Now that streaming media has become a mainstay in Australian homes, Aussies have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to getting their home entertainment fix.
When combined, Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime Video and Foxtel Now offer an enormous range of content that can be instantly streamed into your home. However, if you can only afford one subscription service, narrowing down a definitive choice can be harder than it seems.
As each service brings with it a unique range of television shows and movies aimed at different segments of the streaming audience, not to mention differing price points, device compatibility and streaming qualities, we’ve taken it upon ourselves bring you an in-depth guide to what you can expect from Australia’s four major SVOD platforms.
With the constantly evolving nature of each service discussed in this guide, we will endeavour to keep you updated on any significant changes and updates that may occur to these streaming giants in the future.
Here’s how the Australian streaming situation stacks up in 2018.
Probably the best thing about having so many streaming options to choose from, is that it forces each service to be priced competitively.
Netflix offers the cheapest stream of the main three, with a single stream in standard definition at $9.99, which, if we’re being honest, isn’t particularly good value, but may appeal to those who live alone and have a poor quality internet connection.
Thankfully, for $13.99 a month you can get a dual-stream subscription that offers HD streaming quality.
If 4K streams are what you’re after, you’ll need to subscribe to Netflix’s premium package, which costs $17.99 a month and allows you to watch the service on four devices simultaneously. This is probably the most ideal subscription for families with differing tastes in shows and movies.
Though Netflix is obviously working off of how it’s priced overseas, Stan has chosen to come out at the low, no-nonsense price of $10 a month. That’s for everything the service has to offer at a maximum resolution of 1080p.
If you want to make use of your 4K TV though, you can upgrade to a Premium Stan subscription for $15 a month. So far, Stan has a steadily growing 4K content lineup, including shows like Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Preacher and Wolf Creek, and movies like Ghostbusters, Taxi Driver, Arrival and Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy.
These kinds of prices cut straight to the point – once you’ve tested the service’s 30 day trial, you’re either on board with forking over a tenner (or an extra fiver) each month, or you’re not.
Undercutting Netflix’s pricing substantially, Amazon has a special introductory offer that grants new subscribers access to the service for a monthly fee $4.99 for the first six months, after which it will renew at US$6.99 each month after that.
Foxtel Now is different in that it offers a number of different content packs (split into Starter packs and Premium packs) so the user can tailor their subscription to their viewing habits.
The minimum price for Foxtel Now has been increased to $25 per month, which includes the Pop and Lifestyle packs.
You’ll probably have to sign up to at least a couple of packs to get a decent selection of shows overall. As we’ve already mentioned, Lifestyle and Pop are now bundled together, while the individual Kids and Doco packages have been scrapped entirely — if you want that content back, you’ll have to pony up for the $104 All Packs bundle.
Thankfully, the Drama package is still around, and is still priced at $15 per month (though you’ll get $5 off when you sign up).
The Movies pack will still set you back $20 a month and the Sports package remains unchanged at $29 per month. Seeing as you’re obligated to sign up to the Pop and Lifestyle packs, the minimum cost for watching sports on Foxtel Now has been raised to $54 per month.
For many people, the decision of which streaming service to sign up for may come down to the devices they own.
Netflix has the biggest global reach and has been around the longest, which is why it can be streamed on the largest number of devices.
The Netflix app is available on a wide range of smart TVs from manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Philips and Hisense, though you should check your television model to see if the service is supported. Stan is available on all current Samsung smart TVs, Sony smart TVs (running Android TV) and all LG smart TVs running WebOS software.
Stan is also streaming on Hisense smart TVs from 2015 onwards, and we’re seeing the app pop up on more and more manufacturers sets. Basically, if you buy a new smart TV locally, chances are that it will play Stan.
At launch, Amazon Prime Video only offered its service in Australia through computer browsers, however, the Amazon Prime app has now appeared on a number of 4K smart TVs, including models from Sony, Samung, LG and more. Before settling on Prime, you should check and see if you smart TV has an app for it.
If your smart TV is of the 4K/UHD variety, chances are that its Netflix app supports 4K streaming. You can also get a 4K Netflix stream for the latest wave of Ultra HD Blu-ray players, such as the Panasonic DMP-UB900 and the Samsung UBD-K8500. Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox One S, also offers 4K playback.
The Apple TV also supports Netflix and has features built around service, such as the ability to use Siri to search for titles by voice, which places Netflix titles appear alongside iTunes listings. A Stan app is also available for Apple TV, but Amazon won’t allow its app on Apple TV or Chromecast for business reasons. With that said, you should be able to display Amazon Prime Video on your Apple TV through AirPlay. So far, Siri functionality is only available to Netflix.
When it comes to game consoles, Netflix has the biggest reach, with apps for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One S, PS3, PS4 and the Nintendo Wii U. Stan has most of the consoles covered but lacks support for Xbox 360 and Wii U.
It’s also possible to watch Amazon Prime Video on home gaming consoles, including the Xbox One and PS4, and you can also watch the service using Amazon’s Fire TV Stick.
Netflix and Stan are also available on Fetch TV, which is quite handy for the hundreds of thousands of Australians currently subscribed to Fetch.
If you don’t have any of the TV-connected devices listed above and still want to watch Netflix and Stan on your television, the two services can also be streamed to a Google Chromecast, which ostensibly provides regular TVs with smart TV functionality (so long as you have a smartphone or tablet to stream from). That said, Amazon Prime Video is not supported on Chromecast.
Foxtel Now works on iOS and Android devices, Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra, PC and Mac and the newly-released Foxtel Now streaming box. Finally, you can also watch Netflix and Stan on the Roku 2-powered Telstra TV media streaming box.
When it comes to kids shows and movies, each service has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Stan has a wide selection of children-friendly shows that mostly stem from its partnerships with Turner Broadcasting (the Cartoon Network), the ABC and Viacom.
And, now that Stan is Disney’s new home for streaming content in Australia, subscribers now have access to an enormous library of classic movies from Disney and Pixar, such as the Toy Story trilogy, Finding Nemo, Frozen, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid and more, along with a wide selection of Disney Channel TV shows.
Cartoon Network favourites like Adventure Time, Ben 10, Regular Show, The Powerpuff Girls, Cow and Chicken, Generator Rex and Ed, Edd, n Eddy are all ready to stream on Stan.
Likewise, classic ABC titles like The Wiggles, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Guess How Much I Love You and Justine Clarke, as well as overseas titles like Octonauts, Angelina Ballerina, Bob the Builder, Thomas and Friends, Fireman Sam, Sesame Street and Mister Maker are available to stream on the app, and its Viacom deal brings with it a large range of shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr, like Avatar: The Last Airbender; Octonauts, Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, Bubble Guppies, and popular live-action shows like iCarly, VICTORiOUS, and Drake & Josh.
Like the rest of Amazon Prime Video’s content library, its Kids selection is quite sparse at present. You’ll find a number of Amazon Original kids shows you’ve probably never heard of, like Wishenpoof!, Tumble Leaf and Just Add Magic, alongside some tried-and-true kids movies classics, like The Little Rascals, Casper, Spy Kids and Babe.
Animation fans will be happy to know that Netflix has also produced some original shows based on classic DreamWorks properties, including Puss in Boots and How to Train Your Dragon.
Deals with other big children’s program distributors Saban, DHX Media and Hasbro Studios have also provided Netflix with numerous incarnations of Power Rangers and My Little Pony.
Special mention should also be given to inclusion of the classic Aussie kid’s show, Round the Twist, on both Netflix and Stan’s respective catalogues.
Foxtel Now offers plenty of kids shows and channels hosting a large number of Nickelodeon and Disney programs, though the only way to access them now is via its extremely pricey All Packs bundle, which’ll set you back $104 per month.
A wide and varied range of television shows are available on Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video, thanks to individual deals between each of the SVOD services and their content partners. Because of this, each service should have something for everyone in your family.
While there’s a lot of crossover when it comes to the availability of shows on each platform, perhaps the most important deciding factor comes down to the exclusives and original shows available on each service.
Netflix is without question the leader in this regard, with a large, global slate of original shows that are, for the most part, available in every one of its territories around the world. And if you want to access your own catalogue from abroad, then you should look to download the best Netflix VPN from our guide.
The service has achieved huge success with its diverse lineup, which includes award-winning shows House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, long-form superhero shows like Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones, internationally-targeted shows like Narcos, animated sitcoms such as BoJack Horseman and F is For Family, comedies like Fuller House, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Master of None, and countless stand up comedy specials, to name but a small selection from its rapidly-expanding library.
On top of this, TV series like Stranger Things, Black Mirror, Making A Murderer, Mindhunter and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have also found crossover appeal with mainstream audiences.
Though Stan is only available in Australia, it has already begun creating its own original content, having produced the improvised comedy series No Activity, the TV spin-offs of Wolf Creek and Romper Stomper, as well as the comedy series Plonk.
Stan is notable for also having a large range of exclusive shows in its stable, with big hitters like the Twin Peaks revival, Better Call Saul Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, Power, UnReal, Community, Lost Girl, Dig, Ash vs Evil Dead, Angie Tribeca and 11.22.63 tied to the service for the entire life of each series.
On top of this, Stan is the only service in Australia offering both the complete series’ of US sitcom classics Seinfeld and Friends, which are huge gets for the service. If it ever manages to secure The Simpsons (as unlikely as that may be), it’ll have the holy trifecta on offer.
Stan also fast-tracks new episodes of its exclusive shows as soon as they air overseas, a practise that both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have since adopted with such shows as Riverdale and American Gods.
As the newest service to hit Australian shores, Amazon Prime Video doesn’t currently have a huge TV content library on offer, then again, that probably goes a long way to explaining why the subscription price is so cheap.
Most people considering a Prime subscription are probably looking to watch The Grand Tour, the new car enthusiast show from the team behind the beloved series, Top Gear. If that’s what you’re after, you’ll happy to know that every available episode of the series is available on Amazon Prime Video in HDR, with new episodes arriving weekly.
Aside from that, other exclusive draw cards include American Gods, a hyped new show based on the immensely popular Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, Jean-Claude Van Johnson, which stars Jean-Claude Van Damme as a spy version of himself, The Tick, a comedic superhero series revival, The Man in the High Castle, which posits a world in which the Nazis won World War II, and The Terror, a horror anthology series based on a best-selling book.
Unlike the competition, Foxtel Now lets you also watch live television broadcasts, essentially giving you the regular Foxtel experience over the internet. Aside from this, most of the packages on offer, such as Drama and Pop (which have loads of HBO content split across them), are mostly filled with television shows. Fans of reality TV will get a real kick out of the selection here.
As with most SVOD services, the titles available on Netflix, Stan and Presto change occasionally according to content licensing agreements. That said, each service has a pretty decent collection of films aimed at slightly different audiences.
When it first launched, Australian Netflix had a much smaller content offering than its US counterpart. However, its focus on Original content over licensed material has made that issue largely irrelevant, with a huge selection of quality shows and movies now available.
Netflix Original movies like Bird Box, Bright and the critically acclaimed Roma have found much larger audiences on the streaming service than they likely would have if released through traditional channels, while unusual film experiments like The Ballad of Buster Scruggs might never have been made without today’s streaming model of distribution.
Amazon Prime Video offers a number of classic older films, though not many recent blockbusters are currently available to stream. Its recent Amazon Original film The Neon Demon, for instance, is currently geo-restricted.
Still, fans of B-grade cinema, including straight-to-video ’90s martial arts movies, ’80s horror movies and sleazy grindhouse flicks will find plenty to love on Amazon Prime Video. In fact, it blows all of the other services out of the water in this regard, with a rather big back catalogue of these kinds of films.
As was mentioned earlier, you’ll need a Movies package to watch feature films through Foxtel Now, though that will set you back $20 per month on top of a $10 Starter pack. Many of the movies are new releases, showing much of the content you’d expect to see on live Foxtel.
Stan’s amazing partnership with Disney has given the service a huge leg up over the competition when it comes to licensed content, with access to a wide selection of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm movies on offer.
It also provides a fairly big selection of Roadshow Entertainment titles, though previously available films like Mad Max: Fury Road have since dropped off the service. Thankfully, huge franchises like The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix are present and accounted for.
A content deal with MGM also provides Stan with a large back catalogue of classic films, including the entire James Bond series in glorious 4K quality, along with The Silence of the Lambs, When Harry Met Sally and a huge selection of Woody Allen films.
Stan has always been the leading streaming service when it comes to art films and world cinema, including access to films from over 45 countries in more than 70 languages, but now you can count mainstream blockbusters among its many licensing accomplishments.
All three services offer HD streams (unless you’re subscribed to Netflix’s lowest tier), however, Netflix is unquestionably the leader when it comes to streaming quality, as it offers the most 4K HDR content (top pricing tier only) of any of the services listed here.
Netflix Originals, with some exceptions, are generally available in 4K streaming quality. The service has also started streaming HDR (high-dynamic-range) and Dolby Vision content for many of its original shows and movies.
The service has an adaptive bit rate that adjusts itself based on the quality of your internet connection. It should be noted that, even if you have a blazing fast connection, Netflix will occasionally fail to reach full resolution during primetime hours due to congestion.
Stan also uses adaptive bit rate technology, however it also offers users the ability to select the streaming quality of its shows (where available). The Ultra setting offers full 4K resolution, though you’ll need to subscribe to the Premium package to see the benefits of the Ultra HD upgrade.
Unlike its competitors, Stan allows users to select the quality of their streams on smart devices, media devices and smart TVs. Simply select the cog icon and choose between Low, Medium and High quality streams. This is especially handy if you’re having buffering problems or if you’re streaming off mobile data.
With Netflix adding offline viewing to its subscription price, allowing using to download a selection of shows and movies to their devices for viewing outside of Wi-Fi networks, the service immediately increased its overall value.
Thankfully, Stan has followed suit, and now allows subscribers to download the vast majority of its content. This makes its $10 monthly price point even more of a bargain than it already was.
Amazon Prime Video also offers 4K HDR content, though with the varying quality of the shows and movies on offer, it’s a little tricky to know what’s available in SD, HD or Ultra HD until you start watching it. Original shows are, for the most part, available in 4K.
Foxtel Now is said to offer HD streams, but the quality is a mixed bag. Often blurry or with overly saturated colours, the picture quality here is a far cry from what Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video are offering. This really changes on a show-by-show basis. Game of Thrones looks pretty clean, though.
Though each service has its own strengths and weaknesses, Netflix is unquestionably the winner when it comes to device compatibility, original content and stream quality.
Its library of Netflix Originals continues to grow and maintain a generally high level of quality, with the service producing the kind of content that gives HBO a run for its money when it comes to premium programming.
When you ignore its standard definition pricing option (and we ignore it pretty hard around these parts), Stan’s flat $10 subscription fee is definitely more appealing for people who want access to a HD stream, but when you consider how many original shows Netflix produces, a couple of extra bucks a month is hardly a deal-breaker.
It’s great that Amazon Prime Video has made its way to Australia, and while it still has a long way to go in terms of growing its content library and list of compatible devices, it continues to add new content constantly, filling out the content selection with a number of gems.
On the plus side, the service is quite inexpensive at the moment, so if you want to try it out for yourself anyway, you can do so without breaking the budget.
We love the sheer amount of content available on Foxtel Now (it really does leave the competition in the dust in this regard), though getting a decent selection up will hurt your wallet in the long run.
Still, when all is said and done, there’s no denying that Netflix truly is the king of streaming media in Australia.