Foxtel Hubbl update – the black box and TV in detail (AV)

Foxtel Hubbl update: Hubbl is from Sky/Comcast that provides a turn-key solution to Telcos, OTT and VOD operators like Foxtel. It is not a Foxtel invention but customised for its market.

Foxtel will use Hubbl-branded Sky Glass TV and Sky Stream (box). It removes the need for disparate set-top boxes and cable or satellite services. In the UK, the TV and box are available on a monthly subscription – we assume so here. It is an 18-month rolling contract, and the puck or TV must be returned if the service is cancelled.

Sky Stream ‘puck’

It is a 108 square x 18cm black box. It has an HDMI 2.1 port (TV), Ethernet (Router), Wi-Fi (router) and main power port.

You can have up to six pucks in the home – every connected screen requires one (that includes game consoles, TVs, monitors, etc).

Each puck requires NBN speeds of 25/30Mbps if you watch SDR/4K HDR. Multiple pucks increase bandwidth requirements.

It has a voice-controlled IR remote control. It is locked to your home IP address and likely will have a limited browser/Android/iOS app for viewing outside the home.

Sky Glass ‘TV’

As it does not have a tuner (all content is internet-delivered), it can work on all TV regional formats (PAL/NTSC, etc). It is, in effect, a large back-lit FALD Quantum Dot monitor (not a TV) with a Sky Stream puck inside. Ports are limited to 3 x HDMI 2.1 (one eARC) and a USB-C 5V/3A/15W, presumably for recording storage.

It comes in 42, 55 and 65” in various frame colours. It has 3.1.2 (six speakers) and can decode and downmix Dolby Atmos (if you pay the extra subscription).

Streaming services

We are unsure of the actual services in the puck, but you can be sure it is all the major digital TV and streaming services that Foxtel offers. There will be different price packages for SDR and UHD/Dolby Vision/Atmos, and Netflix remains two-tiered. If Foxtel does not provide the streaming channel, it will not be available on the puck.

It offers Ad-skipping (fast forward adverts when watching shows), so it serves advertisements from various services.

CyberShack’s view – Foxtel Hubbl update – it is just another streaming box

We broke the story Foxtel Hubbl – search saviour or sinner? (updated) and details were extremely scarce. We have tracked down the product source. Foxtel Hubbl, launched with the usual Foxtel flair, is really nothing more than a subscription-based streaming box or monitor. It is not some magic, new, epoch-making device.

Foxtel objects to us using the term spyware even though Hubbl will know all your viewing data. Our response was, “There is nothing wrong with data harvesting if there is full disclosure – who/what/when/where/why before purchase, allowing knowledgeable user consent – otherwise, it is spyware. Australia’s lax privacy legislation has a long way to go and is no excuse for non-disclosure.

Whether the subscription model takes off or cannibalises existing Foxtel IQ services depends on how well it is marketed and what it costs. And if it offers any better features than smart TVs or dongles.

One thing is for sure – it won’t have every streaming service, probably just Foxtel ones, and Foxtel’s electronic program guide does a pretty good job aggregating them for easy access.

It will impact advertising data revenue streams to the Free to Air channels, TV makers, set-top boxes and dongle makers.