Many Australians who get broadband internet access through Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like Internode and iiNet will be watching Pay TV channels as well as Video on Demand movies and TV shows via their broadband internet connection within the next few months
FetchTV is a content aggregator (buying internet rights to movies, subscription channels like Discovery etc) and wholesale supplier of these to ISPs like Internode and iiNet which use it to deliver internet Pay TV channels and a internet Video on Demand service to their customers.
FetchTV provides ISP’s with a wholesale subscription TV service that includes the hardware (Set Top Box/PVR), platform and user interface, and content.
FetchTV sources television, movie and interactive content from content owners like Discovery Networks, National Geographic, MTV Networks, Fox International Channels, E! Entertainment Television, BBC World News, CNBC, ABC, Roadshow Entertainment, Disney Media Distribution and MGM
ISPs deliver the FetchTV service to customers via their broadband connection and a FetchTV Set Top Box/Personal Video Recorder (STB/PVR).
Consumers buy FetchTV from their ISP as an unmetered service (doesn’t count towards broadband download limits). ISP’s then bundle FetchTV to customers as part of a “triple play” offering (TV, Broadband Internet and Voice over internet phone calls).
Key features of Fetch TV
- Digital Free to Air (FTA) TV channels: the Fetch TV STB/PVR can be connected to your TV antenna to give you access to all Standard Definition (SD) & High Definition (HD) digital FTA channels available in your area eg: ABC1, ABC2, ABC Kids, ABC News 24, SBS1, SBS2, 7, 7TWO, 9, GO!, 10 and ONE HD.
- Video on Demand (VOD): Access to VOD content included in the basic subscription package at no additional cost including a selection of thirty random movies and variety of TV shows
- Internet Pay TV Channels: Access to a range of channels eg: Discovery Networks, National Geographic, MTV Networks etc
- Personal Video Recorder (PVR): Ability to watch, record and store FTA & linear channels (record two channels whilst watching a third)
- Interactive Applications: Access to popular social networking applications & games – not particularly exciting at the moment.
- Pay per View (PPV): Access to the full inventory of FetchTV PPV movies.
Each ISP can choose different rules for customers who want to sign up for Fetch TV through it, eg: iiNet demands that customers use their BOB (all in one adsl modem, wifi, and voice over internet) unit.
Fetch offers 3 levels of service which an ISP can pick and choose to offer you from:
- Fetchtv HD. Minimum ADSL speed 7.5Mbps. All the content including HD, SD and 3D as applicable
- Fetchtv. Minimum ADSL speed 3.5Mbps-7.4mbps. SD pay tv channels and HD VOD content (where
- Fetchtv Lite. Minimum ADSL speed 1.5 – 3.5Mbps. All Fetchtv features except pay tv channels & VOD
Fetch TV Unboxing
Note: the FetchTV PVR/STB supports use with home theatre stereo equipment and provides digital optical and coaxial 5.1 surround sound connections. It can connect to your TV in any of the following ways (cables provided):
- Digital High Definition (HDMI)
- Analogue Component Video and Analogue Stereo Audio
- Analogue Composite Video and Analogue Stereo Audio
- S-Video and Analogue Stereo Audio
The FetchTV PVR/STB can connect to a broadband ADSL modem (eg: iiNet’s BOB) using either a directly connected Ethernet network cable or via an Ethernet over Power Adaptor
FetchTV PVR/STB Specifications
In hardware terms and ease of use the Fetch TV PVR/STB is quite high end however I suspect that because the Push VOD storage contains a random assortment of free content which people may or may not want to watch, it could prove frustrating that this feature uses a fixed and very large part of the hard drive.
- Processor: Broadcom 7413 400 MHz dual core processor (Supports 1080p HD content playback and is 3D capable)
- 3 Free to Air Digital TV Tuners: Receive digital FTA TV signals. Watch & pause live Free to Air Digital TV. Record two programs and watch a third at the same time
- 1 Terabyte (1000 GB) Hard disk: Stores up to 1025 hours of video. About half is available for your recordings and the remaining space is used to store Fetch TV Video on Command content available for you to access at any time.
- Memory: 512 Mb RAM
- 2 USB ports: Connect keyboard, microphone or other accessories as required (future uses)
- Credit card reader: for future sales of services through the box
The FetchTV PVR/STB provides access to all the free to air broadcast digital tv SD and HD channels in your area.
The benefit of doing this is that it allows you watch all the free to air broadcast digital tv channels through your Fetch box without using your internet connection like the subscription internet TV channels (National Geographic, BBC World News etc) will.
Regarding people who live in an area with bad or non-existent free to air broadcast digital tv signal quality Fetch TV says they intend to rebroadcast these channels through the internet straight to the Fetch Box in the future for people who live in digital tv black spots though only people with broadband speeds of at least 18Mbps will be able to take full advantage of this.
Fetch TV Offers All the News You Could Want
If you’re a news junkie then the variety of subscription internet TV 24/7 News channels from around the world offered by Fetch TV may attract you including: CNBC (USA), BBC World News (UK), Al Jazeera English (Middle East), FRANCE 24, (France) euronews (Europe), NDTV 24×7 (India) and CCTV News (China) as well as ABC News 24 (Australia) broadcast TV picked up from your TV aerial.
CNN and Fox News are missing from the list. The lack of CNN is a shame but missing FOX News is a plus. You won’t miss any real news by not being able to see Fox because Fox News is an unabashed right-wing propaganda machine.
iiNet FetchTV Hands On Review
This iiNet FetchTV Hands On Review has been written by Stewart Thorn. Stewart is a freelance producer, cinematographer and avid spender of money he doesn’t have. He collects cameras, paper and most things that glow in the dark. You can find him on Twitter as @Stiggeh
Guest review: Getting Fetch TV was a no-brainer for me. Compared to Foxtel, it offers great value for money. The iiNet Fetch 2 plan includes a digital TV PVR/set top box (with three HD tuners and a terabyte hard-drive), IPTV channels like National Geographic, Animal Planet and MTV, video-on-demand content and a selection of thirty rotating movies. Signing up through iiNet’s online Toolbox was fast and painless.
The digital TV PVR/set top box itself is sleek, shiny and black, with bright blue indicator lights and all the standard inputs present, including a USB port which will (via a planned future firmware update) allow viewing of any other digital content you may have. The rubber-lined remote feels softer and (hilarious as it sounds) earthier than the plastic Foxtel IQ remote.
Despite the pleasant visual and tactile responses provided, when one begins installing the system the process isn’t exactly streamlined.
The first required step is to call iiNet for assistance. The idea is that they then switch your line at the exchange and call you back. For me, this process took several days. This was because of exchange maintenance problems, which, I was assured, hadn’t been happening to anybody else. Still, it’s not exactly a case of plug-it-in-and-turn-it-on.
Once it was installed I was pleased to discover that the IPTV channels are very high quality and there was a good variety of films on demand – from the first Harry Potter to Reservoir Dogs (seven new films appear every week and seven disappear).
Half of the VOD channels currently seem to be devoted to children’s television, which I can imagine would be great if you had kids (all VOD content is commercial free). The rest of the content ranges from Sci Fi and biography to Warner TV, which touts The Big Bang Theory as its heavy hitter. The quality is good, but I wonder if it would hold up on some of the larger HD televisions that are out there.
The menus are usable and the design simple, replicating iiNet’s website design rather than the busy Foxtel menu.
The web applications that are currently provided (games like Black Jack and a native Twitter app) must have seemed like a good idea at the time but I’ve found them utterly painful to use – the remote control is not designed for any form of quick input, making tweeting 140 characters a very frustrating task. Another disappointment with the Twitter application was that it takes you completely away from viewing television.
Hopefully in the future this could be incorporated as an overlay on the screen or even a custom scroll bar down the bottom of the screen. This would be great if you could run a search on a particular trending term (say #masterchef) and be able to watch the tweets scroll across as the show progresses, however as it currently stands this app is slow and frustrating and offers no ancillary features so you may as well use your phone/tablet/laptop instead.
I’m currently experiencing some frustrating teething problems with the operating system itself, which is pretty buggy. The screen has been freezing up entirely, not responding to the remote, and flickering and dropping out.
In fact while writing this review the STB lost all of the VOD content it had accumulated over the past month (it takes a while for it all to download to the HDD) leaving me with another month to wait for the full content to arrive again.
The best promise made by Fetch TV is that they will be constantly enhancing the service.
Over the coming months we should see the launch of more VOD and IPTV channels, refined applications and additional services (I’m hanging out for ABC iView integration).
EDITOR: I’m told that ABC iView integration in the Fetch Box is unlikely any time soon.
Once the problems are ironed out (and I’m assured the update is just around the corner) Fetch TV will bring together some of the best things about Foxtel, the Internet and digital TV. The sooner the better – that Harry Potter movie isn’t going to watch itself.
Internode FetchTV Hands On Review
EDITOR: This will be written as soon as Internode PR officially launches the product and can lend me a review Fetch TV box to use on my Internode ADSL2+ connection.
While Internode will use the same Fetch TV PVR/STB as iiNet the channels, pricing and VOD content could be quite different. Initial indications are that Internode won’t force customers to use 1 specific ADSL modem to access Fetch TV but they will have an approved short list.
NOTE: thanks to BUSH Australia for giving Stewart a BUSH Walker portable digital radio as a guest reviewer thank you prize