Telstra offers AFL app refunds: ACCC

Following concerns from the ACCC that Telstra did not clearly notify customers after restricting the viewing size of its live AFL streaming app, the telco is offering refunds to some customers.

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A screenshot of a live AFL match being viewed on a 9.7-inch iPad

(Image: ACCC)

Telstra has told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that it will be refunding some subscribers of its AFL Live Pass app, after changing its policy on the size of the viewing screens available on tablets amid concerns of not disclosing this change to customers.

During the 2016 season, Telstra had allowed customers to live stream AFL matches in full-screen size on their tablets; however, in 2017, it began restricting the viewing size to 7 inches.

According to the ACCC, however, the AFL Live Pass app was still being advertised on the AFL website with images of matches appearing full-screen on tablets.

"Prompted by the ACCC concerns", the watchdog said, Telstra in August began offering refunds to customers who were annual subscribers to the AFL app on January 31, 2017, and who had downloaded the app on a tablet.

"The ACCC was concerned that footy fans may have subscribed or renewed subscriptions to the AFL Live Pass thinking that they could continue watching live AFL matches in full-screen on a tablet, when this was not the case," ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

"Some footy fans were locked into a Telstra subscription before the screen size restriction took effect. When businesses make changes to the subscription terms of goods or services, customers should be clearly notified of the change so people are able to make an informed decision about whether to continue their subscription."

Telstra has been putting greater emphasis on the availability of sports and media streaming services to win and retain customers, last month announcing the inclusion of Foxtel packages in its post-paid mobile plans.

Telstra is offering customers 12 months of free access to content packs from the Foxtel Now streaming service: Paying AU$129 per month will give customers 30GB of data and two Foxtel Now starter packs; AU$149 will provide three starter packs and 50GB of data; and AU$199 will provide 100GB of data and three starter packs.

The post-paid plans also include data-free streaming of Telstra's AFL and NRL apps.

Telstra Media Group ED Michele Garra called the deals "the most generous data allowances ever", with Telstra saying it is part of becoming the "home of mobile entertainment in Australia".

"We've already established strong content partnerships with the AFL, NRL, Netball, and Apple Music to provide our customers with access to the best quality content," Garra said, referring to the telco purchasing the five-year broadcast rights for the Australian netball league back in May 2016.

According to Telstra, video consumption now accounts for 38 percent of its mobile network usage -- up by 40 percent year on year -- and is forecast to rise to 75 percent of its mobile traffic within the next five years.

The Telstra TV mobile app will also allow for continuous streaming between home and mobile, with Telstra last month announcing the second iteration of its streaming device.

"We're about to dial it up again," Telstra CEO Andy Penn said, detailing that the Telstra TV 2 will include all streaming and catch-up TV services along with a linked mobile app, making it "a real Australian first".

"Access to the best content is critically important to us as demand for media continues to grow. At the same time, the media market is changing with new participants and increased competition," Telstra added.

Telstra in August announced its media revenue growing by 8.2 percent to AU$935 million during the FY17 financial year thanks to uptake of both the Telstra TV and Foxtel from Telstra. The latter made AU$777 million in revenue, growing by 8.1 percent due to 57,000 additional subscribers. There were 827,000 Telstra TV devices in the market as of June 30.

Optus is also focusing on media content, in July unveiling an entertainment partnership with National Geographic as part of what CEO Allen Lew told ZDNet is the telco's next move to become a "mobile-led multimedia service provider".

Lew had previously said that Optus is a unique position to be the first in Australia to take advantage of the convergence between telecommunications, media, and technology after beginning its self-described transformation into a multimedia company with the acquisition of the exclusive Australian broadcast rights for the English Premier League in 2015.

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