Foxtel pitches unlimited Presto as streaming war heats up

Analysts debate impact of unlimited streaming offers at ISPs

Foxtel has confirmed its new broadband service will include unlimited streaming of Presto, the Foxtel-owned movie and TV streaming subscription service.

Australian analysts expressed mixed views on the impact that deals like this will on the imminent subscription IPTV war that includes Presto, Netflix, Quickflix and the Nine/Fairfax joint venture Stan.

Foxtel revealed it would enter the broadband market earlier this week, announcing details of triple-play bundles that combine Internet access, Foxtel TV and home phone service.

The service won’t include a Presto subscription, but data used on the Presto service will not count against the data limit on Foxtel broadband plans, Presto said today. Presto costs $9.99 per month to get only TV shows or only movies, or $14.99 monthly to get both TV and movies.

Some Australian ISPs have previously offered unmetered access to their own or third-party IPTV-style services, for example ABC's iView streaming service.

In 2012 Quickflix signed a deal with Exetel, providing unlimited streaming of the IPTV service on the ISP's ADSL service (the deal was later withdrawn because Exetel’s wholesale intermediary ceased its relationship with Quickflix, an Exetel spokesman said).

IBRS analyst Guy Cranswick said offers for unlimited streaming might not actually matter to many Australian consumers.

“It might be a good pitch but with larger quotas and really good compression, a household might not use a lot of data [even when] they binge on an entire TV series.”

However, Telsyte analyst Foad Fadaghi said more such partnerships between ISPs and over-the-top (OTT) providers are likely, and heavy video users are likely to embrace such options.

“It’s a critical issue as download allowance utilisation is on the rise,” the analyst said. “The likelihood of more deals is high as OTT providers partner with ISPs in the future to deliver content bundles.”

A potential future deal struck with a mobile telco could be even more valuable, as mobile data limits tend to be much smaller – generally no more than 5GB – than on wired broadband, for which many telcos now offer in 200GB, 500GB and greater monthly quotas.

“The challenge is equally or even higher with mobile, as consumers will use up a lot of their allowance just to say watch a TV show,” said Fadaghi.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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