Foxtel's Olympics tablet app - a taste of things to come?
By Adam TURNER
Foxtel's iPad and Android apps put London 2012 at your fingertips, but only if you're prepared to pay for a full Foxtel subscription.
If you're lucky enough to have access to Foxtel's eight-channel coverage from London you'll appreciate just how painful Nine's eclectic free-to-air coverage really is. But as if Foxtel subscribers weren't spoilt enough, they also get free access to Foxtel's impressive London 2012 Olympic Games app for the iPad and for Android.
Foxtel's London 20120 Olympic app gives full Foxtel subscribers free access to all eight of Foxtel's live Olympic channels, streamed over the internet on roughly a 30-second delay with fairly good picture quality. Unfortunately the iPad app won't let you stream the video to your television via an Apple TV, you can only stream the audio.
The Foxtel app is free for Foxtel subscribers. If you're not a Foxtel subscriber you've the option to pay $50 to access these eight live Foxtel channels on the Xbox 360 or Samsung Smart TV (but unfortunately not the T-Box). This will obviously suit people who don't want to pay for an ongoing Foxtel service (although they lose the ability to timeshift). But the extra bonus for full Foxtel subscribers is that the tablet app also makes it easy to browse through the highlights to catch up on the events you've missed. You can even skip through the sessions to jump to specific events, making it easy to find what you're looking for rather than letting a program director make decisions for you.
Australians can also watch some Olympic clips for free via NineMSN's London 2012 Catch Up service and surprisingly the video will play on the iPad as well as Android, although the picture isn't nearly as crisp as the Foxtel app. The real disappointment with NineMSN's Catch Up service is that you seem to be limited to whatever was screened by Nine. So you generally get snippets, often restricted to the Australians and just the final winning moments, whereas the Foxtel app will show you entire sessions.
Considering the limitations of Nine's disappointing coverage and Catch Up service, I'm sure there are plenty of Australians who would happily hand over their cash to access the Foxtel Olympics app -- if it weren't for the need to sign up for a full Foxtel service. Obviously Foxtel needs to sign up as many full subscribers as possible to cover the cost of the hosting rights, but it will be under extra pressure to be more flexible once the Rio 2016 Olympics roll around.
With the boom in mobile devices, major content providers will start to bypass old world gatekeepers like Foxtel and go directly to end viewers. We've already seen the AFL bypass Foxtel to offer live pay-per-view football matches directly to Telstra mobile customers. The IOC could get similar ideas if Foxtel doesn't become a little more flexible. By 2016 a third of Australian homes will have access to the NBN and practically all of them will have a tablet. If Foxtel doesn't give the people what they want, someone else will.
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Thanks, but No thanks.
What I really want to know is when will this be available for all channels over wifi