EXCLUSIVE: A brand new Telstra TV app that delivers free to air TV as well as access to thousands of movies, is set to be launched by Samsung LG and Panasonic. Telstra have also confirmed that they will shortly launch a premium movie service in Australia that will see some movies made available at the same time they go to cinema.Telstra, who intends to be a major provider of content as well as a major media company, has recently hired the former CEO of TVNZ, Rick Ellis, to head a new digital media unit. He will report directly to Telstra CEO David Thodey.
According to Telstra executives the new TV app which at this stage is being made available only for Smart TVs will be available next year for tablets, phones and notebooks, is “twice” as fast on a Panasonic TV after engineers coded the app onto a built in processor.
Both movies and TV programs start delivering in seconds with Panasonic set to launch the Telstra TV app shortly on a new plasma Smart TV range.
According to Ben Kinealy, Director of IPTV, Pay TV and T Box services, Telstra is currently investing in the expansion of content delivered using applications. “We have come a long way in a short period of time with our content application development. We are currently working with Panasonic on an embedded processor technology that is twice as fast as what we have achieved in the past; we can now start a movie in 4 seconds over our IPTV network. Both Korean and Japanese engineers who have seen our applications claim it is one of the best TV apps in the world today”.
Kinealy said that the new Telstra app will be made available for multiple devices in the future including Blu ray players, set top boxes, PCs and a variety of TVs.
In the past consumers accessing the Telstra content have needed a T Box digital PVR. Users of the new app will be able to access TV programs and over 2,000 movies. At this stage users cannot record the content to a hard drive or attached storage system.
During a first look SmartHouse saw movies downloaded in seconds over the Telstra Bigpond network. The app along with selected movies is free to consumers however Telstra is including advertising either side of free movies as well as when users access the BigPond AFL and NRL Analysers.
According to Kinealy, the app will be expanded next year to be available on several devices. “We are currently working on several new content services and we will shortly deliver a premium movie service” he said.
Kinealy indicated that some movie studios had wanted up to $50 for a first run movie delivered over the Telstra network.
“We believe the pricing for a premium movie service will be between $15 and $20. We will also deliver a service next year that provides movies at the same time that they are being delivered for DVD rental we will also expand our catalogue movie service” Kinealy said.
Last week Telstra announced that they have started up a new digital media division to consolidate its Sensis, BigPond and Foxtel units into one media division. They also announced that they will invest $100 million to upgrade its media delivery infrastructure, namely in video distribution capabilities, over the next four years.
The news was announced by Telstra CEO, David Thodey, at the company’s Investor Update event in Sydney.
Ellis will report to Thodey and oversee the new division, which will pool all of Telstra’s media assets. These include a 50% stake in Foxtel, the Aussie pay-TV and IPTV provider that’s currently bidding to buy rival Austar for $2bn.