View Finder: Now is the time for a better Foxtel streaming offering

Nick Broughall 9 June 2017 NEWS

foxtel puck ui

Will Foxtel Now do enough to keep Foxtel relevant in a streaming world? It just might.

This week Foxtel went through the biggest rebrand in the history of the company. There's a shiny new lowercase logo, a fancy new ad campaign, and best of all, an updated streaming service to replace Foxtel Play.

Dubbed Foxtel Now, the new platform has launched on the web and mobile apps this week, and in the launch Foxtel has managed to address a number of the key issues customers had with the Play platform.

Foxtel Play's issue was never its library of content, which thanks to the Foxtel deals in place was always pretty good. The issue wasn't even price, despite the fact that with its breakdown of channel pack options, Foxtel Play is easily more expensive than Netflix and Stan.

No, the biggest issue with Foxtel Play has always been one of reliability, experience and quality.

Don't fear the premium content

It's one thing to offer a premium priced product and expect users to pay for it, but when Netflix and Stan launched with HD (and even 4K) quality streaming, paying more for the standard definition Foxtel Play streams felt unjustified.

Similarly, the Play user experience was buggy and regularly crashed. The Internet is filled with stories of people signing up to Play to watch Game of Thrones, only to give up and pirate the show when the platform failed them.

But from the early impressions I've had with Foxtel Now, a lot of those issues have been addressed.

To be clear, the platform costs exactly the same as Foxtel Play did. The cheapest pack is still $10 a month, while $15 will get you a pack with Showtime for your HBO fix.

Better than before

But the quality has been boosted: You can now stream Foxtel Play in HD. It may only be 720p, but for mobile devices that is enough, while big screens tend to do a pretty good job of upscaling 720p to 1080p (or 4K, if your TV can handle it). Foxtel did casually mention that 4K is on the roadmap, but we'll have to wait and see just how far along the roadmap that update actually is.

The other main challenge with Play was the user interface. Now has taken a refreshed approach that, on first impressions at least, seems to be a much more intuitive experience.

But the thing I like most about the new and improved Foxtel Now is that you can watch it on the big screen through a Chromecast. Google's Chromecast is cheap and versatile, and introducing Chromecast support means your Foxtel Now account can now be watched on pretty much any TV with an HDMI port. For sports lovers, that's an incredibly powerful prospect, as a sports pack on Now will let them watch on their phone, PC or TV through Chromecast, depending on where they are.

We're still a long way from Foxtel Now convincing people not to sign up to Netflix, but as a step towards a more user-friendly product, it's definitely a big one.

Trailer of the week: Gypsy

Naomi Watts looks like she's going to shine in this new trailer for Gypsy, her upcoming Netflix show landing on 30 June.

Meanwhile, over on Stan, get ready for the fourth season of Younger with this shiny new trailer.

Each week, View Finder rounds up the latest news in TV and movie streaming in Australia.

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