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Foxtel Now review: Better off with Binge
Sadly, Foxtel Now is not worth its premium price.
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What is Foxtel Now?
Foxtel Now is a subscription-based video-on-demand service from Aussie media giant Foxtel. Launched in 2013 under the name Foxtel Play, Foxtel’s streaming app has chopped and changed over the years with significant pricing overhauls and slight UI improvements but throughout it all, one thing has remained true: whatever you call it, Foxtel Now, Foxtel Play, Foxtel App or Foxtel Go, the streaming app alternative to the cable provider’s exorbitant plans has always been a bit of a buffer-happy contender in Australia’s streaming service showdown.
While alternative streaming services (like Netflix and Stan) have continued to evolve over the years, offering hearty 4K catalogues and generous plan pricing, Foxtel Now has turned into an unrecognisable product with less to offer than its competition to justify the cost of admission. For years, Foxtel has depended primarily on two things: HBO content (like Game of Thrones) and its comprehensive sports coverage. But with Binge taking over on the HBO front and Kayo Sports running laps around the competition, is Foxtel Now still worth the premium price?
Foxtel Now packages
For years, premium HBO series like Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies and Westworld were Foxtel’s sharpest swords in the battle for your eyeballs for a long time now. However, now that you can get most of the same content on its far cheaper sister service Binge, Foxtel Now has lost its biggest selling point, making its traditional pay-TV package pricing far less desirable.
Yep, that’s right – you’ll pay more without necessarily getting more, because Foxtel Now’s content is divided into four different packs.
This $25 per month package is the cheapest way to get Foxtel Now beyond its free trial period. It includes 32 channels, including Fox Showcase, Fox8, MTV, Arena, Fox Funny, Fox Comedy, Box Sets, Foxtel Arts, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Food, E! and TLC. The rest of those 32 channels are dedicated to news and music. Unfortunately, even if you think you’ll watch the programs offered by these channels or not, you’re stuck with it. The Essentials pack is, quite literally, essential if you want to sign up to Foxtel Now. Just want sport? Nope, you’ll have to pay for both Sport AND Essentials.
Speaking of sports, the Foxtel Now Sport package was once the service’s biggest drawcard, offering 12 dedicated 24/7 sport channels, including Fox Sports, Fox League, Fox Footy, Fox Cricket, ESPN and beIN SPORTS. It’ll cost you an extra $29 per month on top of the $25 you have to pay for the Essentials pack, so it’s worth considering if Kayo (available for either $25 or $35 per month, depending on number of streams) better suits you.
For an added $20 on top of the Essentials pack, you can get access to 11 dedicated movie channels – all ad-break free. Again, that $20 asking price seems a little steep when most of the movies on offer can be watched on Binge for as little as $10 per month (or free with a two-week trial), but hey, you do you.
The final Foxtel Now package on offer is the Drama Extra pack, a more palatably priced $10 per month on top of Essentials that comes with 7 additional drama channels, including BBC First, UKTV, Fox Crime, Universal and Fox One. That includes complete seasons of classics like Sex and the City and new favourites like The Flight Attendant.
Once again, most of the premium drama from HBO is available on Binge. But if it's the BBC and UKTV you're after, there's a new dedicated streaming service for British telly known as Britbox, which costs $8.99 per month and has a 7-day free trial.
For the hefty sum of $104 per month, you can get access to all of the above packs, along with exclusive packs like Kids and Docos. Yes, it’s a lot, and no, it’s not good value, but for those who want access to live pay-TV and tons of content on demand, it might be worth it. For everyone else, save your money.
Foxtel Now plans and pricing
As we mentioned above, Foxtel Now’s minimum monthly price is $25 per month. That will get you a good deal of Foxtel’s most popular content, including Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. But if you’re looking for the full suite of channels, you will pay up to $104 per month. Here’s a breakdown of Foxtel Now’s pricing.
|Essentials (Pop and Lifestyle)*||$25|
|Drama Extra||$10 add-on|
|All packs (including Kids and Docos)||$104|
* To gain access to any Foxtel Now package besides Essentials, you will still need to pay the $25 per month for the Essentials pack, regardless of whether or not you use it
For the sake of comparison, Netflix’s highest plan will cost you $17.99 per month, giving you 4K/UHD streaming and four concurrent streams. Stan will cost you a little less at $17 per month for 4K/UHD, four concurrent streams and offline viewing on five phones or tablets. Prime Video’s Australian offering is priced at a reasonable $6.99 per month. Sure, none of these services have the latest shows from HBO but they’ve got their own award-winning lineup of TV shows, including Prime Video’s The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Netflix’s Bojack Horseman and Stan has the rights to classics like Hannibal. When it comes to premium drama, Foxtel isn’t much without HBO and FX.
Here’s a brief overview of our streaming service round-up so you can get an idea of how Foxtel Now’s pricing and content highlights stack up.
Max. Video Resolution
# of streams
|View Plans|| ||$6.99||4K||3||30-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$10.99 - $19.99||4K||4||No deals available|
|View Plans|| ||$7.99||4K||6||7-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$11.99||4K||4||Save over 15% with annual subscription|
|View Plans|| ||$6.99||HD||1||7-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$6.99||HD||1||7-day free tiral|
|View Plans|| ||$8.99||HD||3||7-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$8.99||HD||5||7-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$10 - $18||HD||4||2-week free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$10 - $19||4K||4||30-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$25 - $104||HD||2||10-day free trial|
|View Plans|| ||$25 - $35||HD||3||2-week free trial|
How does Foxtel Now work?
Foxtel Now offers the same content as Foxtel without the need for a set-top box or monthly contract. It was launched to compete on the same stage as the immensely popular U.S. punter Netflix and Australia’s own local streaming champion, Stan. As such, it delivers a similar on-demand streaming experience.
TV shows and movies from Foxtel’s suite of channels can be watched any time on-demand or live at the same time as the rest of Australia for scheduled broadcasts. It is a standalone service that doesn’t require a traditional Foxtel subscription to use, unlike Foxtel’s companion app Foxtel GO, which is free for Foxtel cable and satellite subscribers.
The appeal of any streaming service is the on-demand content library and the number of devices compatible with the service. Foxtel Now, for example, is available on iPhone, iPad, Android phones and tablets, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, Chromecast, various Smart TVs and Xbox One… well, kind of. Confusingly, the ‘Foxtel Now’ app is still called ‘Foxtel Play’ on Xbox One and Xbox 360. Even though the service has been officially named Foxtel Now since June 2017.
While Foxtel Now offers more or less the same content library as Foxtel, there are a few key features that are held back (otherwise, why would you buy a Foxtel subscription?). Firstly, if you’re the type to record live broadcasts, there are no digital video recorder (DVR) devices compatible with Foxtel Now. That’s exclusive to Foxtel subscribers who purchase the Foxtel iQ box. There is a proprietary Foxtel Now box but it doesn’t have any DVR features and is more akin to something like Apple TV or Telstra TV. The same goes for 4K streaming. Ultra high-definition (UHD) or 4K streaming isn’t available on Foxtel Now at all, the most you can hope for is HD, but the service’s adaptive bit-rate streaming and Australia’s sub-par broadband speeds mean you can only get the quality your broadband speed allows for.
Your broadband speed needs to be, at least, 7Mbps to watch Foxtel Now in high-definition (HD) and 3Mbps for standard-definition (SD). On-demand content can be streamed in 1080p with a steady 7Mbps connection but live television will cap at 720p.
Not sure how fast your broadband speed is? Head over to our internet speed test tool to find out. It’s also worth mentioning that only select titles, channels and devices will stream Foxtel Now in HD. Foxtel’s website has more information on HD-compatible devices and channels.
If your internet plan is struggling to keep up with your binge-watching ways, here are a few of the most popular NBN 100 plans that could speed things up.
How many devices does Foxtel Now let you stream?
Technically, you can stream Foxtel Now on up to five devices simultaneously. That’s more than Netflix or Stan but it also comes with a bit of extra red tape.
With Netflix or Stan, you can log into as many devices as you like. If you exceed the device limit, somebody will get booted. Foxtel, on the other hand, makes you “register” each device. When you register your device limit, you are asked to select a device to deregister. Once de-registered, that account will need to sign in all over again.
This isn’t much of an issue for most and the extra level of device management can be extra handy if you gave your neighbour Dave your login details one night after a few wines but it becomes a little annoying for large households; especially for parents who don’t share the password with their ankle-biters.
Are there Foxtel Now and broadband bundles?
Unfortunately, no. If Foxtel could cover some (or all) of the cost for a Foxtel Now account with an appetising broadband bundle, you could easily justify a subscription. It’s strange that there are no bundles for Foxtel Now available considering Foxtel itself offers broadband plans.
If you’re looking to bundle a traditional Foxtel subscription, you can do so via Foxtel Broadband. Still, it’s not the best value Internet and TV bundle out there – while it’s not a traditional pay-TV broadband bundle, Telstra is currently offering a free three-month Binge subscription to new NBN customers.
How to cancel Foxtel Now
If you’re looking to go scorched earth on Foxtel's streaming app, cancelling Foxtel Now couldn't be easier. Simply head over to your account page with your login details and click the “Deactivate service” button. You will then be directed to another page where you will be asked to fill out a form before unsubscribing. Once you’ve filled out the form, hit the deactivate button. There, you’ve successfully saved yourself $25 per month (minimum).
If something does catch your eye and you’d like to resume your Foxtel Now subscription you can do so with the click of a button on your account page (to save going through the whole sign-up process again). If you’d like to completely close your account with Foxtel, you will have to call customer service on 13 19 99.