Foxtel joins Telstra, Apple and Amazon in set-top box streaming battle

Foxtel will soon debut a new offering for the set-top box market.

Foxtel will soon debut a new offering for the set-top box market. Photo: TND/Getty/Foxtel

After revealing an upcoming set-top box last year, Foxtel has announced a number of streaming’s heavy hitters have agreed to be featured.

But so far, the device doesn’t appear to be offering anything we haven’t seen before.

Dubbed ‘Hubbl’, and developed in collaboration with Comcast USA and Sky UK, the technology will be available as a small device that plugs into compatible TVs and integrated into a ‘Hubbl Glass’ TV.

Hubbl will feature 18 streaming services, allowing users who have subscribed to these platforms to easily switch between apps and search for particular movies and shows.

These will include international paid subscription platforms Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, YouTube and Apple TV+; local paid subscription platforms on Hubbl will include Kayo Sports and Binge.

Stan, Optus Sport, and Paramount+ will join the Hubbl platform soon after launch.

The Hubbl set-top box and Hubbl Glass will launch soon. Photo: Foxtel/TND

Free Australian streaming apps will be featured, including ABC iView, ABC Kids, SBS On Demand, 7plus, 9Now and 10 Play.

LifeStyle, a new streaming app focusing on lifestyle content, will also debut on the platform, and live TV channels will be available.

In a media release, Foxtel Group said Hubbl’s official launch date and pricing would be revealed ‘‘soon’’.

“Hubbl will effortlessly fuse free and paid entertainment and sport from Australia’s favourite apps, channels, live TV and the internet into one seamless user experience,’’ Foxtel CEO Patrick Delany said.

“Hubbl is only as good as the breadth and depth of apps integrated onto the platform to ensure a truly converged streaming experience and in removing frustration when it comes to the choice of what to watch.’’

Familiar technology

Based on available information, there doesn’t seem to be anything ‘‘innovative’’ about Hubbl, Queensland University of Technology Digital Media Research Centre professor Amanda Lotz told The New Daily.

‘‘I think the nature of the business is that no one has ‘grand slams’ anymore … instead of just having a single thing that makes tons of money, the companies are recognising that they need to have a lot of little things,’’ Lotz said.

‘‘So Foxtel still has its cable service [and] I think they’ve actually done pretty well in terms of expanding that base with services like Binge and Kayo.

‘‘My guess is that [Hubbl] is just another … source of incremental value, but it’s not something that I see a lot of pent-up consumer demand for.’’

Delany said the arrival of the ‘‘transformative’’ Hubbl technology meant the ‘‘future of TV and streaming is here’’.

But bringing together multiple streaming services on one user interface is not new tech.

Set-top boxes such as Fetch TV (previously Telstra TV), Amazon Fire TV Cube, and Apple TV are already available; like Hubbl, they allow users to access multiple streaming services through one device.

Foxtel itself has already released multiple set-top boxes that enable on-demand streaming, such as the iQ5, which support services such as Netflix and Disney+.

Smart TVs from manufacturers such as Sony and Samsung also offer direct access to streaming services, allowing users to download relevant apps or cast films and shows from other devices.

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