5 July 2024

It's dog-eat-dog in the world of TV streaming services - but where does that leave the viewer?

| Mark Southcott
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Person pointing remote control at a TV.

Telstra is scratching Telstra TV and Roku and replacing it with a supposedly better gizmo, Fetch – but where does that leave the poor old viewer? Photo: francescosgura.

Don’t you hate it when big dogs fight?

In this case the junkyard is streaming TV, and the bites are coming from some of our biggest telcos – Telstra and TPG.

Big dog Telstra’s customers can watch streaming TV on a supplied “Roku” box (a small cube that plugs into your TV and lets you watch Netflix, Apple TV, Binge, Prime, etc).

TPG is a stray that wants to eat Telstra’s lunch. It also has an ugly mutt in its pack, Foxtel (aka old hound Rupert Murdoch, 93 in dog years), to help chain us to yet another new gee-whiz box, “Hubbl”.

Now the race to keep up is on and in October Telstra is scratching Telstra TV and Roku – which works fine, it just needs a pat now and then if it jams – and replacing it with a supposedly better gizmo, Fetch (not a pun, just another TV box).

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So the fur is flying, and even though Telstra owns a big chunk of Foxtel, it won’t allow Foxtel’s Binge TV service into the Fetch “app” kennel.

Most of us aren’t mates with the Murdoch pack but, for many, Binge is the only way to see some pretty good shows – Game of Thrones, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Euphoria, Colin from Accounts among them.

But in October those stuck in this melee with just a Fetch box will lose it.

Also disturbing is that some innocent hounds are also excluded, including the wonderful Kanopy, a streaming service run through universities that includes documentaries and weird and wonderful old movies, and is free of charge to most council library users.

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Some young pups point out you can get around all this with other gizmos, such as Chromecast media players, but many of us are just too old to learn those new tricks.

With free-to-air TV in the ratings’ doghouse for most viewers, Australians now lap up streaming TV and the companies are dying to get their claws into us.

But with so many suppliers to choose from we are not scared to dump the ones that charge too much, play rubbish, or are hard to get.

Last year Telstra TV reportedly had around 800,000 customers; Binge had about 1.5 million.

That’s a huge potential overlap and an awful lot of TV eyes for the latter to lose.

So tails are not wagging in our yard (nor, I suspect, Binge’s).

Original Article published by Mark Southcott on Region Illawarra.

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