Foxtel's unlikely deal with rival brings big changes

If you can’t beat them, join them.

That seems to be the approach taken by Australia’s legacy Pay TV provider Foxtel which confirmed a partnership with streaming giant Netflix on Wednesday.

Foxtel is offering customers a new-look service with Netflix integration – and a Netflix button on the Foxtel remote – as part of a raft of changes coming to its services.

The update includes a revamp of the user interface, which will now include a Netflix carousel that will allow users to seamlessly scroll between Netflix content and Foxtel’s own on demand library to select something to watch.

The company is touting updates to the remote, including haptic censors and bluetooth support.

Along with a ‘sport’, ‘tv shows’ and ‘movies’ button, the new Netflix button on the remote will immediately launch the app to go directly to the streaming service.

Foxtel is also promising to bring voice recognition capabilities to its remote control meaning you can give it voice commands like “search Tom Cruise movies”, however there is no firm commitment as to when this feature will be available.

The new-look Foxtel remote. Source: supplied

The new changes only apply to full paying Foxtel customers as the Netflix app is still not available on Foxtel Now streaming set-top boxes.

The SBS On Demand app will also be incorporated into Foxtel’s platform in the coming months.

“I can’t think of a better streaming partner to kick off The New Foxtel Experience than Netflix,” Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany said in a statement.

“The new customer interface puts two entertainment powerhouses together providing Foxtel customers with access to the Netflix service alongside our Foxtel Originals and programs from HBO, FX, the BBC and more.”

Foxtel customers who sign up to the sports and drama package at about $58 a month will also get free Netflix access for six months.

Does Foxtel think Netflix can save it? Source: Supplied

Tough times continue for Foxtel

Foxtel, which is joint owned by News Corp Australia and Telstra, is desperately fighting for survival in the face of stiff competition from streaming giants like Netflix and Stan, as well as tech companies and telcos looking to compete on sports broadcasting rights.

The company lost $417 million before income tax expenses for the 2018 calendar year.

Despite the need for the company to raise revenue, and execs recently signalling the potential of price increases for certain tiers, a number of Foxtel customers who have threatened to cancel the service have reported getting offers of steep discounts from the pay TV provider.

Foxtel customers do not need to do anything to get the new user interface, the company said. Software updates will be managed remotely over the coming months to those with the requisite iQ boxes.

It will be progressively rolled out to iQ4 customers starting today and is expected to be complete in August. The iQ3 roll out will begin in September with all iQ3 customers expected to have the upgrade during November.

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