Beyond TV channels: Movie and TV subscription services in Australia

Need your entertainment (and lots of it) now? Here are some of your subscription video streaming options in Australia.

As the days of the video rental store get further behind us, the days of binge watching entire series while tucked up on the couch have taken their place.

If you’re feeling the need for some serious downtime with the remote control, these are some of your options for at-home entertainment overload.

Netflix 

Image courtesy: Netflix on the Google Play store

It is so easy to get trapped in a spiral of content on Netflix, especially because this service makes recommendations based on your previous viewing and what star-ratings you give out.

The benefit of Netflix is its many and popular “Netflix Original” series, created by the company itself, such as Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Daredevil, and loads of original kids cartoons can be found on there, as well as plenty of others.

This streaming service allows you to add multiple users and, depending on your subscription, multiple devices. The cost ranges from $8.99 a month to $14.99 a month, depending on what video quality and number of concurrent streams you want.

For users with small children, Netflix could truly ‘come of age’ later in 2016, when a deal between the streaming service and Disney is likely to come into effect, after which new releases from Disney would be exclusively available on the service in the US, although it is still unknown what effect this would have on ther service's Australian arm.

Stan

Image courtesy: Stan on the Google Play store

Stan is the subscription streaming service offered by the Nine Network and Fairfax Media. If you’re into Australian content, Stan is a good option to check out, as it has some local movies and shows that aren’t on offer from some US based services.

Think The Castle, the ABC’s Frontline, Angry Boys and the Wolf Creek TV series. Users can also watch plenty of global content including Top Gear and first access in Australia to Better Call Saul.

Stan costs $10 per month and lets you stream HD content on more than one device. It also offers a free 30 day trial for new users so you can check it out and compare it to other services.  

Quickflix 

Image courtesy: Quickflix on the Google Play store

This service has been around for quite a while and still offers movies in the home delivery format if you are hanging on to your DVD player.

You’ll find a good range of TV shows and movies on the standard Quickflix monthly subscription of $9.99.

If you’re in camp ‘need it now’, Quickflix might work for you, because it is able to offer new release content for an extra fee. A lot of the other providers can’t give you access to the new stuff until several weeks or months after its initial release.

Presto 

Image courtesy: Presto on the Google Play store

This is a joint offering between Foxtel and the Seven West Media, so you will have the chance to watch your favourite original Foxtel series such as Wentworth and Love My Way as well as offerings from Channel 7. Viewers will also be able to binge-watch some HBO hits like The Walking Dead or Entourage.

On Presto, you can choose between a movie or TV subscription for $9.99 a month, or you can combine both for $14.99. Your subscription will let you register four devices with which to view Presto content.

Free Services 

There really are a lot of options for streaming on-demand content in Australia.

As well as the subscription platforms, don’t forget that you can watch for free on ABC iView, Plus7, Ten Play, SBS on Demand and 9Now. You’ll be able to catch up on your favourite soap, documentary or series for free, providing you can handle the ad breaks.

Some of these platforms even offer live streaming, allowing you to watch your favourite regular local programming while you’re on the go.  

How video streaming works 

To access a streaming service, you need an internet connection and one of the following: a Smart TV [link to smart TV article], gaming console, smartphone, computer, tablet, Chromecast, or Apple TV set-top box.

There are a few other devices that will also work, but this is a good list to get you started. Some streaming services operate via an app, others through your standard internet browser.

Once you have paid your monthly subscription you should have access to your video streaming service’s library and be able to watch… and watch… and watch. As mentioned, some charge extra for premium or exclusive content, so check your subscriber options and decide what’s right for you.

It is important to remember that streaming content uses up your monthly internet data – this could be anywhere from around 500MB to around 7GB or above per hour depending on the quality you stream at. So while the services themselves can be very affordable, make sure you keep an eye on your usage meter while you're figuring things out at first.

Which service should you choose? 

It’s a tough question! No matter what service you choose there will be shows that you’re missing out on and content that you’re not interested in.

It’s a good idea to have a thorough look at the content on each service and choose according to what you like watching – although some services don’t let you view the library until you’re signed up… which shouldn’t actually be a major hurdle.

Get started with a free trial where possible, and contracts tend to be month-to-month so you shouldn’t be locked-in long-term and be able to cancel before the payments kick in.

Thanks in part to the rise of video streaming, Australians are consuming more and more content each year. Check out just how much Aussies are downloading to see if your monthly usage is ahead of the curve.