Foxtel presses the launch button on Presto
Foxtel’s Subscription Video-on-Demand service dubbed Presto will launch on March 13, three months behind schedule but at a lower price than originally announced.
Pitched at the 70% of Australian homes that do not subscribe to pay-TV, Presto will offer live streaming of all seven Foxtel movie channels plus access to library titles for $19.99 per month. Customers can also get first-release on-demand movies for the usual per-title fee.
When Foxtel announced the online service last September, the monthly fee was $24.99 and it was due to launch before the end of the year. Foxtel said the delay was caused by the technical complexities of IPTV delivery and by the need to ensure the optimal quality of content at launch.
As an inducement, new customers will pay $4.99 for the first month. There is no lock-in contract or need to buy through a basic tier.
The channels are Foxtel Movies Premiere, Foxtel Movies Comedy, Foxtel Movies Romance, Foxtel Movies Thriller, Foxtel Movies Action, Foxtel Movies Family and Foxtel Movies Masterpiece.
The movies will be available initially via PC and Mac computers and compatible iPads and soon, Android tablets. Jacqui Feeney, Director of Presto and Foxtel on Demand, tells IF the firm is looking to expand Presto to big screen TVs, noting that IPTV service Foxtel Play is available on connected TVs and game consoles.
She said the $19.99 per month fee is intended to make the service "affordable for more Australians." She added that Foxtel is looking to enhance Presto in three areas, features/functionality, devices and content, including offering TV episodes, down the track.
Movies account for only 12% of total viewing across the Foxtel platform so there seems little chance that existing Foxtel subscribers would give up the full service to pay $20 a month for movies via Presto.
Other pay-TV executives say the biggest challenge facing SVoD services is the "inertia" factor in the living rooms of non-subscribers, who need to connect their smart TVs to the internet to stream movies on big screens.
“We’re thrilled to announce that the countdown is on for the launch of Presto. Starting March 13, Australian movie lovers will have access to as many movies as they want from a massive library of cinematic hits for a price per week equivalent to what they’d pay for just one standard iTunes movie rental,” CEO Richard Freudenstein told the Australian Broadcasting Digital Media Summit in Sydney.
“We’ve had fantastic feedback since our initial announcement and anticipation from Australians, hungry for a new way to experience great movies, when and where they want, and free from ad-breaks, continues to grow."
Presto looms as a formidable competitor to Quickflix and to the SVoD services which the free-to-air networks are due to roll out later this year.