As the name suggests, Foxtel on Xbox 360 allows you to access a selection of Foxtel TV channels and On-Demand content via your Xbox 360 console. In addition to an Xbox 360 console, you’ll need to have a fast, reliable broadband connection with a generous download allowance and an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Once you’ve ticked these boxes, you’re ready to go.
Setting up Foxtel on Xbox 360 is a breeze. Select the Foxtel option under Video Marketplace and install the Foxtel app (an 8MB download) when prompted. Once you launch the Foxtel app, you can browse the menu options, explore the TV guide and even view a sample channel. This gives you a feel for the service before you sign-up.
Next, you’ll need to sign up for a Foxtel on Xbox 360 profile. Here you can select from up to 30 channels across five different packages. Once your payment (via credit card) is verified , use your Foxtel profile credentials to sign into the Foxtel app on your Xbox 360. In a few moments, you can start watching Foxtel.
Sporting a similar design to the Xbox 360 dashboard, users will quickly familarise themselves with the Foxtel on Xbox 360 interface. It is easy to use and can be navigated with your Xbox 360 controller, Xbox 360 DVD remote or Logitech universal remote.
For some reason (which is possibly deliberate on Foxtel’s part), the TV guide lists all 30 channels, not just the ones subscribed for. This makes it difficult to work out which channels you do or don’t have. Users should have the option to set the TV guide to show subscribed channels only or show all.
The performance, quality and overall enjoyment of your Foxtel on Xbox 360 experience, is largely dependent on your broadband connection.
With my ADSL2+ (average 5Mb/s download) connection, Foxtel video plays smoothly and without lag. Using other internet services simultaneously on the same broadband connection may cause the occasional yet brief pause to re-buffer the video. If your broadband connection has a tendency to drop out, your Foxtel stream will go with it.
The picture and audio quality is very good. There are three selectable picture quality settings: High, Medium and Low. High Quality (HQ) is the only setting worth watching. It’s not High Definition but it is clear, smooth and vibrant. On occasions some of the colours can look patchy, but that doesn’t detract too much from the overall picture quality. The HQ setting eats around 800MB of data per hour of viewing, so you’ll need a sufficient download quota included in your broadband service.
Content and Programming
There are some issues that impact on the content shown on Foxtel on Xbox 360. Firstly, as an internet-based service, Foxtel doesn’t have the rights to screen some shows. This will extend to AFL and NRL games, come footy season. Secondly, with only one Fox Sports channel (compared to three available on the mainstream Foxtel service), this limits the amount of sport that can be broadcast, resulting in programming decisions that will divide viewers.
After receiving an email promoting the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash cricket tournament on Foxtel for Xbox 360, I assumed the Big Bash would take broadcast priority over other sports content. This wasn’t the case. An A-League soccer fixture between Sydney and Gold Coast was screened instead of a Big Bash cricket match between South Australia and Victoria. But what followed the next day took my annoyance to another level. Foxtel replayed the same A-League match between Sydney and Gold Coast, rather than showing live the match between Adelaide and Melbourne Victory. This programming decision still has me stumped. You’d be forgiven for thinking Foxtel has a bias against South Australians and Victorians.
When I asked Foxtel, they didn’t address the programming decision but cited ‘licensing restrictions’ as the reason for not being able to provide an additional Fox Sports channel. It should be noted that licensing and programming are two completely different matters. Foxtel needs to get the programming issues resolved if they want Foxtel on Xbox 360 to be a success.
Foxtel on Xbox 360 is a great offering that adds to the entertainment value of the Xbox 360 console. The service is well designed and implemented, providing performance and quality that would exceed most expectations. There are some issues around content restrictions and programming, that may or may not bother you depending on your viewing preferences. From my perspective, Foxtel needs to address these issues if I’m to continue using the service. With no long-term fixed contracts (being a monthly subscription), it’s worth trying Foxtel on Xbox 360 for yourself and making up your own mind.
- Easy to setup and use.
- Well implemented; great performance and quality.
- Monthly subscription; no long term contract.
- Content limitations and programming issues, particularly with the Fox Sports Play channel.
- Not worthwhile unless you already have an Xbox 360 console, Xbox Live Gold subscription and decent broadband service.
- TV Guide shows all channels, not just those subscribed to.