Foxtel’s CEO Patrick Delaney has announced the name for their previously secretive “Project Magneto” – a new streaming centric platform designed to make it a one-stop shop for Aussies to get content. The Name – Hubbl. Ok.

Delaney revealed the name at the company’s “Up Fronts” this week – an event held by all TV Media companies to showcase the content and features coming in the year ahead to get advertisers and marketers excited.

What is it? And WHY?

At its core, Hubbl is a platform, an operating system. Foxtel will sell it to you as either a set-top box, or a whole TV unit. The TV is the same concept as Sky uses in the UK, called SKY Glass, so here it will be Hubbl Glass. The set top box is a small “PUK” – similar in size to boxes we’ve seen like Telstra TV, Vodafone’s TV box, the Roku, Fetch Mini and many more.

Both will run this operating system which will deliver you all your content via the internet. Streaming, Live TV, you name it.

The selling point for the TV is it just requires an Internet connection and a Power cord. “no other wires”.

Foxtel CEO Patrick Delaney said “Hubbl is the next quantum leap in entertainment technology and is the solution to a complex Australian streaming landscape caused by the fabulous explosion of choice in streaming services available to Australians.”

“It has been built with Australian consumers in mind, effortlessly fusing free and paid entertainment and sport from apps, channels and the internet into one seamless user experience – delivered via Hubbl Hub or a world leading TV, Hubbl Glass. It will deliver a frictionless paid and free entertainment environment, and we believe will become the heart of the home for millions of Australians.”

That’s all very good, but, then he went a step too far, saying “Hubbl is like nothing in the market – ‘it is TV and streaming made easy’ – seamlessly integrating world-leading technology with a purpose-built design and unrivaled app integration that sets it well ahead of the curve.”

Now to be clear, I’ve not seen a Hubbl unit, or played with one, so – I stand here ready to be corrected when I do, but I find it hard to believe it’s going to change the world.

You see, Hubbl is actually a Xumo, A small set top box that Foxtel has partnered to re-brand. Then inside is an operating system – also called Xumo, that will be rebranded also.

When you look at what Xumo is:

You see familiarity with other systems like it.

On a smart TV here’s how it looks:

Let’s all call a spade a spade here, it’s like Google TV.

And kudos to Foxtel for going all-in here, but I don’t quite see the strategy. What Foxtel has to offer here are some streaming apps, which are excellent, like Kayo, Binge and Flash, or even the standard Foxtel app too – but with their live TV channels included in Binge, seems perfectly placed that those three apps are core to the operating system.

Alongside that, we know Foxtel IQ boxes have Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+, Prime Video, and they also have catch up apps like ABC iView and SBS On Demand.

So let’s assume those same apps come across to Hubbl.

How, in any way, is Hubbl different to Google TV?

And, going back to Delaney’s quote “Hubbl is like nothing in the market” – mate, have you fired up a Fetch box?

Now before someone comes at me for bias, yes, Fetch is a sponsor of one of our podcasts here at EFTM, but I’ve been using and testing Fetch boxes for a decade and there’s nothing like it on the market.

Alongside that, and perhaps more critically – Has Patrick Delaney used a Chromecast with Google TV? Or a Sony, TCL, or many other branded TV with Google TV as the operating system?

Those two options, Fetch (as a Device) and Google TV (Device or OS) are the same, or better than what Hubbl is – on face value.

Again, let’s look at what Patrick Delany says about the impending launch of Hubbl “We all love the explosion of choice that streaming has delivered us over the past few years. But there is no doubt we are all experiencing the same frustrations: having to go in and out of apps, keeping track of show recommendations, remembering what we started but did not finish watching and who in the family is paying for what. Hubbl solves these frustrations.

Going in and out of apps, recommendations, remembering what we’re watching – those are all solved by a simple Chromecast with Google TV which costs under $50!

But – there’s one hint in that quote that could be the game-changer. “who in the family is paying for what

Now consider the Optus SubHub concept, amazing way to manage what services you are subscribed to month to month in one interface. If Foxtel via Hubbl can co-ordinate that, then there’s something in it.

Also critical to that is having every streaming service, and EFTM understands Hubbl doesn’t yet have in place agreement with all the main Free to Air players in Australia, let alone our

As for the Hubbl Glass TV – mate, it’s thick, kinda not a great looking unit, and the best thing going for it is the built-in soundbar. EFTM understand’s that’s going to be a $2,000 TV, and we assume it’s 65 inches. A tough ask in our market I think

Why is Foxtel launching Hubbl?

I’ve spoken at length over the years about Foxtel’s business model, and how their innovation in the peak of their success was key to them growing. Now, they are losing home subscriptions at pace, but growing well in the streaming space via Kayo and Binge.

The problem is that Average revenue per user, and also being able to “count” people as Foxtel Customers. So, for the Foxtel die hards, a “box” from Foxtel seems great, and imagine if you will a $10-$15 a month charge for the box as well as all the additional revenue for Binge and Kayo – you start to get some value from customers.

Then take into account their clipping the ticket on new signups, and yes, it’s a thing, if you sign up to Netflix via Optus, Optus gets a little tiny kickback – month to month, so part of Foxtel’s plan here is to get those kickbacks too – at scale.

Why not just go hard in partnership with Google for a Google TV operating system in a Hubbl box? Because Foxtel wants to clip that ticket!

But there’s another part of this, and it goes to Foxtel’s origins. Pay TV. But today, there’s a shift – a movement in the force. It’s called FAST – Free Ad Supported TV. These are all those random extra channels you see on 7Plus, or on Samsung TV Plus. And Xumo is operating in this space a lot, I can imagine the content kings at Foxtel are working hard to wrap up a bunch of channels too.

Imagine Foxtel going back to the old days of “50 Channels” but instead say with Hubbl you get Binge, Kayo, 50 Free TV channels and the option for many more via subscription.

Everything old is new again, lots of channels, and lots of ads to pay for it. Welcome to the 60’s-2000’s on Live TV:)

It’s an evolution of the business model – pure and simple.

Will Hubbl Succeed?

Calling it before I’ve seen it of course, but I doubt it. It’s going to need a game-changing something to do that, and right now, all I’m seeing is a Google TV equivalent and something that falls short of Fetch.

A die-hard Foxtel user is so for one reason. A single remote, for everything, INCLUDING Live Free-to-air TV. Now you can hate on Free to Air all you like, but millions of people still watch it, and they aren’t going to just go “oh ok – we’ll turn on the TV, open an app, go to the button for live TV, click that, then wait” etc etc, it’s got to be flawless, and even the best catch up apps are not as simple as just “turning on the TV” and at worst having to change the channel.

So if you consider that Fetch has the best Free to Air and Streaming combined service in a box, then Hubbl is a poor cousin to that.

If Foxtel were to say they aren’t competing in that market, then their competition is Chromecast with Google TV and I’ll take that every day of the week thank you.

Also, as a side note, I suspect this announcement was rushed, because Foxtel hasn’t yet applied for the Trademark for Hubbl 🙂