Microsoft has signed an agreement with Australia’s dominant pay TV provider, Foxtel, to stream over 30 channels to Xbox 360 consoles through Xbox LIVE. The Foxtel by Xbox LIVE service will allow Xbox 360 owners in Australia to access Foxtel channels without the expense of a Foxtel installation and set-top box. Instead, to access the subscription service users will need an Xbox 360 console, Xbox LIVE Gold subscription, broadband connection and a Foxtel by Xbox LIVE subscription.
Although there is no comparable service in the US, Microsoft has previously launched similar content partnerships in Europe, with Canal+ in France and BSkyB in the UK. The Australian service will give Xbox 360 owners access to channels including FOX Sports, Discovery, Nickelodeon, Disney, MTV, to name a few. A range of Video-on-demand (VOD) services, including TV series and movies will also be provided. Online chat will also be possible on the service, meaning users will be able to chat with someone in another location while watching a game of Aussie Rules Football for example.
The service should appeal to people who live in areas where Foxtel is not currently available, or who move frequently, as they will effectively be able to take their pay TV service with them without needing to install a regular Foxtel connection and set-top box at their new address.
Foxtel Chief Executive and Managing Director, Kim Williams AM said, “This is a very exciting new frontier. FOXTEL by Xbox LIVE will provide our 1.6 million subscribing households, as well as new customers, a transformative way of receiving and enjoying FOXTEL over the Internet. We will offer FOXTEL by Xbox LIVE with various packages and prices and under flexible agreements. It is an exciting new way of exploring FOXTEL’s universe of content for a new generation of customers.”
Users will obviously also need a broadband plan with generous download limits to access the service. Although Australia’s biggest Internet provider, Telstra, is a joint partner in Foxtel, along with News Corporation and Consolidated Media Holdings, there was no announcement as to whether the service would be exempt from metered content. However, Williams did say discussions were underway with several ISPs on this front.
The Foxtel by Xbox LIVE service will be launched in Australia towards the end of the calendar year, with packages and prices and the full channel line up to be announced closer to the service’s launch date.