Impressions of the Foxtel on Xbox 360 service

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In late 2010, Foxtel launched their Foxtel on Xbox 360 service with approximately 40 live channels from the Foxtel service.

I initially didn’t take a second look at this service as I already have three Foxtel units in my house:

  1. IQ HD in the main living room.
  2. IQ in my bedroom.
  3. Standard unit in the rear living room.

I do however have a TV in my home office that currently only has access to free to air (FTA) channels. Because of this, I was thinking of adding an additional Foxtel multiroom unit. I also have two Xbox 360 units in my house – one in the main living room, and one that primarily resides in my home office.

For this reason, I decided to see if the Foxtel on Xbox 360 service would fit the bill instead of having another Foxtel set top unit (STU) installed.

The Packages

There is a basic (compulsory) “Get Started” package for Foxtel on Xbox 360 that retails at $19.50. This package includes 11 channels such as CNN, Discovery, Fox 8, Fox Sports News, Lifetstyle You, MTV, National Geographic, Nickelodeon, Sky News, TV1 and [V].

There are four additional packages that can be added to your subscription, per the following graphic:

The Get Started combined with the Entertainment package suited what I would watch, so I chose this combination.

The Service

The service itself performs quite well. The quality is on par with standard definition TV, and functions perfectly when running.

Changing channels takes between 5-10 seconds on my connection due to the buffering required, so channel surfers may be disappointed.

Data transfer and bandwidth

I monitor the data transfer and bandwidth that goes through my home Internet connection.

Watching Foxtel over Xbox 360 for an hour showed my Internet connection utilising an average of 2Mbps with 982MB transferred. There was some light browsing activity at the same time, so we might be able to assume that Foxtel is using 1.8Mbps and transferred 900MB.

Here’s a graph of my Internet connection over that hour:

My home Internet connection with Internode includes 60GB of monthly data transfer. If I were to continue using Foxtel on Xbox 360, I would need to upgrade my Internet connection.

Users who receive excess bills would need to be very careful here.

Foxtel on Xbox 360 vs Multiroom

The initial press releases and news articles I read about the service indicated that it would be free of charge to existing Foxtel Multiroom subscribers. Unfortunately I cannot find anything on the official Foxtel website supporting this, and even in “My Account” it shows that I would be charged.

If the service is charged, it very rapidly becomes quite expensive as opposed to getting Foxtel to install an additional set top unit:

In that example, I already have the Foxtel Platinum HD package. I could have an additional IQ HD box installed for $25 per month plus $100 setup (a total of $400 in the first year), or use the Foxtel over Xbox 360 service for a yearly total of $894 with less channels.

These fees don’t take into account the Xbox Live Gold account required to access the service, or the upgrade to your monthly Internet quota.

These fees make the service quite expensive for existing customers.

Conclusion

I like the service itself, but the pricing is prohibitive for those who already have an active Foxtel service and with the current pricing it would seem that the target market is not additional Foxtel customers, but those who are in a Foxtel service area who for whatever reason cannot have the traditional service installed.

After the first month I will disconnect the service pending clarification on the multiroom charges. If the service was free of charge or attracted a nominal fee I would keep it.


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