There are no shortages of streaming services available for Australian viewers.
Narrowing your choice down to one option can be tricky, especially when each service offers different content, exclusives and device compatibility.
We have researched four of the most popular options – Netflix, Stan, Foxtel Now and Amazon Prime – to give you an overview of each service and recommend which option may be right for you.
Price and features
Netflix offers one month free for new users and then has three pricing tiers. You can change, upgrade or cancel your plan at any time without cost, so you don’t need to stress about picking the right plan upfront.
The standard plan at $13.99 will be the sweet spot for many, with the quality upped to HD and two devices – perfect for couples and small families.
The premium plan is the most costly at $17.99 but adds Ultra HD streaming and four devices. This plan is ideal for cine-buffs with 4K TVs and larger families who will benefit from the extra device flexibility.
Stan has a 30-day trial period, allows users to change their plan at any time without a cost and has three pricing tiers (which are cheaper compared to Netflix).
The basic option is $10 per month and allows you to stream standard definition on one device at a time.
The standard option adds lots of extra value for just $12, including HD resolution and three devices. This is both cheaper and offers more than the Netflix standard plan.
The premium pack offers Ultra HD streaming and four devices for $15. The standard option provides a great balance of features for the price, with the other options looking less attractive comparatively.
Amazon Prime is the cheapest service of the roundup. There are no pricing tiers, just one service that is free for 30 days and then costs $4.99 per month until January 31, 2019, and renews at $6.99 per month thereafter.
Three devices are supported at once with all content streamed in HD (some titles are available in 4K for no extra cost). Amazon’s approach is the simplest to understand and is the most feature-rich for the price.
Foxtel Now takes a slightly different approach to Netflix, Stan and Amazon, allowing viewers to customise a content package to suit their needs. Essentially, you pick and choose the packs you want – originally, this meant your monthly fee could be as little as $10 or up to $120 plus.
There are also a few individual channels including Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United TV, all of which cost $5 each.
This pricing structure is great (albeit damaged by the entry pack change) if there is specific content that interests you, but not so good if you like to ‘channel surf’.
Another consideration when choosing a streaming service is what devices can be used to watch the content.
Netflix has broad compatibility with multiple devices and is even built into many smart TVs made by Hisense, LG, Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung and Sony. Netflix is also offered on streaming media players (Apple TV, Chromecast and Nexus player), gaming consoles (PS3/4, Wii U), Fetch set-top boxes, Blu-ray players (LG, Samsung and Sony), computers and smartphones/tablets running Android, iOS and Windows.
Stan also offers a healthy selection of compatible devices. Devices include smarts TVs (Samsung, Sony, LG and Hisense), Samsung Blu-ray players, gaming consoles (PS3/4, Xbox One), media streaming devices (Apple TV, Android TV, Chromoset, Fetch TV and Telstra TV) computers and smartphones/tablets running Android, iOS and Windows.
Amazon is supported on multiple devices but also makes their own hardware to stream content including Amazon Fire phone, TV, tablets and TV Stick. Prime is also supported on smart TVs, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes (Roku, Google TV, TiVo, Nvidia Shield), game consoles (PlayStation, Xbox, Wii) computers and smartphones/tablets running Android and iOS. You can check full device compatibility on Amazon’s website.
Foxtel Now has more limited compatibility when compared to Netflix, Stan and Amazon, although there is still likely to be a device most will have. Device compatibility includes the Foxtel Now box ($99), Chromecast, AIrPlay (Apple TV), Telstra TV, PS4 and computers and smartphones/tablets running Android and iOS.
The content offered by each service is probably the most critical factor to consider – unless you are on a strict budget. Each service has its own exclusive content, first-run access shows as well as a backlog of other content that can change on a regular basis.
Netflix has invested heavily in creating ‘Netflix Originals,’ new content made exclusively for Netflix, including 13 Reasons Why, Orange Is The New Black, Big Mouth, Black Mirror and Marco Polo. Netflix also has first-run access to many shows and thousands of older titles.
Amazon also has its own line of exclusive content such as The Grand Tour, Bosch, Jack Ryan, All Or Nothing and Mozart In The Jungle. As of March 2018, Amazon added a stack of content for subscribers in the USA – sadly, many of these movies and TV shows are not available in Australia.
Foxtel Now is a little different in that it lets you watch live television broadcasts (much like ‘regular’ Foxtel) and on-demand content. It is also one of the easiest services to customise, as you can pick the content packs that matter most.
At the end of the day, your choice of streaming service will come down to personal taste. Often no one service offers everything, but there are ones that are likely more suited to your tastes. Take advantage of the free trials to explore the services and pick the one that is right for you.
It is hard to pick one universal streaming service that is right for everyone, as each viewer has their budget, content preferences and device availability.
As a general guide, Amazon is the cheapest, Foxtel Now is the most flexible and allows you to pick the content that matters to you, while Netflix and Stan have very similar structures and pricing, with the middle or ‘standard’ tier making the most sense for the majority of viewers.