Subscription television in Australia

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Subscription television in Australia is provided using technologies such as cable television, satellite television and internet television by a number of companies unified in their provision of a subscription television service. Notable actors in the sector include Foxtel, Netflix and Stan. Regulation of the sector is assured by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

In 2012, prior to market entry of some major digital streaming services to Australia, only about 28% of Australian homes had a pay TV subscription, which was one of the lowest subscriber rates in the developed world.[1] By 2019, the situation had evolved so that almost 14 million Australians had access to a paid television or video on demand service.[2]



Galaxy was the first provider of subscription television in Australia, launching a MMDS service on 26 January 1995.[3] Originally Premier Sports Network was the only local channel to be fully operational, with Showtime and Encore launching in March.[4] They were later joined in April by TV1, Arena, Max, Red and Quest.[5][6] A satellite service was launched later in the year.

Optus Vision and Austar launched their cable services on 19 September followed by Foxtel on 22 October.[7][8]

Northgate Communications launched their service on 13 March 1997.[9] It was later acquired by Neighbourhood Cable.[10]

Galaxy was closed on 20 May 1998.[11] Two weeks later Foxtel significantly boosted its customer base by acquiring Galaxy subscribers from the liquidator of Australis Media and immediately commenced supplying programming to Galaxy's subscribers on an interim basis.[12] In February 1999 Foxtel began offering its own satellite service to new customers.[13]

Following the collapse, ECTV quickly signed a deal with Optus Vision.[14] Less than two months later, it was acquired by Austar, along with its stake in XYZ.[15] Austar replaced the ECTV packages with their own in September.[16]


TransTV launched in 2001, beginning with VoD followed later by linear channels.[17][18]

UBI World TV launched in 2004. Also in 2004, TV PLUS launched its Ethnic platforms catering for Balkans, Russians and other Eastern European communities. Foxtel and Austar both launched their digital offerings in 2004, with a total of 130 channels. The following year, Foxtel introduces their Foxtel iQ personal video recorder.[19]

SelecTV launched on 12 April 2006.[20] It ceased its English programming in late 2010.[21]

Neighbourhood Cable with its hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) cable networks in three Victorian regional cities of Mildura, Ballarat and Geelong was acquired by TransACT at the end of 2007.[22] In November 2011, TransACT was acquired by iiNet Limited, which in 2015 itself became a subsidiary of TPG.[23]

Foxtel commenced their HD service in February 2009.


Fetch TV entered the market in 2010 with a subscription service over a few ADSL2+ networks.


Channels available[edit]

Almost all channels which currently or previously operated in Australia were available through Foxtel and Austar, being the dominant player in the market. However, some smaller competitors offer a subset of channels which are exclusive or unavailable on Foxtel services.

The majority of channels not available through Foxtel are non-English language channels. UBI World TV offers a number of ethnic satellite TV and radio channels nationwide, and other companies offer some channels via satellite, and some channels are available over the internet.



Satellite television is a service that delivers television programming to viewers by relaying it from a communications satellite orbiting the Earth directly to the viewer's location.[24] The signals are received via an outdoor parabolic antenna commonly referred to as a satellite dish and a low-noise block downconverter. In Australia, paid satellite television is or has been provided through the following satellites:

HFC Cable[edit]

Hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) is a broadband network that combines optical fiber and coaxial cable. It has been commonly employed globally by cable television operators since the early 1990s. In Australia it is used or has been used by:

IPTV / Internet television[edit]

Internet television in Australia is the digital distribution of movies and television content via the Internet. In Australia, paid internet television is provided by a number of generalist streaming service providers, in addition to several niche providers that focus on specific genres. Major providers of streaming services in Australia include:

Internet television in Australia is also provided by IPTV:

Defunct Services[edit]

A number of subscription television services in Australia have become defunct or are no longer supported in Australia:

  • Austar previously delivered an analogue MMDS service into selected regional areas, however the system was dumped in the late 1990s/early 2000s. Austar also briefly tested a digital MMDS service on the Gold Coast.
  • TARBS leased some of Austar's metropolitan licenses for their service.
  • ECTV and Galaxy also used MMDS.
  • SelecTV used Intelsat 8 until administrators shut the service down in January 2011.[30]
  • UBI World TV used Optus D2 and Intelsat 8 until United Broadcasting International Pty Ltd ceased to trade on 8 June 2012.
  • Austar has ceased transmission 24 May 2012, prior to this, Foxtel had acquired Austar.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "We don't love pay-TV like the rest. So what's Foxtel really worth?". Crikey. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Online & On Demand 2017: Trends in Australian online viewing habits" (PDF). Screen Australia. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  3. ^ Bertolus, Phil (2 February 1995). "AT HOME WITH PAY TV". The Age Green Guide. p. 1. Retrieved 27 January 2010.
  4. ^ Oliver, Robin (6 March 1997). "Galaxy of stars but light on hard info". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 8. Retrieved 27 December 2009. In addition to its sports network, already operating, Galaxy trebled the choice on Friday when Showtime, a premium movie channel, and Encore, a movie favourites channel, got under way.
  5. ^ Wilmoth, Peter (15 April 1997). "Do we really need pay-TV". The Sunday Age. p. 5. Retrieved 27 December 2009. TV1 channel, the service's fourth channel of the eight planned, which was launched on 2 April
  6. ^ Browne, Rachel (22 April 1995). "Galaxy takes knife to fees". The Sun-Herald. Sydney. p. 23. Retrieved 21 December 2009. XYZ Entertainment is launching the other four Galaxy channels today. They are a documentary channel Quest, children's and cult TV channel Max, general entertainment channel Arena and music channel Red.
  7. ^ Potter, Ben (19 September 1995). "Handful of households switch on to cable". The Age. p. 6. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
  8. ^ Potter, Ben (23 October 1995). "No fanfare as Foxtel hits the airwaves". The Age. p. 6. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  9. ^ Walker, David (14 March 1997). "Ballarat backs new cable roll-out". The Age. p. 3. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  10. ^ "Pay TV operator offers free phone in bush". The Australian. 14 December 1999. p. 32.
  11. ^ Simpson, Kirsty (21 May 1998). "Business: Lights out for Galaxy". The Age. p. 1. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  12. ^ Anne, By (3 June 1998). "Business: Foxtel pulls off coup in battle for pay TV". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 31. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  13. ^ Daniel, By (28 February 1999). "Pay TV audience doubles". The Sun-Herald. Sydney. p. 33. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  14. ^ Joyce, James (29 May 1998). "Friday Guide: ECT's New Pay-TV Vision". Newcastle Herald. p. 2. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  15. ^ Mathieson, Clive (10 July 1998). "Austar expands pay TV interests". The Australian. p. 23.
  16. ^ Allen, Jodi (28 August 1998). "PayTV Hope Looms on Region's Horizon". Illawarra Mercury. p. 7. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  17. ^ Manktelow, Nicole (13 March 2001). "Information Technology: ACT Debuts Video On Demand". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 8. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  18. ^ Manktelow, Nicole (7 August 2001). "Information Technology: Mix Of TV Gets Canberra On Cable". Sydney Morning Herald. p. 1. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
  19. ^ "History | Astra: Subscription Television Australia". Retrieved 27 August 2020.
  20. ^ Bolt, Cathy (12 April 2006). "$20m float for pay-TV player". The West Australian. Perth, Australia: West Australian Newspapers Limited. p. 58.
  21. ^ Chessell, James (20 August 2010). "City Beat: Bruce Gordon's SelecTV to make changes". The Australian. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  22. ^ Downie, Graham (19 December 2007). "TransACT in Vic move". Canberra Times. p. 6.
  23. ^ Hopewell, Luke (August 2015). "ACCC Gives TPG The A-OK To Buy iiNet". Gizmodo. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  24. ^ ITU Radio Regulations, Section IV. Radio Stations and Systems – Article 1.39, definition: Broadcasting-satellite service
  25. ^ Turner, Adam (10 March 2017). "Optus killing pay TV in NBN-ready areas, what are the alternatives?". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  26. ^ "iiNet to deliver TV over internet". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian Associated Press. 12 April 2010. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  27. ^ Sinclair, Lara (24 November 2009). "Finance: Fetch locks in TV partners". The Australian. p. 21. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  28. ^ "Fetch – FAQs". Fetch – FAQs. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  29. ^ Foxtel on Xbox 360 Pricing Announced
  30. ^ "Time called on WIN's pay TV company". The Spy Report (Media Spy). Retrieved 2 March 2011.