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Eye on Demand | July 26, 2017

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FoxNow Review

FoxNow Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
7
User Interface
6
Content on Offer
6.5
Device Availability
5
6.1

Best of the Big Four

The Fox Broadcasting Company may not be one of the original big three of American television networks, but in the relatively short period of time it has been around, it has become one of the most watched television networks in America. It just so happens, it also has one of the best US OTA catch-up services as well.

Launched in 1986 as America’s fourth over-the-air television network, not only did the Fox Broadcasting Company survive against the big three (CBS, NBC and ABC) where others had failed, but it even eventually surpassed the traditional networks in the ratings battle.

With hugely popular shows such as the Simpsons and Family Guy amongst others, Fox dominates the American Adult Animation genre, which doesn’t mean it lacks behind in drama and comedy either. 24 and New Girl are good examples of current high rating programmes in other genres.

Unfortunately, as FoxNow is an American catch-up service, they follow the usual rule of restricting access to online content unless viewers also subscribe to participating cable or satellite services. When subscribed, viewers have access to more content, much of which becomes available the day after broadcast.

For everyone else, there is an eight day delay as well as limitations on what content can actually be viewed via a web browser, and no guarantees at all that shows will become available on other platforms.

Quality ButtonVideo quality on the whole is stunning. True 720p HD streams can be enjoyed on selected platforms, where the best stream I tested average 4750kbps* on the Roku box – not bad for a free service.

Speaking of which, FoxNow is funded by advertising, so limited commercial breaks are peppered throughout the programmes. However, thankfully the number of ads are few when compared to what people may be used to with broadcast television.

Finally, platform support is one of Fox’s strengths in the American market, and are amongst the better end of the scale when compared to other OTA services streaming in the US. Don’t expect any level of platform support that the likes of Netflix or the BBC provide, but there are still a few good options to watch the content both on mobile devices or the big television screen.

 

  • www.fox.com

    I always start a service at their webpage. This is not usually because it’s the best place to begin, but because it is portal that everyone has access to. I can assure you, I generally speaking have very little reason to end up at most of these websites, but www.fox.com could very well be the exception to the rule.

    Fox have recently updated their web portal to bring a rather pleasant and well laid out site. Visually, it is graphic rich, clean and well laid out. Gone are the annoying videos that would automatically start with audio, and replacing the cluttered old look, the new Fox layout is possibly the nicest of America’s big four!

    Content is mostly locked down as one should expect with fox, but there are a few free gems. As an example at the time of publication, Fox.com offered the first 5 episodes of Family Guy to watch without a partnered cable/satellite subscription.

    Video playback may not have measured as high as other FoxNow platforms, averaging 2950kbps* during my tests, but it certainly looked great, even when enlarged to fill a 27″ monitor.

    But all that goodness doesn’t come without a price. Fox.com is a bare-bones platform, that lacks essentials such as the ability to Resume a partially watched show, or even offer a Watchlist. In fact, while I’m at it, there is no true Episode Management or even a Recently Watched list.

    Just to rub salt into the wound as well, Chromecast support is missing (aside from the horrible tab mirroring method).

    All that said, if you want to be able to play back the largest range of content on Fox without a cable or satellite subscription, and little else, this is a great place to be. But don’t expect anything above the very basics.

    Platform Pros:

    • Near HD quality streams.
    • The widest range of free, unlocked Fox content of any platform.
    • Attractive, well laid out website.

    Platform Cons:

    • No offline downloads.
    • No live streams.
    • No Resume option.
    • No Watchlists, Recently Watched or even any true Episode Management.
    • No Cross-Platform support.

    (Accessing FoxNow outside the US may require a good VPN or Smart DNS service)

    CC BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON SD BUTTON HD BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19173″]

  • Probably the first thing that came to my mind when I fired up FoxNow’s iPhone app, was how bold, colourful and attractive it was, and the same thoughts come to mind with their new iPad app as well.

    No, I wasn’t trying to make a connection with Fox’s “so bold, so brash” slogan, it really did just give me that first impression.

    FoxNow iPhone5sOverall, the app is one of the clearest, most striking and best laid out catch-up apps I have seen on iOS. Although to be fair, with so little content actually available, this isn’t really too hard to pull off. Still, it’s absolutely beautiful to scroll through the programme banners, with each highlighting the latest episode.

    Tap the play button to go straight to the episode itself, or the programme banner to bring up all that is available. It’s just a pity the highlighted shows give no indication of which programmes are available without a cable subscription, and to be honest, restrictions sit behind most of the recommended shows.

    Tap the menu button though, and a full list of episodes are displayed, which can be filtered by Recently Added, A-Z, and the most useful of all – Unlocked. At the time of publication, the app listed 100 of the available 255 episodes as unlocked, which is still a fair amount of content.

    Video quality is very good for a mobile device, with the iPad averaging 3140kbps* on my own tests. Although in all honesty, this is somewhat wasted by the fact there is no AirPlay support. 720pHD streams are great, but are they really needed on such a small screen? It is possible to mirror the stream across to an Apple TV, but at such a significant cost in video quality, it is not really worth mentioning.

    And no… there is no Chromecast support either.

    On the other hand, there is the possibility to Resume a previously started show, a very standard feature missing on most of FoxNow’s other platforms. And there is a Watchlist of sorts, but implemented in a rather unique way.

    Either tap the Menu button, then Settings, then Favorites, and then select your show, or when you bring up a particular shows home-screen, tap the add-to-favorites button. Using both methods, you can switch on Alerts for new episodes on either the TV or the App, and your favorite shows will appear at the top of the list in the menu section.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent 720p HD streams.
    • Beautiful UI and well designed layout.
    • Resume option available.
    • Watchlist with alerts in the guise of a favorites setting.

    Platform Cons:

    • No AirPlay support (Only low quality mirroring).
    • No Chromecast support.
    • No Live streams.
    • No offline downloads.
    • No true episode management.
    • No FFW/REW thumbnails.

    (Accessing FoxNow outside the US may require a good VPN or Smart DNS service)

    CC BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Resume BUTTON HD BUTTON Alerts BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18174″]

  • FoxNow’s Roku presence may look a little bland from the screenshots below, but behind all that empty white space is a basic, if functional Roku channel. FoxNow is available only on the American Roku box, so if you have a UK model, you’re out of luck.

    The home screen offers three useful sections along with a pointless clips library.

    Featured Shows takes you to a list, of which should be quite obvious from the title, is populated by Fox’s highlighted shows. From my own count, this covers about 75% of what can also be found in the All Shows category.

    Latest Episodes again does pretty much what you would expect, although a lot of episodes here are going to be locked without a partnered cable subscription.

    Video quality is absolutely beautiful, where my own tests averaged 4750kbps*, the highest tested so far on any FoxNow platform. If the video quality here doesn’t impress you, what will?

    FFW & REW is better than the Samsung Smart Hub’s FoxNow app, in that it lacks the clunkiness found there and is more responsive. If only it also implemented thumbnails to make real-life searches easier.

    While the sharp end plays well, the management side is somewhat lacking, and that’s putting it mildly. There is no Episode Management at all, with no records of what has been watched or what still needs to be finished. There is neither any way to Resume previously started shows where left off, nor any way to add Favourites to a Watchlist. It may pay to have a pencil and paper ready when using this app, as the technology here on this front is a bit of a let down.

     

    Tip: Use the asterisk button on the Roku remote during playback to bring up Closed Caption options.

    Platform Pros:

    • Excellent, high quality HD streams.
    • FFW & REW functions ok.

    Platform Cons:

    • No Episode Management of any kind.
    • No Resume or Watchlists.
    • Many entire shows are locked without a cable or satellite subscription.
    • No FFW or REW thumbnails.

    (Accessing FoxNow outside the US may require a good VPN or Smart DNS service)

    CC BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON HD BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18153″]

  • At the time of publication, the only smart TV supported by Fox was Samsung’s range. In fact, FoxNow is the only OTA catch-up streaming service available on Samsung’s Smart Hub, which does make one wonder how seriously the competition views IPTV – as a comparison, every major FTA UK television network has a Samsung Smart TV app.

    The usual annoying limitation set by requiring a subscription with a partnering cable or satellite company to access many of the latest episodes, still exists with the Samsung Smart Hub, but like other non-web based platforms, there are some pleasant surprises.

    At the time of publication, Cosmos had 11 full episodes available unlocked, starting at the very first one, and including the latest which aired only two days earlier. Even the current series of 24 still had the first 3 of the four episodes available unlocked, with the latest of course still requiring a cable subscription.

    Unfortunately, this is not the norm, and although many other shows may have entire seasons available, only odd, sporadic episodes may be unlocked on other shows. For instance, of the 10 episodes available in the current season of Hell’s Kitchen, none were available for free.

    While the confusion over which shows are available will no doubt cause many to go prematurely grey, there is no complaints over video quality. With a tested average bitrate of 4470kbps* on this platform, video played back in HD clarity with no noticeable pixelation or artifacts, even during fast action sequences.

    FFW & Rew is a tad clunky though, lacking any thumbnail guides, and no indications as to where commercial breaks are hidden. In fact, it’s also a bit slow in responding to be honest, which is a pity since viewers may be forced to use it more often than they would like since there is no ability to Resume a show where left off.

    In fact, there are no Watchlists ether, nor Episode Management guides or even any cross-platform support. This app just does the absolute basics – start the show, watch it, and then go to bed.

    Platform Pros:

    • Visually pleasant UI.
    • Excellent video quality.
    • Can contain some real gems in content.

    Platform Cons:

    • No Watchlists.
    • No Resume function.
    • No Episode Management.
    • FFW and REW is clunky.
    • Far too many shows locked.

    (Accessing FoxNow outside the US may require a good VPN or Smart DNS service)

    Catch-up BUTTON HD BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”16997″]

  • Fox Now is one of the best American catch-up services in the US, and fares quite well against the other Big Three. PBS still ranks in my opinion as the American benchmark, and even A&E Networks, despite its content issues, gives Fox a good run for its money based on the service alone.

    But is it really worth all the trouble when Hulu Plus offers so much more Fox content, and for a very reasonable price? For instance, Family Guy has a total of eight episodes available on FoxNow. Via most platforms, zero are watchable without a cable or satellite television subscription. Direct on Fox.com, only the latest is locked, so seven episodes are still available to watch.

    The same seven are also available to watch via the free portal of Hulu, but grab yourself a Hulu Plus sub, and there are a total of eleven seasons and 209 available episodes, including the latest. And for Hulu Plus, this is the same across other platforms as well.

    Of course, this is all part of the goal for Fox, to draw more people behind a pay-wall. But in my sincere opinion, Hulu Plus is such great value for money, it is certainly worth it. When combined with all the other features that Hulu offers over any of the FoxNow platforms, such as full Episode Management, Resume, Watchlist, Cross-Platform support and more, it almost becomes a no-brainer.

    At the end of the day though, the FoxNow apps, and especially the fox.com website, offer quite a fair range of content, in 720p HD, entirely for free – that’s a lot of reasons to give this service a go.

    Pros:

    • Great HD quality streams.
    • Good platform support for an OTA American catch-up service.
    • Great content.

    Cons:

    • Lack of major features such as Resume and Watchlists on many platforms.
    • No true Episode Management.
    • No AirPlay support.
    • No Chromecast support.
    • No Cross-Platform support.
    • No live streams.
    • No offline downloads.
    • Forcing viewers to have cable or satellite subscriptions to watch OTA content.

    Technical Details:

    • Available platforms include web, US Roku, Samsung Smart TVs and Blu-Ray Players, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows 8, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Apple TV.
    • Most shows offer the latest 5-8 aired episodes for viewing for 35 days from airing.

     

    CC BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON HD BUTTON Alerts BUTTON

     

     

     

     

    Log:

    22.05.2014: Review published. Score 6.1: Best of the Big Four.

    * Bitrate tests were based on multiple averages and are subject to both the geographical location and ISP bandwidth at the time.

     

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Comments

  1. Timothy Henderson

    Its terrible. Locks up. And gets constantly out of sync. Adds are annoying as you sometimes have to close the browser. OR APP. Pending the device I’m using. No resume. So, if your half way through. The program locks up. To resume. You must watch approximately 12-15 commercials.

  2. Stephanie

    My 8 and 5 year old girls love SYTYCD: Next Gen, but tonight while we were watching it, a preview for a horror movie came on and I had to jump up in front of the screen and mute the tv while they covered their eyes. The damage was already done. Now I get to deal with nightmares. Could you please consider your audience when airing commercials on your streaming network?