Foxtel announces HD+ and iQ2
Foxtel has unveiled details of its forthcoming HD Channels and the second generation of set top unit, now knows as the iQ2. The four “Foxtel HD+” Channels will be dominated by documentaries and sport.
They will comprise content from BBC HD, Discovery HD, National Geographic HD, FOX SPORTS HD and ESPN HD. It will launch mid year.
Foxtel also promises “Australia’s only fully integrated electronic program guide that makes searching, watching and recording the full suite of programming on offer ‘nanna-proof.'”
The new iQ2 set-top-unit, pitched as a rival to the forthcoming TiVo, features a 320GB hard disk drive* allowing subscribers to record approximately 30 hours of HD programming or 90 hours of standard definition (SD) programming.
It will also allow software upgrades for “future-proofing.”
No price or packaging details are yet available.
FOXTEL today unveiled details of its new High Definition (HD) service – which will be known as FOXTEL HD+ and revealed the initial exclusive channel line-up at launch would comprise the world’s strongest subscription television brands, namely BBC HD, Discovery HD, National Geographic HD, FOX SPORTS HD and ESPN HD, plus for the first time the introduction of blockbuster movies in HD and On Demand through FOXTEL Box Office.
FOXTEL HD+ will deliver FOXTEL subscribers a complete HD service with:
• Stunningly beautiful HD pictures and immersive surround sound +
• The introduction of the new generation iQ2, delivering incredible iQ functionality and technology +
• Four dedicated, exclusive 24/7 HD channels – the most expansive HD program offering in Australia +
• True On Demand, High Definition movies +
• Exceptional customer care, lifetime service and support
This all adds up to FOXTEL HD+ and will be the most comprehensive HD service available to Australian consumers. FOXTEL HD+ will provide the ultimate experience for subscribers with increased choice to access HD entertainment in addition to FOXTEL’s standard definition service.
It is the next step in the progressive evolution and expansion of FOXTEL which currently provides a full digital offering of more than 100 channels and interactive services, an intuitive and intelligent iQ set-top-unit with a fully integrated electronic program guide and complimentary services available on mobile and the internet.
FOXTEL Chief Executive and Managing Director Kim Williams AM said: “FOXTEL is the home of HD and we can expect consumer demand to be high. FOXTEL HD+ will deliver HD TV the way it should be. It’s about watching what you want and when you want. FOXTEL’s HD+ service will optimise viewer experience, ensure more consumer choice, and provide unequalled customer and technical support and programming for Australian viewers.
“Today marks a significant step in our HD journey. We’ve outlined the programming and channels that FOXTEL will have available at our mid-2008 launch. We’ve also released details about the new iQ2 set-top-unit and secured the world’s leading subscription television brands.
“FOXTEL has cemented its position as the leading innovator and provider of choice in television entertainment in Australia. FOXTEL HD+ will provide consumers with a complete, innovative HD solution with the best pictures and sound that is very simple to use.
“And in 2010, FOXTEL will also showcase its coverage of the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the Delhi Commonwealth Games and in 2012 the London Summer Olympics in stunning HD,” Mr Williams said.
FOXTEL HD+ will launch mid-2008 (with the official launch date to be announced shortly), along with full pricing and packaging details.
FOXTEL is also committed to expanding the FOXTEL HD+ service from as early as 2009 with the launch of a brand new satellite and access to increased cable capacity that will allow FOXTEL to provide a range of new standard definition and HD channels.
FOXTEL Executive Director of Content, Product Development and Delivery, Patrick Delany said: “High Definition is the future of television and provides viewers with a true to life experience with amazing pictures and immersive surround sound that puts you in the centre of the entertainment. If you have a HD ready plasma or LCD TV, you will just have to have FOXTEL HD+.
“FOXTEL has secured some of the biggest brand names in television for the launch of FOXTEL HD+, providing Australian consumers with the most comprehensive HD content that is available covering sport, general entertainment and documentaries.
“FOXTEL is not just dipping its toe in the HD pond, we are immersing ourselves by delivering Australian viewers four, 24 /7 HD channels of some of the greatest television brand names who are the leaders in HD content and delivery.
“To have BBC HD, Discovery HD, National Geographic HD, FOX SPORTS HD and ESPN HD on board for our launch will deliver a truly fantastic high definition experience for our subscribers with thousands of hours of must see HD programming.
“In addition our subscribers will have access to the latest FOXTEL Box Office movies in HD and for the first time available On Demand, meaning they are ready to watch instantly with a 48-hour viewing window,” Mr Delany said.
FOXTEL HD+ THE FULL PICTURE
FOXTEL HD+ Pictures and Sound
With stunningly beautiful pictures and immersive surround sound, FOXTEL HD+ will support both 720p and 1080i HD formats, so viewers can enjoy their favourite programs the way the program makers intended. Images are nothing without sound surrounding you to feel like you are part of the action. FOXTEL HD+ means playback of all HD programs created with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound will be heard from all over the room.
This amazing HD entertainment experience is bound together by a new version of Australia’s only fully integrated electronic program guide that makes searching, watching and recording the full suite of programming on offer “nanna-proof”.
FOXTEL HD+ powered by iQ2
This unrivalled FOXTEL HD+ service will be delivered via the new High Definition FOXTEL iQ2. A stylish, liquid-black set-top-unit, iQ2 provides subscribers with all of the intuitive functionality of FOXTEL’s existing iQ service including the freedom to pause and rewind live TV, and automatically record favourite shows using the Series Link function that means you never miss an episode.
The new FOXTEL iQ2 set-top-unit is armed with a massive 320GB hard disk drive* allowing more space to record shows in High Definition and comes with a HDMI connection.
Subscribers will be able to record approximately 30 hours of HD programming or 90 hours of standard definition (SD) programming. The number of hours recorded will depend on the mix between HD and SD as well as the mix between channel genres.
iQ2 subscribers will also be able to use FOXTEL’s Online Guide through the internet or use a 3G mobile phone to set up the Remote Record functionality to record their favourite programs.
The iQ2 is also future proofed with FOXTEL able to provide software updates to the unit enabling subscribers to access the latest functionality and new technology over time.
*Part of the 320GB will be used to deliver the FOXTEL Box Office HD On Demand Movie service.
FOXTEL HD+ Channels and On Demand Movies
At launch FOXTEL HD+ will offer subscribers four dedicated, 24/7 HD channels, plus FOXTEL Box Office HD movies On Demand.
BBC HD will be a multi-genre general entertainment channel offering the best international HD content and a line-up of multi award-winning productions from a broad range of programming genres. This will be the ultimate TV experience that allows you to totally immerse yourself in the program creating a feast for your senses. BBC HD will be displayed in 1080i and is a multi-genre channel built around these three key genres: General Entertainment, Music and Arts and Factual.
Discovery HD showcases a compelling mix of original factual and lifestyle HD programming from the Discovery Networks vast range of channels worldwide. Discovery HD programs will be broadcast in 1080i format and bring audiences even closer to their world with breathtaking imagery and expansive detail, featuring programming on the wonders of the world, ranging from culture, science and natural history, to travel and lifestyle themes.^
National Geographic HD is the number one destination for animals, nature, science, history and cultures now to be explored in HD. HD TV takes viewers to the edge and back as National Geographic Channel’s sound and picture quality reaching a new level. Your favourite shows will look so real displayed in 1080i, it’s easy to forget you’re watching television.^
^ Discovery HD and National Geographic HD programming will air as dedicated branded programming blocks on a single documentary channel as part of the FOXTEL HD+ service.
FOX SPORTS HD demonstrates FOX SPORTS’ ongoing commitment to providing Australian sports fans with the highest quality of sports coverage. FOX SPORTS HD will deliver key local content, including live coverage of selected AFL, NRL, Rugby Union Internationals, Domestic Cricket, The A-League and Socceroos as well as HD coverage of international events and many of FOX SPORTS’ popular magazine programs.
ESPN HD offers the big picture in sport so viewers can feel the intense competition and touch the action with ESPN HD. As the leader in international sports coverage, ESPN HD will feature a variety of HD telecasts in its first year with all programming delivered in the 720p HD format – great for fast moving images on screen.
FOXTEL Box Office HD offers subscribers a range of pay-per-view movies in HD that are available On Demand, meaning they can be watched instantly – press play and the entertainment starts.
Pay-per-view movies in FOXTEL Box Office HD are Australian television premieres and will be broadcast in widescreen, 1080i HD with Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Subscribers will have access to previews On Demand, the movies will have full iQ functionality (fast forward, rewind and pause) and will come with a 48-hour viewing window from the time of purchase. Pricing for FOXTEL Box Office HD movies is yet to be released.
FOXTEL HD + Customer Care
FOXTEL’s customer service includes installation of the FOXTEL HD+ service, connecting and tuning the iQ2 into a HD ready TV, and providing lifetime warranty on the set-top-unit, as well as ongoing service and support for subscribers through FOXTEL’s Customer Call Centre.
Additionally, the iQ2 set-top-unit is future-proofed with subscribers benefiting from regular software updates which provide upgraded features for iQ2 and FOXTEL HD+ service.
For more information about HD, FOXTEL HD+ and the iQ2, visit www.foxtel.com.au/hd
• As at June 30, 2007 FOXTEL now provides services to 1.443 million subscriber homes. FOXTEL’s direct subscriber growth was 13.1% for the year to June 07, compared with 10% the previous year.
• FOXTEL’s national penetration has grown to over 28%^^ (in marketable households) with close to 40% penetration in the key Sydney market.
• Over 20% of FOXTEL’s direct digital subscriber base now enjoy the FOXTEL iQ, up from 10% at 30 June 2006. The iQ sell-in rates are higher than 40%.
• A recent study showed 90% of FOXTEL subscribers were “happy” with their iQ.
• The study also showed just over 25% of FOXTEL subscribers owned a TV which is HD compatible.*
• FOXTEL became 100% Digital in early 2007, less than three years after the launch of the FOXTEL Digital platform in March, 2004.
• FOXTEL’s EBITDA increased 40% to $237m in the year to June 07. Net profit (before tax and refinancing charges but after depreciation and interest and including joint ventures) increased from $4m to $76m.
• FOXTEL enjoys record levels of viewing share. Across calendar 2007 the average share of viewing to subscription television in subscription television homes was 60.2.
* Newspoll Omnibus consumer survey conducted for FOXTEL from 18-21 June 2007 in five capital cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) with 193 subscription television customers and 508 non subscribers, and total sample size of 701.
^^ Marketable households calculated in August 2007 as: ABS Census 2006 Occupied Households within the FOXTEL Footprint with an assumed annual growth rate applied and multiplied by 93% to represent FOXTEL Marketable households.
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