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Foxtel vs Fetch TV: What’s the difference?

While on-demand streaming is taking the country by storm, Foxtel and Fetch still offer set-top box options with live news, sports and more.


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Important spoiler: The very next time you need to decide which Internet or phone supplier to hitch with, you will be faced with a two-fold question: would you like a Foxtel or a Fetch TV entertainment bundle with that? The correct answer will require a calculator, a deal decoder wheel and a magnifying glass for some fine print to ensure you're getting the most entertainment for your moolah. Alternatively, just use finder as a cheat sheet. Before we begin, let's get the absolute basics out of the way first. Fetch TV and Foxtel are both TV services that offer their wares to you via slightly different means. Fetch requires a set-top box that utilises your existing Internet connection.

Foxtel has Internet capabilities for on-demand content, but the lion's share of what it offers will be piped down a dedicated physical cable. Once your abode has been threaded with said wire, you'll hook up via a set-top box which, unlike Fetch TV, does not play nice with third-party streaming services like Stan and Netflix.

Quick side note: There is also Foxtel Now, which ditches all the wall drilling and dedicated box in favour of a web-based solution (read: you can use your existing Internet connection to access it more or less anywhere via a browser or a dedicated app).

So what passes for entertainment around here?

You know what? Let's forget about the means of delivery for a second. The biggest factor in your decision should always be what goodies can be streamed to you. Technically, Foxtel has the larger library of content on offer but there can be quite a bit of channel/content cross-over between these two competitors. That said, to get the edge on one another, Fetch and Foxtel have arranged certain exclusivity deals to entice customers into their respective flocks.

Foxtel Subscription Packages

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Name Product Details Service type 4K/UHD? Simultaneous streams Free trial? Price What's next?
Foxtel Sport + Drama + Entertainment
Foxtel Sport + Drama + Entertainment

Foxtel Sport + Drama + Entertainment

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    On-demand streaming
    Pay TV
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By and large, Foxtel has been in the local market longer and has identified and secured content that matters most to the average Aussie. Yes, I'm talking about our inescapable national obsession: sports. Foxtel has more sportsball than you can poke a cricket bat at. The service has 12 dedicated channels offering LIVE and exclusive sports coverage to let you catch every round of the AFL, NRL, Super Rugby, A-League and Supercars.

If you're after more international fare, you can check out Formula One, the best of European football (UEFA Champions League, Series A, Bundesliga and La Liga) and US sports including the NBA and NFL as well as worldwide coverage of rugby, cricket and tennis. Basically, if you're into watching outdoor pursuits while being indoors, Foxtel is more or less the undisputed king of it.

Foxtel also has some pretty good deals in place for some of the hottest drama TV series in the world. It currently has the rights for Game of Thrones in a chokehold, along with the likes of Westworld, Veep, The Walking Dead and more. Express delivery of these US series are mirrored by similarly quick access to the best British content the BBC can offer. Last, but not least, the service is well flush with eight doco channels, six of the best kids channels available and ten dedicated movie channels that are kept reasonably up-to-date.

Fetch TV

On the other side of the fence is Fetch TV, a relative newcomer to the local streaming service scene. Fetch TV is a fairly basic experience straight out of the box. If you're not willing to part with some extra money, you're only going to get 30 free (pre-selected) movies that cycle in and out monthly. Access to a decent range of new film releases and 7000 older titles can be yours for per-movie rental prices of around $7 a pop (at which point you'll get 48 hours access to it).

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That's a pretty steep option. If you really want to be entertained for a decent price, you should definitely look to invest in premium channel packs instead. And, mercifully, there are some deals out there with telcos and the like that will offer these “free” with a deal (see below).

With the Variety pack, it's a bit of an eclectic mix of entertainment. You get the Universal Channel, 13th Street and the abomination of spelling that is SyFy. English-types can get a taste of the motherland with BBC First or BBC UKTV, plus there are laughs and nostalgia aplenty on TV Hits and 111 Funny, respectively. Rounding things out are the smooth tunes of MTV Classic and there's slightly more current stuff on Music TV.

Not cutting edge enough for you? Maybe the Vibe pack is more your style with its youthful offerings of E!, Style, Fashion TV and three different MTV music channels. They're complemented by the edgiest yucks available on Comedy Central, Edge, Spike and a bit of sports with ESPN and ESPN 2.

It also has to be said that Fetch TV has the edge on Foxtel when it comes to more serious pursuits, thanks to the Knowledge channel pack. It's positively packed with National Geographic documentaries and networks that will appease both foodies and jetsetters. However, the big offering here is the ten major news network stations including CNN, Bloomberg, Aljazeera and BBC World News. If you value being informed, then Fetch has you covered.

Last of all, this service will keep your rugrats a bit happier than Foxtel with nine major kids networks (as opposed to six). Fetch TV offers wall-to-wall Nickelodeon, Cbeebies and more Disney than you can poke a stick at.

Getting Set for Set-top Boxes

Once again, Foxtel and Fetch TV have very different ideas when it comes to the physical hardware required for content delivery. Both Fetch TV and Foxtel will require a set-top box, but before we get into the nitty-gritty, it should be quickly noted that Foxtel Now does not (any old device with a web browser will suffice).

Fetch TV is a bit of a deep end, initially, though you have to remember that you're paying for versatility – the two set-top boxes it offers can also be easily used with a bunch of services like Stan and Netflix. Foxtel forbids this with its hardware.

The Fetch TV Mini set-top box retails at $169, while the Fetch TV Mighty retails at $399. The difference? Mighty is a PVR that can record up to six channels at once from three different networks or streaming pay TV and has support for UltraHD streaming (read: Netflix in 4k). Meanwhile, the CD-case-sized Mini forgoes the ability to record digital television, only supports Full HD streaming and only has storage enough to hold 15 minutes for rewind purposes.

Over the fence at Foxtel, you also have two options available: the iQ2 and the iQ3. Only this time they're included in the deal for free. Obviously, the iQ2 is the older technology here but it still fares pretty well thanks to a decent UI experience, ease of use and tons of connectivity on the back (which includes an eSATA option to expand beyond the 320GB storage).

On paper, the iQ3 sounds miles better than its predecessor. In the pitch, Foxtel says it has superior Wi-Fi capabilities, the ability to restart shows via a 24-hour look-back system, an improved UI and a remote that's been upgraded to Bluetooth technology. However, the reality is that this unit has had a bunch of problems from the get-go. Users have been hammering the iQ3 in online reviews, citing remote connection issues, freezing and slow menu responsiveness. Basically, I'd strongly advise you to stick with the iQ2 until Foxtel can get itself in order.

And what is all this going to cost me?

Foxtel typically asks you to sign a six-month subscription contract for the basic Entertainment pack ($29 a month). This includes an iQ3 set-top box but you may still be slugged with a $25 self-installation kit, depending on the circumstances of your domicile.

Once everything is hooked up, this isn't an all-you-can eat smorgasbord of entertainment for one flat fee. The service is modular by design and to get the best of sports, movies, dramas and docos, you'll need to pay $10 to $20 extra for each of the specific channel packs (Sport, Movies, Drama, Entertainment Plus, Docos and Kids).

Basically, the above selections have been strategically set up to make you want to buy into multiple packs, which is a bit of a pain. Worse, you'll need to part with another $10 a month to make your content stream in HD (and the max resolution is 1080i).

Fetch TV's initial setup won't lock you into a contract, but it's a steeper affair, thanks to the mandatory purchase of either a Mini set-top box ($169) or a Mighty one ($399). Like Foxtel, Fetch slices up all of its premium channel packs but I feel that they're grouped a bit more sensibly in terms of viewer interest.

Variety, Vibe, Knowledge and Kids packs can be bolted onto your service for $6 a pop, or $20 can land you the lot which comes in way cheaper than what you'd pay to get the full Foxtel experience. Mind you, it should be noted that this does not include the “Special Interest packs” like beIN Sports, Optus Sports, UFC pay-per-view or the edge-of-your-saddle equestrian antics of Horse and Country.

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