Streaming offers a great alternative to Foxtel pay TV and Free to Air Digital TV. Here’s an easy guide to the options available in Australia.
What does it all mean?
There’s a number of terms used to describe the services and features of pricing plans. Here’s a quick guide to them:
- On-Demand: This refers to the fact that you can choose to watch what you want when you want to. It differs to traditional TV, where you had to watch movies or TV shows at the time they’re scheduled or record them for later. With on-demand services you can get anything that the On-Demand service has in its collection at any time.
- Streaming: This means that your chosen movie or TV show is sent directly to your device as you view it. You don’t have to wait for a download to complete before watching the chosen content. It does however require a fast internet connection, particularly for High Definition or Ultra High Definition programs.
- Screens: The number of simultaneous devices you can be watching stuff on at a time. For instance “3 screens” might mean a Smart TV, an iPad and a smartphone all being used to view movies or TV shows at the same time.
- High Definition or Standard Definition: Some services, particularly Netflix, offer Standard Definition on their cheapest service and high definition on more expensive services. This refers to the maximum video quality you might get with a service. Standard definition is “DVD quality”. High Definition may be 720p, 1080i or 1080p. Netflix also offers an Ultra High Definition or 4K format on its highest plan. Note: Not all movies or TV shows are available in High Definition or 4K, even if you pay for the higher plans. It depends on how the content was produced.
- Smart TV: Smart TVs are Digital Televisions that contain software that allows you to run various apps on them, similar to how smartphones and tablets do. The capabilities of Digital TVs branded “smart” will vary from TV to TV and manufacturer to manufacturer. You can also make a TV “smart” by connecting a device to it that provides app capabilities.
Here are the main on-demand streaming services currently available in Australia:
Netflix is probably the most well known on-demand streaming movie and TV show provider. Netflix has an extensive catalogue of popular and new movies and TV shows, but the offerings aren’t as good as they are in the USA thanks to licensing. You can find a complete list of Netflix Australia’s content here.
It is possible, but not always easy, to access the USA Netflix collection using a VPN or DNS hack. However, again thanks to licensing, Netflix has been cracking down on this sort of thing.
Netflix basic plan starts at $8.99 per month for 1 screen in Standard Definition. You can get 2 screens and High Definition from $11.99 per month and 4 screens with Ultra High Definition from $14.99 per month(as at November 2016). They are offering a free trial for the first month.
Netflix is available on Apple(including Apple TV and iPad) and Android devices(including Chromecast) as well as some smart TVs. It can also be used in a browser on a laptop or PC.
Stan launched in Australia on Australia Day 2015 and unlike Netflix is a local company. It has similar wide variety of new and older movie and TV show content. Stan has some exclusive content and produces some Australian TV shows. See a full list of Stan content here.
Stan has just one pricing plan: $10 per month for 3 screens in High Definition. You can try it out with a 30 day free trial.
Stan can be used on Apple and Android devices as well as computers.
Presto started in March 2014 as a joint venture between Foxtel and Seven. Presto has announced it is shutting down on January 31, 2016, but users will be able to switch to Foxtel Play. Presto has a variety of content. See a full list of Presto content here.
Presto has three pricing plans: $9.99 for just TV Shows, $9.99 for just movies, or $14.99 for a combine package of both. Presto is offering a 1 month free trial.
Presto can be used on Apple and Android devices, computers, some smart TVs and gaming consoles.
Foxtel Play isn’t really an on-demand streaming service. It’s effectively Foxtel without the set-top box, streamed via the internet. You choose genre package of channels like you do with Foxtel. The main difference is no-lock in contract.
However an advantage is that you can get live content such as news and sport. Costs vary depending on your package. Foxtel Play is also available on a wide variety of devices including Apple and Android devices.
Foxtel Play has a 2 week free trial available.