It had to happen sooner or later – Australia is catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to digital streaming media (Whether our antediluvian communications infrastructure can handle the demands that widespread video streaming will place on it is a topic for another time – or perhaps another federal election.) The impending launch of Netflix in Australia has elicited strong responses from competing providers, so we had TRAVIS JOHNSON get square-eye testing out what’s currently on offer.
How much: $10/month
Launched on Australia Day, Stan is a joint venture from Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media. Thanks to an umber of partnerships, Stan has an impressive roster of content up already, with the flagship being the Breaking Bad spinoff, Better Call Saul, whose first episode became available on Monday night. Their film offerings are pretty killer bee, too, with plenty of prestige and blockbuster flicks complemented by quality older material – they’ve got the entire James bond series, for example. They’ve also announced a commitment to producing original Australian content, of which the new miniseries Gallipoli can be considered the first salvo. An aggressive marketing campaign means they’re attracting more interest than their competitors, too.
How much: $9.99/month for movies or TV, $14.99/month for movies and TV
Foxtel partnered up with Seven West Media for this one, which already loses points for being above the $10 price point set by the Invisible Hand. However, the selection of entertainment on offer may make that extra $5 for the full package worthwhile. Particularly impressive is the range of prestige television series: you’ve really got no excuse not to get caught up on The Wire or Deadwood now, or to see who sane people initially thought Dexter was worth watching. Plus there’s Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, Californication and more.
How much: $9.99/month, more for DVD/Blu Ray delivery
The grand old dame of Australian streaming, Quickflix’s big advantage is that they’ve amassed a truly impressive catalogue of titles over the years – if you’re after an obscure cult flick for an evening’s entertainment, you’ve got a better chance of finding it in the bowels of the Quickflix library than anywhere else. They also keep up a steady stream of to new releases. The problem is that Quickflix is shackled to a premium pricing model. Those newer films will cost you extra on top of your subscription – $5.99 for the latest offerings – which does not look good against the one-price deals offered by their competitors . Films tend to linger in that premium category, as well: Iron Man, which was released in 2008, still attracts a $3.99 price.
Of course, the landscape may change completely when Netflix lands (legally) in Australia. At the time of writing Netflix have yet to release any concrete info on their pricing or content offerings for the Region Down Under (although if we’re going to speculate: probably around $10, probably without House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, which Foxtel has exclusive rights to).
It’ll be interesting to see if their reputation and brand name recognition will serve them well against established local providers with deep libraries. In the meantime, Stan is offering a four week trial period, Quickflix a three week trial, and Presto anywhere up to two months if you shop around – pick one and give it a shot.