Pay TV Comparison

Information verified correct on December 4th, 2016

payTVSubscription based Pay TV gives Australian households access to premium channels and unique programming choices.

The launch of Galaxy in 1995 was the first pay TV available in Australia. As of 2012, there were only 28% of Australian households subscribed to a pay TV services, with Foxtel dominating the majority of the market. That 28% is one of the lowest for pay TV in the developed world.

Galaxy was terminated in 1998, and Foxtel acquired most of their customer subscriptions. Today, the four leading pay TV providers include Foxtel, iiNet, Optus and Telstra. These all work with digital TV technology to bring their channels to Australian households.

What is Pay TV?

Pay TV is a generic term that refers to subscription television services that are provided using analog, digital cable and satellite. In Australia, analog television has been eliminated since 2012, narrowing the choices in how your Pay TV service is brought into your home. Pay TV should not be confused with Pay-per-View, which is a service that allows you to buy one program or movie at a time. Although the terms premium channels or premium television are sometimes used when describing pay TV.

Since pay TV is a subscription based service, the companies that provide it offer channels and programming that are unique in order to entice new customers to buy their service. Specialised channels are created to appeal to different groups of people. Since advertising on most of these channels is not the main source of revenue, increasing subscriptions with content and channels is the focus rather than who is watching and when.

Pay TV providers have also gained popularity by producing series shows, like the wildly popular Sex and the City or the more recent Game of Thrones. Since the program is exclusive to the cable network providing it, viewers must become subscribers in order to watch.

How does digital TV work?

Before digital television, Pay TV was obtained using an analog technology. This worked by using a continuously variable signal. Digital broadcasting will convert the content into a stream of binary on/off bits in sequences of 0’s and 1’s. Each bit is storing a small part of the picture, which reassembles when it reaches your television set.

The benefit of digital is that the bits recombine, creating an exact copy of what was broadcast at the source. They do not weaken over distance the way that analog signals did. This results in pictures that are always clear and free of ghosting. Plus, since it requires less bandwidth, cable TV providers are able to broadcast a larger variety of channels.

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How to get Pay TV in Australia

Subscribing to pay TV in Australia will involve signing a contract with one of the providers, paying for a set-top box to carry the service, and the installation of the wiring and box. Some now offer advanced features, like internet TV options, that will require an internet connection to access. The following is a list of the Pay TV providers in Australia along with their base price:

  • Foxtel. The basic 43 channel package costs $25 monthly.  Premium movie channels are available in upgraded packages, or you can opt for pay-per-view at approximately $5.50 per movie.
  • iiNet fetch tv. 34 channels start at $29.95 a month, but you get the benefit of being able to access Fetch TV, a service that gives you access to catch up TV channels for an additional $10 a month. With your basic iiNet package you are allowed to choose 30 movies to watch each month.
  • Optus fetch TV. Optus is similar to iiNet, except for $30 a month you only get 30 channels and 30 free movies. There connectivity to Fetch TV at $10 a month will give you access to more television shows and movies.
  • Telstra. Telstra has over 40 channels in its basic package for $25.00 monthly. You can opt for a larger package with movie channels or order them through pay-per-view for no more than $5.50 each.

You may be able to offset the cost of pay-per-view movies and other features with coupons and vouchers. Simply enter the code during check-out and your total will reflect the deduction before you enter your payment information.

With all of these cable service providers, you will receive a set-top box and remote control. All of these boxes have features that allow you to record programming and movies, including free to air TV.  You will pay for the box as a part of signing up for the service, at a cost of around $75. Installation is a separate charge and will also cost about the same.

Unlike internet TV providers like Netflix, pay TV subscriptions are by contract only. Once you sign up you are locked into the service for at least 12 months or you will have to pay a fee to cancel. This is a big difference from internet TV, where you can sign up and cancel at any time with no cost to you.

One advantage to pay TV is that many also offer residential phone and internet service as well, and you can bundle all of these services into one package. For example, iiNet’s TV bundle includes iiNet with Fletch, 100GB ADSL2 + broadband, home phone line, and the set up box. This costs $89.95 a month and comes with their entertainment plus pack as your cable package.  They also have plans that will allow you to get video streaming from Netflix without the internet TV service being subject to metering.

Frequently asked questions

The following addresses any questions about pay TV services provided in Australia:

How do I get pay TV in Australia?

How do I get pay TV in Australia?

You should start by exploring the different options in providers available to you, including the price, channels and programming offered. Once you choose a suitable provider you will need to contact them and choose the package from their selections. Installation will include hooking up the TV box to their cable line and to your television.

Can I just buy the box and install it myself?

No, a special technician is needed to connect with the server and verify that you are receiving all of the services and channels outlined in your agreement with the company.

Do I have to sign a contract for pay TV in Australia?

Yes, all providers offer contractual services only. These obligations will be for either 12 or 24 months.

Can I get internet TV if I have pay TV?

Yes, you can sign up for an internet TV provider like Netflix without interruption to your cable service.

What are considered premium channels with pay TV?

This distinction is usually held for movie channels and those that produce original content such as Showtime, HBO and Cinemax.

Will all of the HBO channels come with my package?

That depends on the provider and the package that you choose. Make sure to look carefully through the channels being offered to ensure that it includes those that are a priority to you. Once you sign the contract, you will not be able to cancel without paying a large fee.

Pay TV in Australia is an ideal way to access the shows you love and an array of the newest movies available. You have a number of options to consider both in provider and packages, so take your time and do research before obligating yourself to the service.

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