One criticism often made of Foxtel is that it doesn't keep up with the latest in technology. Whether or not that is true for Foxtel Play and Go, it's not the case for the company's Presto movie streaming service. More than a fifth of all Presto movies watched since launch have been viewed via Google's $50 Chromecast dongle.
Presto was launched in the middle of March on Mac, PC, iOS and Android tablets, but only added Chromecast support at the start of July. In the last six weeks, that Chromecast support has accounted for 20 per cent of Presto's video traffic — clearly a pretty significant proportion.
Recently slashing its monthly subscription price by half to $9.99, Presto does what even Foxtel Play and Go can't — it takes big risks. The aggressive price strategy, the quick adoption of new technology that potentially opens the service up to abuse (with a video stream leaving the relative safety of a locked-down app), the implicit threat from any Netflix spin-off that might launch here — all of these are reasons not for Foxtel to invest time and effort in developing Presto, so it's good to see that the company is.
It hasn't gone all out, though; the mobile app is only available on select tablets from Apple, Samsung and Google, and there's nothing that Foxtel could do to get some people on board — the BitTorrent die-hards, anyone that still visits their local Video Ezy to pick up the 7-for-$7 weekly special, and so on. Still, Chromecast support is one small thing that is clearly paying dividends for Presto.
According to a Presto spokesperson, the process isn't exactly turn-key, despite the open Chromecast SDK, which makes it all the more impressive: “Developing Presto for Chromecast was made easier by the fact that Google publishes its Chromecast SDK openly. We put a lot of effort towards getting the user experience just right and were able to build and deploy Presto’s Chromecast feature within four months from start to finish, which was considered an impressive result by all parties involved. We are absolutely delighted by the results, with a very high quality user experience and the majority of our video consumption now occurring via Chromecast.”
Foxtel has gone to pains to make no announcements or comments around Chromecast for Foxtel Play or Go, so maybe that's one potential step for the future. Fingers crossed. [Presto]