Foxtel: Wikis

  
  

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Foxtel Management Pty Limited
Type Proprietary limited joint venture between
Founded 1995
Headquarters Macquarie Park, New South Wales & Moonee Ponds, Victoria,  Australia
Key people Kim Williams, CEO
Bruce Akhurst, Chairman
Industry Pay television
Products Foxtel Digital, Foxtel iQ, Foxtel iQ2
Revenue $A165 million[3]
Profit $A73 million[3]
Employees 1,500[4]
Website www.foxtel.com.au

Foxtel is an Australian pay television company, operating both cable and direct broadcast satellite television services. It is formed on October 1995 through a joint venture established between Telstra, News Corporation and Consolidated Media Holdings.

Contents

History

In October 1995, Foxtel commenced a 20 channel service, delivered over the Telstra Hybrid Fibre Coaxial network.[5]

In May 1998, Australis Media, the owner of a satellite television service known as Galaxy, was declared insolvent. In June 1998 Foxtel was able to significantly boost its customer base by acquiring Galaxy subscribers from the liquidator of Australis Media and immediately commenced supplying programming to Galaxy's subscribers on an interim basis.[6] In February 1999 Foxtel began offering it's own satellite service to new customers.[7]

In 2002, a Content Sharing Agreement between Foxtel and Optus Television was approved by the ACCC[8]

Foxtel's shareholders comprise Telstra (50%, through Telstra Media Pty Ltd) and joint venture company Sky Cable Pty Ltd that is owned by News Corporation (25%) and Consolidated Media Holdings (25%). It shares many features with the Sky Digital service in the United Kingdom, including iQ, the electronic program guide, a similar remote control, and Red Button Active.

Foxtel grew rapidly in 2007, with most of Foxtel's highest-ever rating events being broadcast that year, including the 2007 AFC Asian Cup quarter final between Australia and Japan, which drew an average of 419,000 viewers,[9] an Australian pay television record.

Availability

Foxtel transmits its cable service via Telstra hybrid fibre-coaxial cable into the Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth metropolitan areas. Foxtel also transmits its satellite service into these cities as well as the state of Western Australia and the cities of Newcastle, Geelong Victoria, Central Coast, Canberra and Gold Coast. However, satellite service is not available at user sites where Telstra cable is available, and Gold Coast is available on HFC Cable only. Foxtel on Mobile launched on Telstra's Next G Network in late 2006 and is now available within Telstra Next G (HSDPA/850 MHz) coverage areas, which covers 99% of the population. [10]

Telstra's network and Foxtel were created to combat the threat posed to Telstra's local call business by the combination of Optus Vision (now known as Optus TV) content bundling with Optus' local telephony services; Foxtel was the content arm of Telstra's defence strategy, while Telstra's multimedia broadband network was originally the sole delivery system.

In 2002, Foxtel and Optus Television agreed to a content-sharing arrangement. Programming competition between the two companies has now dissipated. Austar, a regional pay television operator, also carries most Foxtel programming. Austar sells satellite-delivered services to regional Australian markets that are not serviced by Foxtel.

Foxtel subscriber growth from 1995 to 2007[11][12]

Foxtel is Australia's largest pay television operator. Its programming is currently delivered to over 1.5 million Australian homes either directly or by Foxtel's wholesale customers. Foxtel is available to over 70% of Australian homes. In April 2008, Foxtel's penetration into Australian homes reached 30%.[13] This penetration rate is low compared with market penetration rates in the US (over 85%)[14] and in Western Europe (over 55%)[15]. This is due to the fact that Australian pay-TV fees are more expensive than the US ones.

Foxtel announced its maiden annual profit in 2006, more than 10 years after it commenced services. The installation and maintenance of Foxtel services is Telstra's responsibility. In many markets Telstra has outsourced installation and maintenance to large communications contractors, including ABB Communications and Siemens-Thiess Communications Joint Venture.

In 2007, Network Ten formed an agreement with Foxtel to allow them to carry a digital version of Ten's programming. Included in the deal is electronic program guide data, which allows Foxtel iQ users to schedule recordings on Ten. Before the agreement, Ten was carried in an analogue format on cable only.

In 2008, Seven Network finally entered an agreement to allow Foxtel to carry its SD signal

In 2008 the first Pay TV package comparison site YouCompare.com.au/PayTV was launched to allow Foxtel packages and pricing to be compared to SelecTV

On November 15, 2009 Foxtel released an additional 25 channels to satellite and cable subscribers, consisting of high definition channels, movie and theme channels, and several new time-shifted channels. As part of the release, Seven began broadcasting to satellite subscribers in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

On November 24, 2009 Foxtel added 7TWO to the East Coast (satellite) and 7TWO and GO! to cable subscribers. ABC3 was recently introduced on December 4, 2009 to all Foxtel and Austar subscribers.

Channels on Foxtel

Services

Although originally launching in 1995 with just a cable service, Foxtel has branched out into many new services since its inception.

Foxtel Digital

Foxtel.svg

Foxtel launched its digital service (Foxtel Digital) in March 2004. The service is loosely based on another of News Corporation's subscription providers, BSkyB. Features of the digital service include:

Like many other News Corporation-owned digital platforms, Foxtel uses NDS Group encryption system, electronic program guide and digital video recorder services, the OpenTV interactive platform, and primarily runs on Pace Micro Technology set-top boxes.

Foxtel's satellite service transmits exclusively from the Optus C1 satellite on a frequency of 12.438 GHz and adjacent frequencies. The Telstra hybrid fibre-coaxial cable carries Foxtel at frequencies of approximately 560 MHz (downstream) and 2.4 MHz (upstream).

As of April 2007, all Foxtel subscribers are using the digital set-up, making Foxtel Digital synonymous with the standard Foxtel service.

Foxtel HD+

Foxtel HD+ Logo

Foxtel announced their High Definition service called Foxtel HD+ on January 30, 2008, and became officially available on May 19, 2008. The service offers five channels in High Definition, Fox Sports HD, ESPN HD, BBC HD, Discovery HD and National Geographic Channel HD, as well as Foxtel Box Office HD and a retransmission of the free-to-air networks high definition channels (ABC1, SBS, Seven, Nine and Ten) to cable customers.[16] Foxtel are to launch several more HD, and SD channels after the launch of the Optus D3 satellite.[17] These new channels became available on November 15, 2009.

Foxtel HD+ is broadcast in MPEG-4 and provides channels in both 720p and 1080i.

Foxtel Download

On 1 October 2009, Foxtel launched an online download service which allows all cable and satellite customers to access Foxtel content via their computer.[18] The service is free for customers, who can download programs from channels within their subscription package. There is currently one live streaming channel, ESPN, while the remainder of the service provides episodes of programs from 38 channels. CEO Kim Williams has highlighted that Foxtel plans to expand its live streaming channel range later in the year to coincide with the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and the launch of thirty new channels for Foxtel Digital and HD.[19] This service has been the source of great controversy as there was no support for Linux, Mac or any 64 bit Windows Operating Systems, leaving many users unable to install the client.

Foxtel On Demand

Foxtel On Demand is a service offered by Foxtel to iQ subscribers that allows people to watch selected shows and movies whenever they want. Foxtel On Demand was launched on 8 February 2007, with a variety of programmes and included the entire second season of Love My Way.

The service is available to all Foxtel iQ customers as part of the service, however the programming able to be played is typically restricted to the channels that the customer is subscribed to. For example, customers not subscribed to the movie channels are not be able to view the stored movies.

Mobile Foxtel

Launched in late 2006 to coincide with Telstra's NextG 3G Mobile phone network, Mobile Foxtel (previously Foxtel By Mobile) offers 12 standard channels of programming for a small subscription fee, optimised for mobile devices. At present the channels available are:[20] SKY NEWS Headlines, Sky News Business Channel, CNN, FoxSportsNews, FOX8, The Comedy Channel, MTV, E! Entertainment, Fashion TV, Discovery Mobile, Disney Channel, Union Extreme Sports, Cartoon Network, TV1, National Geographic and Eurosportnews.

With the exception of CNN, Fashion TV, Eurosportsnews and FoxSportsNews, which are direct simulcasts of the actual channel and Sky News channels which are taken from the Sky News Active service, all channels are pre-produced loops that do not directly correlate to the full scale satellite/cable channel. At present, a limit of 200 minutes per month, with 15 minutes per session, may apply to the service, although this has not been strictly enforced.[20]

On December 5, 2009, Foxtel launched a Mobile TV Guide for the Apple iPhone, dubbed "Foxtel Guide". Features include: Remote Record for IQ and IQ2, free to air listings, program descriptions and even classifications. The application is free to download from the iPhone App Store and is also available to non-subscribers.

Foxtel magazine

Foxtel's magazine, simply titled Foxtel, is the television listing magazine for Foxtel subscribers. It offers daily listings for most of the 130 channels offered on the platform, and is the only medium that subscribers can find information and recommendations on programming for the entire month.

Foxtel's magazine is Australia's highest-circulating paid-for monthly magazine, reaching over 815,000 homes every month.[21] It is published for Foxtel by ACP Magazines, and distributed to Foxtel subscribers (who choose to pay for this service) by the postal service.

Available Models

Foxtel iQ

The satellite Foxtel iQ set top box

Foxtel has also launched Foxtel iQ, a timeshifting personal digital recorder, in which subscribers are able to record programs onto a hard drive inside the set-top unit for later viewing. Foxtel iQ includes a feature called Series Link, which lets the viewer choose to record all future episodes in a given television series. However, not all programmes are available with the Series Link feature. Foxtel iQ also allows viewers to use the rewind or pause features during television programs. Two new services, On Demand and Remote Record, launched in 2007. Remote Record was launched on 1 January 2007 and allows users to log in to the interactive TV guide on the Foxtel website and then command their IQ at home to record shows, while On Demand was launched on 8 February 2007. This service is based on Sky+, which was launched on News Corporation's UK television platform Sky in 2001.

Pace plc are the set top box provider for iQ, of which they claim that the cable version of iQ is the first DVB-based cable digital video recorder.[22]

Foxtel iQ2 (current model) (High Definition)

The satellite Foxtel iQ2 set top box

Foxtel's second generation Foxtel iQ, Foxtel iQ2 launched alongside the Foxtel HD+ service in mid 2008. Equipped with a 320Gb Hard Drive, iQ2 is capable of recording 30 hours of HD and 90 hours of SD content and offers HDMI connectivity [23]

The iQ2 is equipped with four tuners, allowing users to record two programs at once while watching a third live. The fourth tuner is reserved for on demand content.

Foxtel iQ1

Foxtel have been stating in their online blog that a minor upgraded version of the original iQ will be launched alongside the iQ2 to be called the iQ1, Foxtel's plan is to have all customers migrated to the iQ1 or iQ2 within the next few years. This unit has HDMI output, at launch it only worked for picture and not sound. Foxtel later updated the boxes to allow sound.

Legislation affecting Foxtel

Advertising

When Foxtel was launched in 1995, advertising during programs was banned under Australian Government legislation for the first two years. Foxtel have since gradually increased advertising across its platform, although still today legislation prevents Foxtel and other pay TV businesses from earning more than 50% of their revenue from advertising.[24] Certain programming on select channels are broadcast commercial-free such as movies on Showtime and selected games on Fox Sports.[citation needed]

Anti-siphoning

The Australian Government's anti-siphoning laws also prevent Foxtel and other pay TV suppliers from acquiring exclusive rights to specific sporting events such as cricket, golf, tennis and the football codes. Under the legislation pay TV licencees are prevented from bidding for major sporting events until a right is acquired by the ABC, SBS or a free-to-air commercial network.[25] In 2009 the Minister for Communications announced a review of the legislation.[26]

Third Party Access

Foxtel prevents users from using their subscription card in a third-party decoder, and requires all users to watch the service on a supplied set-top box, included with the subscription, however some users have reported being able to watch certain channels on a computer with a DVB-C card and using sasc-ng to decrypt the video content using card readers to read the decoding keys stored on the card used in Foxtel's iQ.[27]

Foxtel-owned channels

References

  1. ^ Foxtel
  2. ^ Foxtel
  3. ^ a b Foxtel Half Year Revenue
  4. ^ Working at Foxtel
  5. ^ FOXTEL's 10th Birthday Bash
  6. ^ Anne, By (3 June 1998). "Foxtel pulls off coup in battle for pay TV". Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, Australia: Fairfax Media): p. 31. http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/viewDocument.ac?docID=news980603_0686_6609. Retrieved 26 Feb 2010. 
  7. ^ Daniel, By (28 February 1999). "Pay TV audience doubles". The Sun-Herald (Sydney, Australia: Fairfax Media): p. 33. http://newsstore.fairfax.com.au/apps/viewDocument.ac?docID=news990303_0617_4282. Retrieved 26 Feb 2010. 
  8. ^ ASTRA History of Subscription TV
  9. ^ "Japan Game a TV Record". http://au.fourfourtwo.com/news/56973,japan-game-a-tv-record.aspx. 
  10. ^ http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile/nextg/coverage.html
  11. ^ "Get the Picture - Pay TV - Subscriber numbers - By operator". Australian Film Commission. 15 January 2008. http://www.afc.gov.au/gtp/wptvsubsxops.html. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  12. ^ Foxtel (20 February 2008). "Foxtel delivers subscriber, profit and TV viewing share growth". Press release. http://www.foxtel.com.au/236_6739.htm. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  13. ^ "national subscriber penetration has passed 30 per cent". http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23619723-7582,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-26. 
  14. ^ Hindman, DB; Wiegand, K (Mar 2008), "The big three's prime-time decline: A technological and social context", Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media 52 (1): 119-135 
  15. ^ http://www.zenithoptimedia.com/gff/pdf/Television%20in%20Western%20Europe%20to%202014.pdf
  16. ^ Retransmission on Foxtel
  17. ^ Foxtel acquires additional bandwidth on new Optus satellite
  18. ^ http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/story/0,28383,26142218-10229,00.html Foxtel Download Launch
  19. ^ http://www.rapidtvnews.com/index.php/200909234783/foxtel-download-on-track-for-october.html Foxtel Download
  20. ^ a b Mobile Foxtel
  21. ^ ACP Magazines - Foxtel
  22. ^ Pace to Launch World's First DVB Cable PDR for payTV
  23. ^ HD on Foxtel - Foxtel iQ2
  24. ^ http://www.foxtel.com.au/about-foxtel/ceo-speeches/giving-the-new-media-puzzle-a-sporting-chance-45801.htm
  25. ^ http://www.dbcde.gov.au/television/antisiphoning_and_antihoarding
  26. ^ http://www.dbcde.gov.au/television/antisiphoning_and_antihoarding/sport_on_television_review_of_the_antisiphoning_scheme
  27. ^ http://omcentre.com.au/Getting-Pay-TV-to-Work-With-MythTV.102.0.html
  28. ^ About XYZnetworks

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