Australians now have yet another way to watch IPTV: on Samsung (OTC: SSNLF.PK) Smart TVs via the Foxtel pay-TV subscription service. The Smart TV option joins the Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Xbox 360 which has already been made available on a national basis, as methods by which to access Internet TV both within and outside Foxtel cable areas.
There are limitations to a Smart TV connection. Users will only be able to watch 30 or so channels of Foxtel TV lineup and it's unlikely they will have features such as pause, rewind or access Catch Up or On Demand services, all of which are available through Foxtel's IQ and IQ2 set-top boxes. Other access devices, including a Telstra T-Box can pause and rewind on demand channels but can't pause, rewind or record live Foxtel channels.
The Xbox 360 allows users to control channels by Kinect as well as access IPTV and, like the Telstra devices, can pause and rewind on-demand and Catch UP TV but not record. There is also no pause, rewind or record of live Foxtel channels via the Xbox.
Samsung Australia's Evan Manolis told inEntertainment's Alex Zaharaov-Reutt that the TVs give consumers "easy access to a wide range of content all from the comfort of the lounge room" and that Samsung Smart TV aps "are accessed over half a million times each month."
Jim Rudder, Foxtels's product distributor, added that the Smart TV capabilities are "part of a plan to broaden our distribution through other platforms and is an opportunity to reach more people."
Many of those people reside outside Foxtel cable areas so "some people … will simply be happy that their shiny new Samsung Smart TV finally has an additional set of cool new IPTV Foxtel channels to subscribe to," Zaharaov-Reutt wrote. "And there's an important point—obviously Foxtel on Internet TV isn't free--but just as with Foxtel on T-Box and Xbox 360, there's no multi-year contract--it's a month-by-month proposition."
It's all about the IPTV, Rudder continued, noting that Samsung is only the first of "other new and exciting announcements along these lines in the months to come."
"As the quality of the TV experience over broadband has improved, people have become more willing to consume content in different ways and as such it presents a great opportunity to distribute our programs that wasn't previously there," Rudder said.
Price-wise, a standard Foxtel Internet package starts at $19.50 a month. sports channels tack on another $10. Showtime's $15 and "entertainment" channels can be had for an additional $15. The service provider is offering a special $50 all-inclusive package for eight London 2012 Olympics channels.
- see this iTWire story
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