Foxtel to launch new web portal

Foxtel has launched a new web portal to allow users to watch teasers, get recommendations and information, manage accounts and view a 14-day program guide.

It is the first in a series of changes as Foxtel plans to launch its major renovation in October, with more content to become available.

“(This) is the first in a sequence of announcements about the direction and innovation of our product in the course of the next year,” Foxtel boss Kim Williams said today.

“It’s a remarkably exciting time for all of us at Foxtel as we’ll probably make as many innovations to the product over the course of the next 12 months as we’ve made in the entire history of Foxtel to date.”

The launch is part of a bigger plan to increase the number of Foxtel's channels from 150 to 170 in the later part of the year.

Mr Williams said Foxtel hoped to service existing customers and entice new ones with the website.

“We’ve got some pretty sexy approaches to the way in which you can find content that will delight you and access it pretty easily,” Mr Williams said.

He would not give exact figures but said hundreds of thousands of customers used the site, and he expected it to grow.

Executive director of sales and product development Patrick Delany said it was easy to use.

“Foxtel’s new site brings TV to the net,” he said.

“We’ve taken a huge amount of video clips and promos and put them online to watch at any time.”

Mr Williams and Mr Delany hit out at digital video recorder TiVo, a rival player to Foxtel’s IQ device.

“We are well ahead of TiVo,” Mr Williams said.

Foxtel said that the new web site will not contain services such as Pizza or Blockbuster movie services similar to what is currently being offered by TiVo, after Kim Williams said that Foxtel research revealed that the chance of these services delivering a commercial return are "zip or zero" he said.

And in a move aimed at thwarting free to air TV channels who are deliberately putting TV shows to air outside of the times advertised Foxtel has introduced a 20 minute buffer as part of their 14 Day Online TV Guide which is now integrated with "Remote Record" a feature which sends selected shows straight to a Foxtel iQ or iQ2 set-top-unit planner from either a mobile phone or PC.

Foxtel have also made it possible for subscribers to access their account online and sign up to view monthly bill summaries, payment history, and or change appointments with Foxtel technicians, update account details, or cancel Foxtel services.

When asked whether Foxtel was set to align themselves with a TV vendor Williams said "doubtful, why should we. We are totally technologically agnostic we can deliver to multiple devices in multiple places so why should we align ourselves with one vendor".

Late last year, it is believed that Sony tried to cuddle up to Foxtel across both the consumer electronics range and via their Playstation offering but it is believed they were rejected by Foxtel management.