Full disclosure, I received the Hubbl set top box just 24 hours ago, and would normally like to enjoy days if not weeks of use before even thinking about publishing any form of review. But, with Hubbl’s launch date just five days away, and customers already receiving boxes (several have contacted us with photos of their Hubbl delivery) – I need to jump to action and give you my first impressions of the device – and it’s mixed.

First and foremost, some additional context for those who aren’t regular readers or listeners. I subscribe to and pay for pretty much every streaming service, as such I’d be an advanced streamer, and I’m not sure that’s the sweet spot for Hubbl – but I could be wrong. Secondly, I was not sent a retail version of the box. My box was specially packaged, and I am a Hubbl “customer” because I have Binge and Kayo Subscriptions – as such, by entering my email – it authenticated me and I was off and running.

I say this because I’ve not had to setup any payment plan in this initial process, but assume when you create your Hubbl account online – you will need to do that. Existing Binge and Kayo customers will login with their account info.

Setting up Hubbl

There are three key steps to getting your Hubbl working. Firstly, WiFi, and of course this is as you’d expect and easy to sort out.

There is also an Ethernet port if you have cable nearby.

Then there’s your Hubbl account – as I say, this was a relatively straightforward process for me – but I think a retail box would have had a few more steps to go through, should all be a breeze though.

I completed this on my phone, on the couch – no dramas at all.

You’ll note I chose a postcode in regional NSW (Griffith), more on that later.

After this, and this is probably the number 1 standout feature of Hubbl, you are presented with the five free-to-air TV apps.

You click on each, sign in with your account, and it returns it instantly to this page with a tick under it when you are signed in.

I worry people will skip this, but in the end, it’s the key to getting live free-to-air TV channels without an antenna.

And that’s it, we’re in, and it’s running.

Launching Streaming Content – directly

Because it was literally two clicks to the right, the first thing I considered doing was watching the Apple TV Show “Masters of the Air”.

When I did it launched me to that title in the Apple TV+ app. Offered me the option to watch a free episode or accept a trial subscription.

As an existing subscriber I didn’t want either, and then proceeded to pull my hair out trying to work this out.

Turns out I needed to be in the Apple TV App – then bring up a menu and go to settings, where a Traditional Apple TV interface presents itself and lets me sign in via a QR code.

Netflix was worse.

From the home screen, pressing on a show from Netflix popped up a message at the top of screen saying ” Sorry, this app is currently unavailable. Please try again later.”

I wondered Did the app need an update?

Nope, I scrolled to the Netflix app, logged into my existing account and from then was able to watch content.

Disney Plus took me to a join or login page whenever trying a bit of content, again, I just had to login to overcome that.

My point here is, once you sign everything in you’re good, but it’s not always perfectly intuitive to get to that point.

Subscribing to a Streaming Service

Key to the success of this platform is the tease of content everyone is seeing and clicking to view it.

So I imagine that you’d want a seamless “you’re not subscribed to this, do you want to be” yes or no – and boom, I’m watching.

But no, I needed to go to the home page, scroll all the way to the bottom and Manage my account.

This is a pretty impressive area of the system, that lets you see your account details, existing subscriptions, monthly cost, and also add new services like Disney+ and Netflix.

What’s great is the presentation of your monthly streaming costs on one screen – might freak a few people out.

Sadly, it’s just the Foxtel properties, Kayo, Binge, Flash and Lifestyle, plus Netflix and Disney+ here as a part of My Account.

They need them all, not just on the box to watch content, but as part of their single billing platform – otherwise there’s always something missing.

Migrating your streaming accounts to Hubbl

The fact this wasn’t an option as part of the setup – amazing to me.

Turns out, through reading the fine print (read: Any text) in the Automated email when I added Netflix and Disney+ to my Hubbl, that instructions were going to be mailed to me.

They were not. So I’m kind of in limbo here, theoretically with two Disney+ payments. I’m sure it’s a teething problem – we’ll wait and see.

Of course, Netflix and Disney+ are the only two third party streaming apps that currently support the Hubbl billing platform, the rest are all Foxtel/Hubbl apps so the “stack and save” discount is all off the top of Hubbl’s own billing – the service urgently needs Stan, Paramount, Apple TV+ and Prime to be part of that for it to be of true value.

That one screen showing monthly cost – huge deal and powerful stuff.

Netflix Restrictions on Hubbl

When I first checked out Hubbl, I asked their head Tech Guy and CEO if they had “full” access to Netflix billing, particularly “Extra Member” accounts. As this is an area Optus Sub Hub is not able to do – for those of us paying for the Mother-in-Law’s account after the epic password crackdown, I have an extra family member payment.

Turns out, that’s not going to work on Hubbl. Here’s what their Help pages say:

And here’s what the sign up page says – indicating only those who live with you can use it.

Sure, it’s not everyone – but it’s yet another restriction on using Hubbl as an existing Netflix account holder – thus, that service won’t count toward my stack and save discount because I can’t migrate it.

Live Free to Air TV – with a catch

If you choose to login to all the Free to Air apps, then you will instantly get those primary and secondary channels within the TV Guide.

It’s very much a Foxtel approach, high channel numbers – not Channel 9 and 7, but 109 and 107. Not a deal breaker, but come on, just use the actual channel numbers folks.

Then there’s the issue of where you live and what you see.

I chose Griffith in Regional NSW as my test site.

The live channels I get are the SYDNEY channels.

Interestingly, all the channels I SHOULD get as a “Griffith local” are shown in the EPG – 7TWO Griffith, 9HD Wagga – but nope, no content there to watch.

You might not see this as a big deal – I get that, but for someone who is cutting the cord or moving from something else to Hubbl on the promise of Free to Air without an antenna, it’s an important caveat.

So regional News and content, only available via Antenna connections.

Subscription TV channels

As a solid tease, all the channels appear, but only play if you’re subscribed. Well played.

I tried to watch Channel 600, Sky News, nope.

So I added Flash News to my Account, and boom, all worked a treat.

HOWEVER, in the spirit of my picky first look tester feedback (all of this I could have given them two months ago if they’d have shown people like me in advance) – I had to work out what to do.

When I watched Sky, it just said I didn’t have that. It should be a pop up message or take me direct to my account to add the service – it needs to make it clear that this channel requires “FLASH NEWS” to be added.

This has to be seamless, one or two clicks – give me what I want. I think it’s all possible with software tweaks, but given this is a tweaked unit from Sky Glass/Comcast, it’s not built from the ground up – one wonders how likely that will be.


Finally, while there is a link to Personalisation in the settings, that does nothing right now.

Everything you see is marketing or editorially driven. The only thing that relates to YOUR usage is the top carousel of content, scroll LEFT and you see your most recently used apps or channels.

True success for this device relies on Personalisation.

If Foxtel/Hubbl can convert the deeply personal style of content presentation like we see on Kayo Sports – this would be a big deal.

First thoughts Summary

Feels like it’s been rushed to market. Waiting for more deals to be done, more apps to be readied, and more of those apps to support the single billing page option.

If they can get all the apps, and all the apps to support billing – huge!

Free to air is a big win, but AFL fans don’t expect to see your games on Channel 7 Via the internet – they don’t own those rights.

So there will be hurdles.

Right now, I don’t see a leaps and bounds advance on what Fetch has in the market, or what Chromecast with Google TV is already offering.

Give me more time and I’ll report back in more detail.

I’m also going to test the Hubbl Glass TV – so stay tuned!