With a lot of bang and bluster, Foxtel yesterday made 10 announcements, relating to extra channels, extra HD channels, iQ boxes as standard kit, Foxtel Downloads and more.

Where to start… let’s start with the boxes. As of tomorrow, October 1, all new subscribers will receive the iQ set-top box as standard. Also from tomorrow, iQ and iQ2 boxes will begin to get a little smarter. There’ll be a new Foxtel EPG on-board, well, it’s more than an EPG really. It can display all the shows you have access to, or you can build your own program guide for the shows you want to see.

Also to be added is a new feature called iSuggest, which in effect just pushes the Foxtel programming at you in a graphic way, dividing into program types – must see, sports, knowledge and adventure, drama and lifestyle, kids and music, HD shows – from which you can easily program your iQ or iQ2 to record for you.

The new EPG and iSuggest features will roll out to all iQ and iQ2 subscribers from tomorrow, with completion for all expected by November 15. You won’t need to upgrade, it will all be there for you when you switch on the machines – provided of course your machine has had its turn in the progressive rollout.

Before we leave the iQ and iQ2 boxes, from November 15 a feature called Record Me will added. On over 20 channels, whenever you see a Record Me icon on screen during a promo for a show, by hitting the green button on the Foxtel remote the show in question will be added to your recording schedule. If there’s any clash in the schedule the program will source an alternate recording time. So, 20 channels to start with, and more channels will get the Record Me feature throughout 2010.

Now, to the channel additions and changes. There are 12 new standard definition channels:

  • LifeStyle YOU, 13TH STREET, The Style Network, Eurosport, KidsCo, FMC, STARPICS, showtime action, showtime comedy, showtime drama, Discovery Turbo MAX and Nat Geo Wild.

There are 10 new high definition channels:

  • FOX SPORTS 1HD, 2HD and 3HD, FOX8 HD, W HD, MOVIE ONE HD, showcase HD, showtime action HD, showtime premiere HD, STARPICS 1HD and 2HD, and UKTV HD.

The HD channel package is an additional $16 on top of your particular Foxtel subscription package.

There are 8 new ‘timeshift’ channels – timeshift as in shows starting 2 hours after they run on the ‘on-time’ channels:

  • 111 HITS +2, Discovery Channel +2, Discovery Turbo MAX +2, LifeStyle FOOD Channel +2, LifeStyle YOU +2, SCI FI +2, showcase two and STARPICS +2

Movies on Demand has been beefed up too – you’ll be able to choose from 40 different movies.

Last but not least, Foxtel have added a free – except for download costs from your ISP – catch-up service, Foxtel Download. This too goes live on October 1, with content gathered from 38 channels. There’ll be 400 hours of programs available to download at launch, with 100 new hours added per week.

That, and a little more, is Foxtel’s next generation of pay TV goodness.