Five years ago Telstra launched a little box called the T-Box, it was at the time very exciting, offered great potential and was well-adopted.  Telstra has taken the learnings from that and looks set to launch something very new in the next few months and it could just be the most exciting thing they’ve done in the “TV” space yet.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s exclusive report, Telstra TV will launch in September and rather than creating their own box and ecosystem, they’re taking the highly successful Roku box from the US and rebranding it here for our local market.


T-Box was unique at the time, and sits firmly alongside Fetch TV as a hybrid of many things.  Firstly it’s a TV tuner to allow you to watch live TV.  Secondly it can record that live TV and replace the old VHS recorder style programming, next it can stream live TV channels via the internet (IPTV), plus you can watch Movies via the internet and even catch-up TV services.

Over 200,000 of those T-Boxes are in the market via bundled home line and internet plans across Telstra’s huge customer base.  Likewise Fetch TV is now in around 200,000 homes.  There’s an appetite for this kind of thing.

But look over there – what’s Apple TV?  It’s a tiny little box that doesn’t do much of that at all, yet it’s quite successful – perhaps best labelled as Apple’s quiet achiever.  Roku 2 is very similar, and Telstra look like they’re getting right into the game by adopting that here.

Rebranding the box simply as Telstra TV gives a simplicity of messaging, with Roku not having a wide appeal here in Australia.  Buying a Roku from the states and using it here is problematic because many of the services available on the device won’t work outside of the USA.

So, it seems, Telstra will remove those services, and add local ones instead.

Netflix, Stan and Presto will all be on the device, though not all at launch, and the big question is – can Telstra aggregate the subscriptions?

What I mean by that is, can a Telstra TV customer have one login and “buy” all three or one or more of those services.  If Telstra could do that, they could simplify and perhaps even discount the overall price of the total services.  This would be a game-changer – but, lets not get too excited.  Though, imagine simply getting Netflix and Stan for $20 added to your phone bill.  Simple right?

Regardless, while smartphones and Smart TVs are out there making Netflix and the like easy to get, there are a whole bunch of people – quite possibly the majority, who just want something simple.  A Roku 2, or Telstra TV as it will be known here could easily match or pass the T-Box for success and be in hundreds of thousands of homes across Australia.

The Telstra TV will certainly allow you to watch Netflix, Presto and Stan, as well as stream Bigpond Movies and likely have a bunch of other online apps available.  Down the track – who knows, the odd IPTV stream might creap in as TV channel content makers look for more than just cable TV services for distribution.