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Foxtel Launching SVOD Service March 13

3 Mar, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Australian pay-TV service Foxtel rolls out discounted bundled subscription to accommodate disgruntled 'Game of Thrones' fans

Australian pay-TV service Foxtel plans to launch a subscription streaming video service with transactional VOD functionality on March 13 — the first platform of its kind from a multichannel video program distributor in the country.

Called “Presto,” the service aims to rival Netflix’s slate of catalog movies (no TV shows) while also offering new-release rentals on street date. Monthly subscriptions run $19.99 (Australian), with movie rentals priced from $5.99. The service does not require a separate Foxtel subscription.

Presto, which is offering the SVOD service for $4.99 for the first month of service, is available on PCs, Macs and iPad. It is not available on Android-based operating systems.

“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. We're looking forward to Presto taking the stage in the coming weeks," Foxtel executive Richard Freudenstein told attendees last month at the Australian Broadcasting Digital Media Summit in Sydney.

While Netflix does not yet operate in Australia or New Zealand, Presto would compete against Quickflix, the country’s first SVOD service, which also offers transactional VOD and by-mail rental discs.

Separately, Foxtel is offering new and existing subscribers in April the ability to watch season four of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which bows April 7, for a $10 premium when combined with a basic $25 cable package. It means subscribers could access the current season for $35 — less than half the normal monthly pay-TV program bundled rate.

The special pricing came after Foxtel secured exclusive rights to HBO’s “Thrones,” which is one of Australia’s most popular TV programs, yet required viewers to purchase a bundled subscription program.

The issue reached the national political stage when Jason Clare, a Labor Party member of Australia’s House of Representatives, publicly complained about consumer access to “Thrones.”

“I had a conversation with Foxtel about this and I said ‘you guys have got a problem,’” Clare said Feb. 18 at a tech conference in Queensland, according to Gizmodo.com.

Clare suggested Foxtel remedy the situation by offering the new season of “Thrones” on Presto — an unlikely scenario since the service doesn’t carry TV shows.

“People like me who love that TV show want to get access to it. If you’re not a Foxtel customer now you don’t want to subscribe just to get that. There’s a lot of people who want to see ‘Game of Thrones’ as quick as they can and they won’t pay for a 12-month subscription to Foxtel,” Clare said.

Foxtel’s Freudenstein said he hoped the special-priced bundled subscription (good for 90 days) would ensure that those who wanted to watch the new season of “Thrones,” would be able to.

“Foxtel’s agreement with HBO means we can provide our customers with first-run access to 'Game of Thrones' season four along with a great library of movies from the Foxtel Movies channels, which we’re thrilled to offer Foxtel Play customers at a special rate during season four of this landmark show,” Freudenstein said in a statement.


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