtel TV subscribers.
That this many platforms exist with this many names is the most easily identifiable problem with Foxtel’s entire campaign. I haven’t even mentioned Presto.
Yes but what do they actually show?
That you can write 300+ words trying to demystify what the service actually is, hides what it actually shows.
Foxtel has one key advantage when it comes to their service offering; live sport. But with the cheapest package coming in at around $40/month it comes at a 400% premium to its rivals. Good content should cost more. But you cannot justify having the most expensive and worst experience at the same time, no matter how good the content is.
They also have Game of Thrones at Wentworth. There’s probably 100 other channels but outside of those two shows and AFL there’s not a whole lot being promoted.
The service is split into bundles because that’s all they know how to sell. Some bundles include the same channels as others, but it’s not immediately clear which channels each pack includes.
The offering is, unsurprisingly, a confusing mess.
Here’s my overly simplified plan to fix Foxtel’s offering.
- Continue to charge a premium for premium content, the price is not the issue here
- Drop the idea of live streaming for anything that isn’t sport, go all on-demand
- Drop the idea of bundles for anything that isn’t sport
- Simplify the product into two tiers with simple pricing; scripted programming on demand ($20/month), and that plus live sport ($20/month)
- Take 90% of the money spent on marketing and spend it on developers
- Re-write the application from the ground up by the most expensive developers and designers you can find
- Put your application everywhere, without restrictions
I’m in the market for a high quality streaming service with the best shows and live sport, but that doesn’t exist yet. I’m someone that lives and breathes technology every day and every experience I’ve had in trying to get Foxtel Now to work makes me wonder how they expect anyone else to subscribe to and be happy with this service.
The whole offering feels entirely like something an out of touch executive asked to have commissioned, but has never used or personally wanted. It’s as dead on arrival as every other attempt they’ve made. I wonder how many failed launches it will take to get it right.