Foxtel claimed the government was trying to control your TV – now its Hubbl set top box will do that for you

<span>Although smart TVs and devices already carry all the apps, Foxtel’s Hubbl says it and Hubbl Glass, their TV, will offer the ‘world’s best user interface’.</span><span>Photograph: Foxtel</span>
Although smart TVs and devices already carry all the apps, Foxtel’s Hubbl says it and Hubbl Glass, their TV, will offer the ‘world’s best user interface’.Photograph: Foxtel

Last year Foxtel claimed the government was trying to control your TV with laws designed to protect free-to-air broadcasters from being crowded out by streamers.

Now Murdoch’s pay TV arm is selling a set top box which it claims it will make watching live, free and streaming TV much simpler and easier.

Although smart TVs and devices like Apple TV and Google Chromecast already carry all the apps, Hubbl promises to offer the “world’s best user interface”.

With a price tag of $99, Hubbl will integrate paid and free TV services as well as keep all the billing for the apps in one place.

Related: Free-to-air group rubbishes claims Australian government wants to ‘control your TV’

However, consumers will still need to pay for their subscription services.

Discounts of up to $15 are offered if you have multiple services.

Having spent years in development, Hubbl is the latest offering from the Foxtel Group although the hardware is being marketed without reference to the 28-year-old Foxtel brand in an apparent move to distance it from the original cable company.

Once dominant in the subscription TV market, Foxtel has lost residential broadband customers to new international entrants, but in recent years has successfully entered the streaming business itself with Binge and Kayo Sports.

Streaming subscriptions now make up 29% of Foxtel’s revenue.

With a new hardware offering which carries Kayo and Binge buttons on the remote (as well as Netflix), Foxtel is moving to secure its position in the streaming market.

The product was launched at a lavish event on Sydney Harbour on Wednesday attended by hundreds of executives and talent from ABC, SBS, Seven, Nine and Ten as well as the streamers.

Foxtel has done deals with all the free-to-air broadcasters to put their content on the device and the Seven CEO, James Warburton, Ten boss Beverley McGarvey and SBS’ James Taylor were among the guests.

Global streaming services include Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, video sharing platform YouTube, Apple TV+ and Paramount+. Local streaming apps available on Hubbl will include Kayo Sports, Stan, Binge, Optus Sport and Flash.

A new streaming app, Lifestyle, that brings together the best lifestyle content from Foxtel, will also launch on the platform.

CEO Patrick Delany, who is also the CEO of Foxtel, said the product would save people a lot of time.

It includes a universal search function and voice control as well as watch lists, suggestions and a continue watching function.

“Hubbl is only as good as the breadth and depth of apps integrated on to the platform to ensure a truly converged streaming experience and in removing frustration when it comes to the choice of what to watch,” Delany said.

The managing director of Hubbl, Les Wigan, said the product offers “live TV without an aerial, seamless subscription management at the touch of a button, more discoverability and personalisation”.

“With the major free and paid apps available on Hubbl and more to come, there is nothing like the world of entertainment it unlocks,” he said.

Related: Streaming wars: why Foxtel paid ‘eye-popping rights fee’ to extend HBO content deal

Hubbl is also available as a 55” or 65” TV called Hubbl Glass which retails for between $1,595 and $1,995.

On Friday, a Senate committee will meet to discuss the draft prominence bill which will see manufacturers of new smart TVs forced to prominently display Australian TV channels.

The legislation, which is designed to guarantee local, free-to-air TV services Seven, Nine, Ten, SBS and the ABC are easy for Australian audiences to find, has been opposed by Foxtel and Delany.

However, the requirements will not apply retrospectively to existing television sets, and the legislation does not include features sought by the free-to-air industry such as search functions that prioritise free-to-air networks over the streamers.

Delany lobbied against the inclusion of the search function, saying it “should dictate what comes up to be the best for you not what the government thinks is the best”.