Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

A brief history of Australian television: from black-and-white to streaming day and night

By Luke Hopewell July 29, 2020

“Good evening, and welcome to television”. Those were the first words uttered on Australian television airwaves in 1956. For 64 years, we’ve been laughing, crying and shouting at our televisions. The stories got bigger, as did the screens, and everyone has their own show. This is how we got here.

Before there was streaming; before TV had profiles, and before anyone knew what 4K even meant, there was the simple idea that good, entertaining and informative content could be beamed into people’s homes via the airwaves. As we celebrate the launch of BINGE – Australia’s unturnoffable streaming service and home of premium, award-winning content – we wanted to look back at just how we got to this place of incredible small-screen storytelling. Find out how you can get a year of BINGE on Telstra.

Welcome to television

Bruce Gyngell was his name.

The man who spoke those warm and welcoming words to Australians on September 16, 1956. At 7pm, he appeared for the very first time, even credited as the “First Host” on the screen.

He wore a suit and a bowtie, and viewers in Sydney and Melbourne were warmly ushered into a new age of modern information and entertainment.

Television was more than just a fly-by-night fad, however. Australians had been shown the possibilities of wireless images beamed into their homes at a number of demonstrations over the previous two decades.

Experimental transmissions were happening in Brisbane back in 1934, and others around the nation were able to see local demonstrations of television in town halls throughout the country in the 1940s.

Demonstrations aside, however, come September of 1956 not everyone was able to see Mr Gyngell welcome them into the future.

At the time, a television cost hundreds of pounds – back when Australia paid in pounds, of course. By the 1960s, you could still expect to pay the equivalent of $6000 for a 23-inch black and white set for your home. While some TVs still cost that today, you can expect to get a whole lot more for your money.

So, instead of watching from home, many gathered outside store windows to watch the future come to pass. Hundreds congregated under a sign outside the famous windows of Myer in Melbourne Emporium which heralded the arrival of television. That very set is now on display as part of an exhibition of Myer’s history.

The golden age

The next decade saw Australian television go through an incredible golden age. Australia’s TV legends were minted in this time, and many of them are still with us today.

Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton and more came to delight Aussies in their homes every night. Their class popularised television formats we still enjoy today, from quiz shows to talk shows and everything in-between.

Sport and sport analysis came to our screens thanks to World of Sport (later Wide World of Sport), and AFL games were televised for the very first time.

As the price of televisions slowly fell and more sets landed in homes, Aussies were enjoying the collective experience of content. Sports matches were enjoyed together set against the backdrop of the Aussie barbecue. Serialised shows were discussed over the water cooler. We came together to experience defining moments in our history.

The power of television was truly demonstrated in 1969 when man first set foot on the Moon. NASA struck a deal with Australia to help broadcast from the Moon, live, through Australian equipment, including the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station just outside Canberra and the Parkes Radio Telescope in regional New South Wales, as well as the control facility in Sydney owned by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission – Telstra before Telstra.

After the lander had returned home, and several more missions had been broadcast for the world to see, television saw its next great shake-up in 1975 when colour burst onto screens for the first time. It was so revolutionary that it had even been announced by Prime Minister William McMahon three whole years earlier.

As Australia was late to the game on colour, many cashed-up households had already started buying colour televisions as early as 1969. But it wouldn’t be until mid-1975 when the Pakenham races were broadcast in colour that Australians first saw the new dimension of television.

After that, they were hooked. Television was everywhere, with Aussies buying colour TVs faster than just about anywhere in the world, thanks to the availability of content.

The internet, televised

The 1980s and 1990s saw Australians import a flood of television content from international audiences. Everything from Blind Date and Perfect Match through to Jeopardy! and international sport all got a run on the Aussie airwaves.

We also exported a good chunk of television, with the ever-popular exploits of Ramsay Street and Summer Bay (Neighbours and Home and Away, respectively) captivating audiences from the 1970s to this very day.

The 1990s brought with it an explosion of international news content, as the first Gulf War was televised day and night via channels like CNN. Aussies would be able to receive this programming for the first time as subscription television like Austar and Foxtel came to town, offering nearly 60 paid channels compared just a handful on free-to-air.

It wasn’t until after the turn of the new millennium that Australian TV would change forever all over again: the internet had come to change television as we knew it.

Late-2006 brought with it our incredible Next G network, that allowed for 3G broadcasts that put television in people’s pockets. With our long-time partner Foxtel, we helped launch Foxtel by Mobile: 33 channels of live news and entertainment, optimised for the small, small screen. The service exploded, and users were limited to just 200 minutes of viewing per month at the time.

This was one of the first instances of the internet coming to television. But it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Free-to-air players would soon have their own platforms that would slowly evolve to bring more and more entertainment to audiences over the top of traditional broadcast television services, just as services like Netflix and Stan opened for customers.

By 2018, Netflix had over 10 million users in Australia, spurred on by a mix of original content and the ease of access from devices like the Telstra TV. With the Telstra TV, you can consolidate your streaming services into a single box, and unlike TVs in the 1960s, it wouldn’t cost you 5x your average weekly wage.

In fact, the advent of cheap and available services and devices has led to an explosion in content consumption. With hundreds of millions around the world now able to watch content, there has been a new golden age of content.

Creators like the minds behind Game of Thrones, Chernobyl, and Veep now have the latitude to produce movie-quality content for the small screen. This premium content can be consumed just about anywhere via just about any device.

The idea of “channels” no longer dictates viewing habits. Everyone has a favourite streaming service and everyone has their own show.

Australians are now untethered from their lounge rooms, with the ability to watch content on the bus; on the beach with our fast new 5G offering on selected plans with a compatible device in a 5G coverage area. Telstra is rolling out 5G in selected areas.

More content, less cash

With the launch of BINGE, this movie-quality TV content is available more readily than ever. With BINGE, you get more flexibility and access to entertainment both at home and on the go, without having to pay for the content you don’t watch.

BINGE and Telstra Plus go hand-in-hand to get you the best TV on offer. As part of our unmatched sport and entertainment product mix, we’re offering customers* three months access to BINGE Standard on us, while members of the Telstra Plus loyalty program will be eligible for between three and nine months additional complimentary access.

That means if you’re an eligible Telstra Plus customer, you could have up to a year of BINGE content just waiting for you to sign up.

BINGE has three different subscriptions to choose from and customers can change between them whenever they need, plus cancel any time.

To start, BINGE Basic is $10/month, streaming in standard quality with one stream at a time. Step up to BINGE Standard for $14/month and you’ll be able to stream in HD quality on two screens simultaneously, and BINGE Premium ($18/month) is for family households with HD streaming and four streams at once.

Wherever you are, welcome to television all over again.

*excl. prepaid and business customers

Things you need to know

BINGE Offer: 3 months BINGE Standard subscription available to Telstra customers with a consumer post-paid mobile or home internet plan. Redeem by 18 Jan 2021 through http://hub.telstra.com.au/BINGE or on a Telstra TV.

Telstra Plus bonus months: In addition to the BINGE Base Offer available to you, Telstra Plus Members are eligible for an additional 3 months. Silver Tier members are eligible for an additional 6 months and Gold Tier members are eligible for an additional 9 months. Redeem through http://hub.telstra.com.au/BINGE.

BINGE Standard monthly fees (currently $14/mth) apply after offer period ends unless you change or cancel. Offer can be applied to: BINGE Premium (for $4/mth during offer period) or BINGE Basic (for $0/mth during offer period). After offer period, standard monthly prices apply (currently BINGE Premium $18/mth, BINGE Basic $10/mth), unless you change your pack or cancel before the end of your offer period.

Billing: Not compatible with any other BINGE offers. Not compatible with some third party billing platforms. Telstra billing not available for existing BINGE subscribers on another payment method. One redemption per customer account. Requires internet & compatible device and sign up to BINGE Terms of Service. Data charges apply.

Kayo Sports: Offer available to new & returning Kayo customers on a Telstra consumer post-paid plan. Eligible customers must sign up through http://hub.telstra.com.au/kayo or on Telstra TV. Standard monthly fees apply after offer period unless you cancel. One redemption per customer account. Not available in conjunction with any other Kayo offers. Redeem by 30 September 2020. Requires internet & compatible device. Data charges may apply. Event availability correct at time of publishing and subject to change.

Telstra Plus: Must be 18+ with an active service. Excludes enterprise and corporate accounts. Points are earned on payment of Telstra bill or pre-paid recharge (excl. outright purchases, refunds, credits & late payment fees). Points expire 3 years from earning. Marketing opt-in required (preferences can be changed). Exit program anytime. 

Our new Telstra Plus program for SMBs.
Business and Enterprise | Small Business |

Rewarding businesses for their loyalty

By Michael Ackland February 25, 2020

For over 100 years, we’ve been helping Australian small businesses connect and thrive. We’ve helped connect them to opportunity and worked side-by-side to create new ways to engage with customers. As we have stuck by small business, they too have stuck by us, and I’m excited to launch a new way to thank them for that loyalty with our new Telstra Plus program for SMBs.

Last year, we opened up our Telstra Plus loyalty program to consumer customers. At the time, our CEO, Andy Penn, recognised that Australians now have more choice than ever when it comes to their telco provider.

Since then, 22 billion points have been earned by our customers, and everyone is telling us how much they love redeeming them for the latest tech, movie and concert tickets. That’s why we want to reward the millions who continue to choose Telstra, especially when it comes to our small and medium business customers.

Telstra Plus for SMBs builds on what makes the program great, giving small business customers the same opportunities to earn points on every dollar they spend toward their monthly Telstra bill to put towards the latest technology and experiences. That’s our way of showing appreciation for your business and rewarding you for loyalty over time.

Furthermore, Business tier customers are eligible for VIP support by way of receiving three months of Telstra Business Tech Service on us, as well as access to discounted movie, concerts, sport and art tickets as well as priority pre-sale tickets.

And to add a sweetener, Telstra small business customers who sign up to be a member of Telstra Plus between 25 February and 9 April 2020 will nab 10,000 bonus points.

Along with the new, expanded Telstra Plus program, we’ve also launched our Telstra Business Services initiative. It’s all part of our major revamp to provide businesses with the end-to-end tools and services they need to thrive.

Check out Telstra Plus today!

Telstra Plus Entertainment
Entertainment | T22 |

Stuff your stocking with 1 million Telstra Plus points

By Michael Ackland November 29, 2019

Figuring out what to get your loved ones for Christmas can be a challenge, but we already know what we’re getting you. Over the month of December, we’ll be giving away a share of 25 million Telstra Plus rewards points to our Telstra Plus members to wish you a merry Christmas. Here’s how to get your hands on the points.

We believe tech can help bring people together at Christmas. That’s why we want to celebrate our Telstra Plus members by giving them the chance to win the tech of their dreams from the Telstra Plus rewards store. From December 1st-25th, we’ll be getting into the festive spirit by giving away millions of Telstra Plus points to our members.

Telstra Plus is our rewards programwhich gives you the opportunity to earn points to put towards the latest devices and accessories, as well as access to discounted movie and sports tickets, exclusive pre-sales to the hottest concerts and performances in town, tier benefits such as entertainment rewards and VIP tech support, and more, simply for being a Telstra Plus member.

Our Telstra Plus Rewards Store meanwhile allows you to spend your accrued points on smartphones, tablets, watches, headphones, smart home products and accessories. There’s even our new Xbox One All Access consoles in the store so you can unwrap more games than your Christmas morning has room for! Plus, Telstra Plus members also get an Xbox One Chat Headset with the purchase of an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Subscription so you can coordinate with your squad online.

Not only do you get great benefits from being a Telstra Plus member, but you’re also automatically in the draw to win one million rewards points across the Christmas period up to Christmas day. If you’re not a Telstra Plus member, don’t worry, joining is easy atTelstra.com.au/plus! You just need to be 18+ with an active Telstra service.

The prize draw will take place ~weekly on the following dates:

  • Thurs Dec 5 – 5 winners announced
  • Thurs Dec 12 – 7 winners announced
  • Thurs Dec 19 – 7 winners announced
  • Tues Jan 6 – Final 6 winners announced

Merry Christmas from all of the Telstra Plus team, and good luck!

Telstra Plus Points Wonderland Promotion

Full T&Cs at www.telstra.com.au/plus/telstra-plus-christmas-points-promotion. Open from 1 December to 25 December 2019 to Aust. Residents who are Telstra Plus members during the promotion period. Prize: 25 x 1,000,000 Telstra Plus Points. Limit one prize per Telstra Plus member. Draws: Level 19/400 George St, Sydney at 11am on 5/12/19 (5 winners), 12/12/19 19/12/19 (7 winners) and 6/1/20 (6 winners). Winners notified by phone and published telstra.com.au/plus on draw dates listed above. Permit numbers ACT – TP 19/04607 SA – T19/1897 NSW – LTPS /19/39758.

1 millionth Telstra Plus member and 1 million points winner
T22 | Tech and Innovation |

And our Telstra Plus million points winner is…

By Graeme Crozier November 7, 2019

We recently welcomed our millionth Telstra Plus member to the family, just over six months after we launched our new rewards program for Telstra customers. To mark the occasion, we gave away an amazing prize for that lucky member – and now we can reveal who took it home!

Luke G. from Brisbane is our lucky millionth Telstra Plus customer!

It was a stroke of luck that saw Luke walk into our Indooroopilly Telstra Store at just the right time to be the millionth sign-up for Telstra Plus, but as a long time Telstra customer we think this is a perfect opportunity to reward Luke for his loyalty. He wins one million Telstra Plus points to spend on whatever he’d like from our Rewards Store, two exclusive 365-day movie passes, and 12 months of access to music and sport events.

The in-store customer service team member that helped Luke sign up, Angie, has been part of the Telstra team at our Indooroopilly store for 18 months. Angie will also receive one million points for signing up the millionth member, plus an event to celebrate with her team.

Telstra Plus is part of our strategy to radically simplify our products and services and improve the experiences we offer to our customers, so it’s around to stay – and you earn points simply for paying your bill, so reward yourself and join.

We’ve also got some more exciting competitions on the way exclusively for our Telstra Plus members, so you should sign up – if you haven’t already – for a chance to be in the draw.

We know that Australians have more choice than ever when it comes to their telco provider, and millions of our customers choose us for their connectivity, technology and entertainment. We designed Telstra Plus to give you more, whether that’s by redeeming T+ points to put towards smartphones, tablets, headphones and other gadgets and accessories, or through access to discounted movie, sports and concert tickets and other great benefits.

Visit Telstra Plus to see how to become a Telstra Plus member and check out the diverse range of products already available. We’re regularly adding more devices (and more special offers) to our Rewards Store, and we’ll expand Telstra Plus even further in the coming months. The team is working on many more exciting developments, so stay tuned!

Things you need to know

Must be 18+ with an active service. Excludes business customers.

Young couple on the mobile phone
T22 | Telstra News |

One million Telstra Plus members, and one very lucky winner

By Michael Ackland October 11, 2019

We’re getting ready to welcome our millionth Telstra Plus member – a massive undertaking since we launched our brand new loyalty program in May of this year. To celebrate the runaway success of our loyalty program in the last six months, we’re giving one lucky new member a prize worth over $20,000.

Telstra Plus is our loyalty program for Telstra customers, where your normal monthly spend on your Telstra account gives you points to spend at our Rewards Store, with deals and discounts on the latest technology and accessories. We want to reward you for your loyalty, and to say thank you for being a Telstra customer.

We’ve been blown away by the speed at which we’ve reached almost a million Telstra Plus members, but we haven’t been standing still while it happened. In that time we’ve launched our new no lock-in contract mobile plans, given over a million mobile customers extra data at no charge, continued to lead the way on 5G, and added more products to the Telstra Plus Rewards Store.

Telstra Plus has had some huge milestones along its way to a million members. We were off to a cracking start with over 500,000 enrolments in the first 60 days, and it hasn’t taken us much longer to reach near the million mark. We’ve been excited to see how you’ve been spending your points on our Rewards Store, with thousands of smartphones, tablets, headphones and other gadgets redeemed so far.

We launched Telstra Plus to reward you for your loyalty, and it already has some very loyal members. We’re incredibly proud of our heritage and long history as Australia’s leading telecommunications company, and we’re incredibly grateful for your continued support.

To commemorate this upcoming special occasion, our millionth Telstra Plus member is in for a treat.

The lucky winner will receive:

  • 1 Million points to spend on whatever rewards they like in the Rewards Store
  • Plus their picks from across the Rewards Store
  • 12 months of access to music and sport events
  • 2 exclusive 365-day movie passes

If you’re not already a member, simply visit the Telstra Plus page to join and start earning points.

We launched Telstra Plus this year as part of our T22 strategy to radically simplify our products and services and to put customers first. You’ve always been able to benefit from the best network and the greatest new technology, but with Telstra Plus, being a customer is even more rewarding. We’ve been delighted at your interest in our rewards program in its first six months, and we’re excited to continue to expand it in the coming months and years.