Telcos Shun TV Streaming To Gaming Consoles

By Branko Miletic

  • Big Telcos not onboard for unmetered TV content
  • Telstra “working” on content deal with Foxtel
  • Smaller Telcos coming to the party

The recent announcement by Foxtel that it has partnered up with Microsoft to offer streaming movies over the Xbox gaming console marks another small, yet important milestone, in the ever-increasing war between content providers and telco’s for both consumer eyeballs and time.

However what this also shows is that regardless of what both technological capabilities and economic wishful thinking some telco’s may have, delivering free and unmetered content is way down on their ‘to do’ lists.

To be fair, some smaller telco’s, like Internode and iiNet have been offering unmetered content such as gaming for a while now and as an Internode spokesperson explained to CBN Media, this will more and more become the norm across the board.

“Intermode has been doing a lot unmetering, including gaming, TiVo and data,” said Internode’s external PR John Harris. “Since data caps are going up and up and most Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) have improved, the issue of unmetered content is not such a big deal anymore.”

That is of course not true for all telco’s. According to Telstra spokesperson, Peter Taylor, Australia’s biggest telco is “currently working with Foxtel for a similar content delivery system across the T-Box”.

Note the terms “currently working” and “similar content”. In other words, Telstra has no plans for at least the rest of this year to do anything that is in the same vein as the Foxtel-Xbox deal. Also note that the word ‘unmetered’ is nowhere to be seen in the Telstra lexicon.

Ironically, in an age when media companies big and small are all trying to capture market share with various content deals as well as CDN’s, our biggest telcos seem to be cold on the idea.

Could it be that weaning themselves off their lucrative and almost decadent monthly data metering plans would mean reducing their ‘rivers of gold’? Or is it that instead of offering new and unique entertainment packages is a hard ask when you have marketing departments that are beholden to CFO’s whose main role is to make money simply by saving money?

For their part, Foxtel, which to make matters even more confusing is actually 50 percent owned by Telstra, is certainly not shy when spruiking their new Xbox service.

According to Foxtel Chief Executive and Managing Director, Kim Williams, “Foxtel on Xbox 360 offers a new and convenient way to get Foxtel without a set-top-box and over the internet, which is one part of our overall internet television strategy”.

“We are innovating in the packaging and delivery of Foxtel expanding across multiple devices to provide customers with more ways to enjoy television programming, sport and movies. With the addition of the Foxtel on Xbox 360 Internet TV service Foxtel is at the forefront on entertainment technology and will now offer Australians mobile, HD, 3D and Internet TV.”

Another Foxtel spokesperson, who did not want to be named, noted that whilst there is nothing technically stopping ISPs offering this type of unmetered deal to their customers, the company is not exactly being flooded with offer from ISPs.

“Foxtel on Xbox 360 will be available over any internet service provider (ISP). Currently we do not have unmetered arrangements in place with any ISPs for the Foxtel on Xbox 360 service. Our view is that the market is driving lower priced plans and higher caps. It will continue to evolve as the price for bandwidth continues to decline for consumers,” the Foxtel spokesperson said.

And Microsoft also seems as happy as the proverbial pig in swill with the Xbox movie streaming deal.

According to David McLean, Managing Director of Xbox Australia, “Besides access to great content, users will no longer need to wait until the following day to discuss their favourite shows. With Xbox Live, you can see what your friends are watching, watch together or even voice chat without ever leaving the experience. Foxtel on Xbox 360 will bring interactive entertainment to a whole new level for Australians.”

As for Australia’s largest telcos- their silence on the issue is deafening.