Fetch TV doubles down with two new set top boxes

Internet television service Fetch TV is quite literally doubling down on hardware with today's launch of two new set top boxes: the Fetch TV Mighty and the Fetch TV Mini.

The Mighty is Fetch TV's new hero product, and the successor to 2014's second generation Fetch TV PVR. Once again, Fetch has kitted out the Mighty with 1TB of internal storage, which will allow users to record almost 600 hours of standard definition content. Users are able to record up to six channels at once, while watching a seventh.

In addition to access to Fetch TV's premium television service (billed at AUD$15 per month, including channels such as Syfy, Disney, BBC World News, and Spike), the Mighty also has Netflix, Stan, Presto, and the majority of Australia's catch-up TV apps built in (Nine is missing at the moment, but is coming soon).

Mighty's big new feature is 4K playback. At present, Netflix is the only source for 4K content through Fetch. However, when combined with support for the HEVC H.265 codec, Fetch TV CEO Scott Lorson says viewers will be able to comfortable stream 4K video through Netflix with internet speeds of just 15.5Mbps. Netflix typically recommends speeds of at least 25Mbps for streaming 4K video.

On the other hand, the Mini eschews the PVR features Fetch TV has become known for, and is instead designed to take on the likes of Apple TV, Telstra TV, and Chromecast in the fight for HDMI1. While the Mini isn't able to record video, it still has a single tuner, allowing viewers to go between free-to-air, SVOD, and on-demand content without switching input or remote.

"Australian consumers have embraced the rapid expansion in entertainment options, as evidenced by the explosive take up of the SVOD services," Lorson told CyberShack. "What they are now clearly looking for now is a convenient way to bring all these services together, or put simply one remote, one interface."

The Mini will also provide Fetch TV users with a multi-room solution via software update later this year. Once enabled, the Mini will be able to remotely schedule recordings on a paired Mighty, and stream recorded content.

Both the Mighty and Mini can directly connect to a wireless network. The last generation Fetch TV could only connect via ethernet, or through the use of a W-Fi bridge. 

Fetch will also continue selling and renting TV shows and movies through its own store front. An upcoming update for its mobile and tablet app will allow users to download content purchased through the Fetch store for offline playback on their portable devices.

Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi will be selling the boxes outright as of this week, at asking price of AUD$399 for the Mighty, and AUD$149 for the Mini. Customers will need to pay an AUD$1 setup fee to activate their box.

While both boxes will be on sale outright through traditional retailers, Lorson says that 95% of existing Fetch TV customers are receiving the service as part of a bundle through a telco such as Optus, Dodo or iiNet.

"Pay TV penetration has been static for the past 10 years, as the market for a high priced offering has matured," said Lorson. "The next wave of growth will be driven by bundling rather than standalone purchase, or as we say in industry speak, push not pull. This is clearly evident in our dramatic growth over the past 18 months, with over 95% of our subscribers receiving their Fetch TV service as part of a telco bundle."

"The challenge for telcos is that access services are being commoditised. Telcos have responded using bundling to drive both acquisition and reduce churn."

Because of this, Lorson says that entertainment options such as Fetch have quickly become a "hero proposition", appealing to both telcos and subscribers. Optus is already offering subscribers both the Mighty and the Mini. Other telcos are expected start ranging the new devices later this month.

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