Virgin Mobile partners with Presto

Australia's Virgin Mobile is the latest telco to join the media battle, throwing in 2GB of extra data per month along with a free one-month Presto subscription for customers who sign up.

Virgin Mobile has announced a partnership with Australian video-streaming service Presto, with the telecommunications carrier to offer extra data and a free one-month Presto Entertainment subscription.

As of Thursday, new and existing post-paid customers on plans that are AU$59 and above, as well as SIM-only customers on plans AU$39 and over, will increase their monthly data allowance by 2GB for up to six months when they sign up to the subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service.

Customers on AU$60 plans already receive 4GB of data per month, with those on AU$80 plans receiving 9GB, those on AU$100 plans receiving 13GB, and those on AU$130 plans receiving 21GB of data. Virgin Mobile's SIM-only plans provide 4GB of data a month for AU$40; 6GB for AU$50; 10GB for AU$60; and 13GB for AU$80.

The additional data is on offer for up to six months, and available only when customers actively stream content each month.

A one-month free subscription to Presto Entertainment will also be thrown in, with the deal on offer until May 31, 2016.

Presto was initially launched solely as a movie-streaming service in 2014, but added TV series to its offerings after a deal with Seven Network in March this year.

Presto last month gained another new owner in Network Ten after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) approved an acquisition deal between Ten and Foxtel.

Under the deal, free-to-air TV network Ten acquired 10 percent of Presto, while pay-TV provider Foxtel acquired 15 percent of Ten itself.

In approving the deal, the ACCC said it had consideration of encouraging competition among streaming services.

"The ACCC considers the other free-to-air television networks, pay television providers, and online service providers will continue to have sufficient alternatives to allow them to obtain content that is attractive to their viewers," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

"Foxtel and Ten will continue to face competition from the remaining free-to-air networks, and streaming services are also likely to become increasingly important."

Opening up Presto to content from Ten could result in increasing competition in the Netflix-dominated streaming sector.

Presto Movies is priced at AU$9.99 per month, after last year being reduced down from AU$19.99 due to increased competition; Presto TV, its joint venture with Seven, costs AU$9.99 per month; and Presto's entertainment bundle combining both TV and movies sets customers back by AU$14.99.

By comparison, Netflix costs AU$11.99 a month for the HD service, Nine-Fairfax joint venture Stan is AU$10 a month, and Australian streaming service Quickflix costs AU$9.99 a month.

Netflix's costs could increase, however, thanks to the Australian government's recently unveiled draft exposure legislation that will see GST added to all digital products and services purchased online by Australians from mid-2017.

Streaming services have been gaining popularity in Australia, with Ovum recently predicting streaming subscriptions to reach 4.707 million by 2019 and Netflix Australia estimated by the ACMA to now have 2.5 million users.

With Virgin a wholly owned subsidiary of Optus, its deal with Presto signals Optus' continued aggressive foray into the media sphere, having recently acquired the exclusive rights to broadcast the English Premier League, taking the most-watched football league worldwide away from Foxtel for an unknown amount.

Optus has also offered unmetered access to Netflix from its launch date in a bid to secure more customers, and last month announced that it will be throwing a free six-month Netflix subscription into its entertainment bundles for home broadband customers.

Vodafone Australia also offers mobile streaming deals: Its AU$60, AU$80, AU$100, and AU$130 Red post-paid plans are inclusive of Stan or Spotify subscriptions, as well as 3GB, 6GB, 10GB, and 15GB of data, respectively.

Incumbent telco Telstra, meanwhile, offers 12-month subscriptions to Apple Music over its mobile services, and also recently launched its video-streaming device Telstra TV to provide home broadband customers with access to Netflix, Presto, and Stan, as well as catch-up services SBS on Demand, Plus7, 9Jumpin, and Tenplay.