Foxtel trials IPTV service

Foxtel trials IPTV service

Pay-TV giant, Foxtel, will begin a trial of downloadable, on-demand television services over the Internet this month.

The Foxtel-by-broadband trial, offered to 50 Foxtel staff and 150 existing subscribers, will see a select range of movie and television programming made available on-demand via Internet download.

"It might be episodes of a popular drama, it might be the whole series - it's up to the [individual] channel to decide," a Foxtel spokesperson said.

The content will be offered free-of-charge provided the viewer already subscribes to that channel on their standard Foxtel service. A minimum broadband connection speed is required of 550Mbps. The trial was being conducted, the company said, to test technical and commercial aspects of the broadband download service.

Foxtel-by-broadband would bridge the gap between the standard Pay-TV services available to subscribers now and the on-demand services the company would offer via its next-generation iQ box released in February, the spokesperson said.

The new 'iQ' box features a partitioned drive capable of holding up to 12 hours of content which Foxtel will push out for on-demand consumption.

The company's interest in on-demand programming follows similar moves by its joint-venture shareholder, Telstra, as well as ASX-listed start-up, Reeltime.

In February, Telstra launched on-demand video services - offering a limited range of movies and television shows via Internet download, available for viewing for a specified amount of hours. Last month, Reeltime upped the ante, offering a wider variety of television and movie content wrapped in Digital Rights Management (DRM) protection that allows the content to be ripped to a DVD or external device.

Both services have been criticised for exhaustingly long download times.

The DRM scheme chosen for Foxtel's IPTV trial has its own shortcomings - the content can only be viewed on the device it is downloaded to (for example, the PC).

It couldn't be streamed to other screens around the home, the spokesperson said.

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