UPDATED: Australia’s best streaming services compared

Intro, Price and Devices

Updated: The Stan app is now available on Xbox One consoles with console-exclusive features, and a native Presto app is now available on a range of devices – details below!

Netflix may be the leading internet TV service in the US, but the streaming giant has some stiff competition down under, and not just from incumbent Quickflix.

Netflix joined the ranks of acting players in the Australian streaming market on March 24th, following the official launch of Stan on Australia Day last year, and the release of the Presto TV entertainment package only a week or so before that.

We will update this comparison as further device connectivity and new content deals are rolled out. In the meantime, this is TechRadar’s assessment of how these subscription streaming services stack up and which ones you should be keeping an eye on in 2015.

Price

Stan

Stan only offers one subscription services, which confirmed to cost $10 per month after a 30-day free trial.

Presto

Foxtel’s Netflix rival comes in a few flavours. $14.99 per month with a 30-day free trial will get you both movies and TV content, although you can also choose between the Movie pack or TV pack for $9.99 each.

Quickflix

Australia’s oldest surviving SVOD service starts at $9.99 with a 14-day free trial. The streaming service can be packaged with a DVD delivery service for $19.99, or the DVD service alone is available for $12.99. Quickflix also has a premium service where purchase new release titles can be purchased individually as pay-per-view.

Netflix

Last to the race and keeping quiet about pricing, Netflix was able to undercut all the other streaming products, starting at $8.99 per month. This entry-level Netflix price only gets you a single stream in standard definition. $11.99 per month will get you an extra stream and access to high definition resolution. Four streams and access to Netflix’s 4K content will mean your monthly subscription price lines up with the cost of the presto service at $14.99 per month. There is a possibility that the introduction of a Netflix Tax may raise the price slightly in the near in future.

Devices

Netflix Devices

Stan

Though StreamCo’s service could only be accessed via iOS and Android apps at launch, Stan continues to make its users happen by adding to its list of compatible devices.

Android users can then view content on their TV via the Chromecast dongle while Apple AirPlay enables iOS enthusiasts to stream content to their Apple TV.

Stan has also introduced a native Apple TV app, that allows users to view the service without the need for AirPlay functionality.

On a Mac, the service can be accessed via Safari or Firefox, but it is not compatible with Google Chrome at this point in time.

Firefox, Chrome and some iterations of Internet Explorer are compatible with Stan on various Windows operating systems.

Users can link up to six devices to any one account, and once this is full, swap over one device each month.

And, after months of waiting, Stan has delivered an app for gaming consoles – the service is now available to stream on PS3 and PS4 consoles, allowing users to navigate Stan’s selection from their TV screens.

Stan is now also available on a range of 2012-2015 model Samsung smart TVs, as well as a number of 2014-2015 model LG smart TVs – other smart TV manufacturers have yet to be announced.

Though there has been no word on an Xbox 360 version of the app, Stan is now available to stream on Xbox One complete with console-exclusive Kinect functionality that allows you to browse and control playback of content with your voice.

Finally, you can now watch Stan on the Roku 2-powered Telstra TV streaming box.

Presto

Presto recently released apps for smartphones including, iOS devices (later than the iPhone 5) and selected Android devices from Samsung (HTC, LG, Sony and ZTE). These smartphone apps can stream to your TV via Chromecast in the same way as the existing apps for iPads and selected Android tablets, which have been available since Presto’s launch.

It is also possible to use your computer’s AirPlay externally, to cast from your Mac to an Apple TV, but this option is not optimised for Presto. There is a Presto Anytime app for your iPad, but you can’t use that to Airplay content to your Apple TV.

A deal that was struck in March with Telstra means that you can finally watch Presto on the Roku 2-powered Telstra TV streaming box, which is the first TV-connected device that the service has appeared on.

In terms of consoles, Presto has now released an app for PS3 and PS4 which allows for proper television playback. Unfortunately, there’s no sign of an app for Xbox One and Xbox 360 consoles at present.

Presto sets a limit of four devices per account. After that, you can again only change one device per month, although you can use 2 devices on each account to stream different programs simultaneously.

Unless you plan on using just your computer to watch films, Presto is likely to be the most restricted in terms of usability, but if you’re worried about exceeding your data allowance, Presto has announced that Foxtel Broadband subscribers will receive no data limit when streaming Presto’s content.

Quickflix

Available directly through Samsung, Panasonic, LG and Sony smart TVs, Quickflix is also compatible with PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360.

It’s also available on a range of smartphones and tablets including iOS, both Google and Samsung Androids, Kindle Fire and Windows phone. As well as Chromecast, Quickflix can be connected through media devices such as TiVo, HUMAX, Kobo and Oppo.

As Quickflix has been available in Australia for some time now, it’s not surprising that this service has the most comprehensive device accessibility outside of Netflix.

Netflix

Netflix is available on Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Hisense, smart Televisions from launch. The US heavyweight has also brokered a deal with the Australian set top box and alternate cable TV provider, FetchTV to have an app directly on the device.

The Fetch TV app not only adds another new option for accessibility but also puts Netflix in front of the hundreds of thousand of Australians currently subscribed to Fetch.

And, just like Stan and Presto, Netflix is now also available to watch on the Roku 2-powered Telstra TV streaming box.

These combine with existing apps on Apple TV, Google Chromecast, iOS devices and both Android tablets and phones. Netflix will also be unique in offering apps on gaming consoles like the PS3, PS4, Nintendo Wii U and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Xbox One. New Xbox One consoles purchased at selected stores will also receive three months prepaid access to the streaming service.

Kids Programs and TV Content

Kids Programs

Stan

Stan’s core children’s programming comes from deals with the ABC and Viacom, the latter of which has the rights to the Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. channels.

Some of Viacom’s kids programs include the hit shows Avatar: The Last Airbender; Octonauts, Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, Bubble Guppies, and popular live-action shows like iCarly, VICTORiOUS, and Drake & Josh.

Stan also offers a decent collection of ABC favourites 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.

The BBC also gives Stan access to the show Charlie and Lola and documentaries from David Attenborough. Stan has great TV content for kids, but doesn’t offer the Disney movie titles that will be available on Netflix and Presto.

Presto

The Seven and Foxtel venture also has a content deal with Viacom, so it shares recognisable children’s titles including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Deals with other big children’s program distributors Saban, DHX Media and Hasbro Studios add an extensive range of shows that are suitable for the whole family. Classic Disney films like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Toy Story and Tarzan are also present, complementing the newer family hits like Frozen, Ice age 2, UP, and A Night At the Museum.

Quickflix

Quickflix has a decent collection of children’s films, though most of them are older titles. There are a few contemporary children’s programs from the ABC and the BBC thrown in as well, but in terms of TV, Quickflix isn’t thorough.

Paddington Bear, Sesame St and ’90s Australian young adult favourite Around The Twist are the type of programs that define the Quickflix offering. There are some great movies included but on the whole there is less new content for kids to engage with than the other services we sampled.

Netflix

Netflix had the movie premiere of DreamWorks Animation’s The Adventures of Puss in Boots in January, for its more established streaming regions around the world, and it intends to maintain its reputation for a solid level of kids content in Australia.

Netflix has also announced deals with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm for the distribution of children’s titles in Australia.

Netflix has brought over its specific settings that allow children to browse content by themselves without accidentally bumping into something inappropriate.

The child-friendly interface that allows kids to peruse a massive catalogue of titles ordered by their favourite mermaid or Pokemon character, offers a unique and engaging experience for kids.

With popular shows like Mako Mermaid and great children’s flicks like UP, Wall-E and Alice in Wonderland, Netflix has a lot of desirable content for the little ones.

Shows

Stan Content

Stan

Stan’s content lineup features the fruits of deals with Sony Pictures Television, CBS (includes SHOWTIME), MGM, BBC, ABC, Viacom, and SBS and World Movies making its TV offering one of the most robust of the three live services.

Following in the footsteps of Netflix, Stan has announced that it is working on original locally-produced content including a six part TV series based on the film Wolf Creek and a mini-series called Enemies of the State. New shows like Gallipoli and a solid range of Aussie films combine to show the local streaming service’s commitment to quality Australian content.

Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, Power, UnReal, Power, Community, Lost Girl, Dig, Gallipoli and Better Call Saul are new and acclaimed TV titles that will be exclusive to Stan for the entire life of each series. There’s also a good mix of popular and up-and-coming shows available on the service.

To get an idea of the kinds of shows that the service offers, check out our list of the 25 best shows on Stan.

Presto

Presto brokered a deal with HBO for its launch in 2015, which includes access to 13 popular premium shows. The latest seasons of Boardwalk Empire (currently only pay-per-view on Quickflix) will be exclusive to the Presto service.

Presto has also confirmed a deal with Showtime giving subscribers access to shows like Dexter, Californication, Deadwood and Ray Donovan. This content is complemented by selected shows from Seven West Media and Foxtel making Presto’s selection decent, but still comparatively slim in range (with notably fewer exclusives).

With recent additions of the first 4 seasons of The Walking Dead, the early back catalogue of Modern Family, all nine seasons of The X-Files and the eight-part drama series, The Slap — based on Christos Tsiolkas’ best-selling novel of the same title — Presto is maintaining its commitment to continually add new content. That said, whether these new additions actually challenge the calibre of content from Stan and Netflix, or rather, simply keep the service afloat in a competitive area, is a valid question.

For a better idea of the shows that the service offers, check out this regularly updated listing of the 25 best shows on Presto.

Quickflix

Quickflix currently has back catalogues of HBO shows like True Blood, Entourage, The Sopranos, and The Wire available on its subscription service.

There are also BBC titles like Sherlock, Little Britain, Faulty Towers, The Office and Torchwood, SBS titles like The Killing and Wilfred, and a huge range of films available on the $9.99 per month plan.

Netflix

Netflix had a major win negotiating the Australian rights to its flagship original title: House of Cards, resecuring the title from Foxtel and it also has three seasons of its other hugely successful original show: Orange is the New Black.

The company has also shifted its focus to a global content acquisition strategy, which will allow it to avoid negotiating local distribution rights in the future. This means that, over time, the Netflix content available in each country will begin to converge.

Other Netflix Originals currently available on the service include Marco Polo, Bloodline (featuring Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; Chelsea Handler, Marvel’s Daredevil, Sense8, BoJack Horseman, Virunga, Mission Blue, and Uganda Be Kidding Me.

A recent deal with Beyond Distribution also will bring local stand-up comedy from Carl Barron, Arj Barker, Kitty Flanagan, Jimeoin and the Umbilical Brothers to the service. At launch, Netflix already had a solid content offering, with a number of highly desirable titles and a thorough back catalogue.

You can find more information about what the service offers in our regularly updated Netflix content line-up article.

Alternatively, you can check out our recommendations for the 25 best shows on Netflix.

Movies, Quality and Verdict

Movies

Stan

Stan’s recent Roadshow Entertainment deal secured some desirable titles that are available immediately including The LEGO Movie, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, The Wolf of Wall Street, Edge of Tomorrow, The Inbetweeners 2, The Judge, and Australian films Wolf Creek 2 and Felony.

The Imitation Game, the comedy St. Vincent, and Golden Globe winning biopic Big Eyes will also be available later in the year.

Stan already had a competitive line-up of titles from its MGM deal, that will see titles like The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, 21 Jump Street and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo appearing.

MGM has also contributed a number of classic films like When Harry Met Sally, The Silence of the Lambs, West Side Story and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Stan also has content from SBS World Movies including films from over 45 countries in more than 70 languages and big Australian titles like Animal Kingdom.

Presto

Presto’s movie service precedes the new Entertainment package and has already accumulated a decent collection of movies.

Since the start of 2015, Presto has given its customers access to new titles such as Captain America: Winter Soldier, Thor the Dark World, American Gangster, Philomena and Layer Cake. The movie selection is decent, but it should be when you consider that it’s the same price as the other services combined.

Quickflix

Quickflix offers a somewhat eclectic mix of films. Because there’s a pay-per-view movie streaming option on Quickflix, the newest home rental titles are placed there first, meaning what ends up in the subscription movie basket is either good but old or seems as though it’s scraping the barrel in terms of quality.

Because it boasts a tonne of films, this service is more suited to movie buffs looking for a comprehensive back catalogue rather than access to the very latest releases.

Netflix

Netflix also has a deal with Village Roadshow Entertainment, meaning it will share a number of movie titles with Stan, including; The Lord of the Rings, Oceans Eleven and The Matrix trilogies.

So far, the titles available in March will include Marvel”s Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks.

Other than this the Netflix film collection seems to sit inline with Stan and Presto, but Netflix stands out in the amount of documentaries it has.

Quality

Presto Quality

Stan

Stan gives you the option of using its automated bit-rate adaption technology to peg the display quality to the speed of your internet connection. Alternatively you can choose to watch titles in HD, and SD if you’re watching on portable devices.

Preto

Presto currently only offers SD streaming, making it the lowest of the four in the image quality stakes.

However, the company has recently announced that it has begun testing for HD streams, which it plans to provide to its customers in the near future.

Quickflix

Quickflix offers standard definition videos with HD options on selected titles.

Netflix

Netflix has various prices for access to the different definitions available on the service. Purely SD is the least expensive at $8.99 per month and access to 4K is $14.99 per month.

Netflix also has an automatic bit-rate monitor that will optimise picture quality according to internet speed. Unlike Stan though, Netflix streams won’t have to re-buffer at the new image quality, so there is no interruption when changing definition.

Unmetered downloads

Watching movies online will use a decent amount of your monthly bandwidth and if you’re contemplating signing up to one of these subscription video services, you may want to look into the different deals that each have made with ISPs. These deals allow unmetered downloads through specific ISPs on home broadband plans.

Stan

Unfortunately Stan has no partnerships with ISPs. It has announced a deal with Vodafone, although no details have been confirmed about what’s included in the partnership at this time.

Presto

Telstra fixed line broadband and Foxtel Broadband will not charge you for downloaded Presto content.

Quickflix

Also lacking in ISP love.

Netflix

A deal with iiNet that excludes satellite, NBN wireless, business accounts and mobile internet plans will give all other iiNet plans access to unmetered Netflix. iiNet subsidiaries internode, Westnet and Adam also offer unmetered Netflix.

From April 17th, Optus’ fixed home broadband plans will offer unmetered Netflix. Optus will also give new customers a free 6 month subscription to Netflix until July 5th.

Verdict

Quickflix

Stan

If you are already subscribed to the Apple ecosystem with an Apple TV and an iPhone, iPad or Mac, then it would be hard not to give Stan a solid recommendation.

Its compatibility with Apple products makes it easy to use and the service offers a good selection of titles from new releases to classics in both film and TV.

Stan has a unique number of Australian movies, local TV and has planned two original television series – including a mini-series of Wolf Creek and Enemies of the State (a drama about the controversial Australian politician Lionel Murphy that will be partly written by Australian journalist Tony Jones).

Stan’s major downfalls are; a lack of ISPs deals that offer unmetered downloads and limited device connectivity that relies on less consistent casting technology.

As a whole, Stan offers users access to a great range of TV and Movies that can be viewed in in high definition for $10 per month and it’s the only Australian service that, in ways, really challenges Netflix as the best streaming service.

Presto

Presto has a great movie selection and the buffering on the systems work well, but it’s hard to really experience the prestige of the titles on your television when you can only watch content in SD.

While Presto has a number of noteworthy TV shows, it’s considerably more expensive than Stan and the equivalent Netflix tier. Netflix does have an equally priced option, but it is for 4k content – a file quality that can be projected onto a cinema sized screen without quality loss.

Overall the TV catalogue seems slightly less extensive, with fewer exclusives and a number of partial shows offerings.

Although Presto’s recent release of apps for smartphones makes the platform more versatile, the only way to stream to the Television is through Chromecast. The service does have plans to release an app for Telstra’s digital set top box, the T-Box, making a little headway towards direct connectivity, but it isn’t there yet.

Presto offers a decent range of content at a price that many Australians would find surprisingly inexpensive, but it’s still some way off the value offered by Stan and is likely to feel glitchy and fickle once Netflix launches in March.

Quickflix

Quickflix has a decent selection of TV shows available, and there are apps for a wide range of devices.

The premium service means that if you really want to watch a particular show then you’ll have the option to pay for it. Furthermore, if you’re the organised type and don’t mind the effort, forward planning and extra monthly cost required to have DVDs mailed to you, then you can actually save a decent amount of money on highly desirable shows like the Game of Thrones series.

Purely in terms of its subscription streaming, Quickflix’s TV selection is the weakest on offer, and the company seems to be losing the awareness war with the arrival of these other newer competitors.

While Presto, Stan and Netflix all celebrate new content on an almost weekly basis, Quickflix seems to have little to celebrate.

What’s more, its UI is slow, and counter-intuitive on many devices, leaving it well behind the settled dust of the likes of Netflix.

Netflix

Netflix has been the dark horse in this race, holding off on details about pricing until the last minute and scooping two deals with Aussie ISPs that will give a broad range of users access to unmetered downloads.

The service has some amazing original content. Shows like House of Cards, Bloodline and the new Daredevil series, hold their own against the best new television shows available anywhere in the world. Content deals with Warner Bros., BBC, FOX, NBC Universal, Village Roadshow Entertainment, Beyond Distribution, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and The Walt Disney Company, mean that it also has access to an enormous amount of TV shows and movies.

Netflix is unique in offering access to 4K content and overall device compatibility surpasses the best of the Australian services, Quickflix.

The most dramatic advantage for Netflix is its superior streaming technology. Years of experience in delivering subscription television to a diverse range of countries has allowed the company plenty time to iron out glitches and deliver a consistent hassle-free service.

Though Stan and Presto are tweaking their streaming tech every day (Stan has developed a lot since launch when it had problems with progress bars not disappearing and inconsistent apple TV casting) Netflix still has the technological edge.

This carefree user experience is complemented by a unique back-end algorithm that takes great effort to find and suggest personalized lists of titles you may want to watch next.

This may seem trivial if you are not familiar with streaming services, but consistently knowing exactly what you want to watch next, can be tricky and searching through a ton of titles is not an overly appealing experience.

The list of Australian movies and TV shows available on Netflix isn’t as comprehensive as Stan, but that is really the only area that the service was found lacking.

The fact that it has multiple unmetered ISP deals will mean it is a far less expensive option initially (provided you’re with a compatible ISP) and the different subscription options offer competitive rates for quality services.

If you already have a large home broadband plan, Apple devices and really care about Australian content, then Stan sneaks in as the better service for you. In almost every other case though Netflix is currently the best streaming service you can get.

That said, Stan, Presto and Netflix are all services that offer a completely new TV and movie experience, which is significantly more competitive than anything we’ve seen before in Australia.

It’s worth some private investigation into the content of each service, as personal preference of shows is likely to be the determining factor, at the end of the day.

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