Telstra launches second-gen Telstra TV

Telstra's second-generation Telstra TV has a free-to-air tuner, HEVC, a quad-core processor, and 4K UHD support, and is included in all AU$99 and above broadband bundles.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor
(Image: Telstra)

Telstra has launched the second iteration of its Telstra TV media streaming box, announcing that it has "united" search functions across free-to-air (FTA), subscription TV, and on-demand streaming services, with the box launching on October 31.

The newest Telstra TV, made by Roku, has an FTA tuner; high-efficiency video codec (HEVC) support; a quad-core MStar processor; 2GB of DRAM; 512MB of additional storage; 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi support; 2160p 4K UHD with HDR support; and HDMI 2.0.

The box will be included in Telstra's AU$99 home broadband bundles, or is available for purchase for AU$192.

Telstra's executive director of media Michele Garra said it was designed to save customers from having to switch between content services and devices. Users can therefore use the search function to trawl all five Australian catch-up services of ABC iView, SBS On Demand, Plus7, 9Now, and Tenplay, plus streaming services Netflix, Stan, BigPond Movies, and Foxtel Now, and all free-to-air channels. Hayu will also be added at the end of October.

"Once users have found what they are looking for, the new Telstra TV will take users straight to the content using deep-linking technology," Telstra explained.

The Telstra TV mobile app now also allows customers to search for and play content through their mobile device, and to use it as a remote for the Telstra TV. The app also includes a notifications centre for reminders, an electronic program guide, and the ability to make lists for future viewing.

"We know that the high-quality digital experiences we are providing to more Australians will continue to differentiate and drive value for our mobile and broadband customers," Garra said.

"Our partnership with Roku, a pioneer of streaming to the TV, has made the new Telstra TV possible. Roku and Telstra have worked together to custom build the device and bring this brilliant experience to Australia."

She added that Telstra is already looking into voice activation, personalised recommendations, and partnering with more content providers in future.

Telstra is also allowing customers to add charges for the Foxtel Now and Netflix streaming services to their Telstra bill.

According to Telstra CEO Andy Penn, the launch is part of the telco's vision to be a "world-class technology company".

"Telstra TV is a perfect example of how we can build software and service layers on top of our leading networks to provide new value and differentiated experiences for our customers," Penn said.

Penn had in August announced the launch of the second Telstra TV after launching the original Telstra TV in October 2015.

"We're about to dial it up again," Penn said at the time, detailing that the Telstra TV would 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 at the time.

The first Telstra TV was the fastest-selling streaming device in Australia, Garra said on Monday, exceeding the Google Chromecast and Apple TV in sales.

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.

Telstra has been putting greater emphasis on the availability of 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.

Video consumption now accounts for 38 percent of Telstra's 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.

Rival telco 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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