Online streaming services: How to choose your Netflix from your Stan

Online streaming services: How to choose your Netflix from your Stan

Having favourite television series, documentaries, sports coverage and movies available at the touch of a button is great, but how do you find the right online streaming service for you?

On demand online streaming services have been available in Australia for a few years now, and the choices available continue to grow.

Online streaming services or video on demand streaming services provide you with their online libraries full of video content, including television and movies, straight to your chosen compatible viewing device when you’re ready to settle in and view it.

Free ‘catch up’ streaming services

Gone are the days where you would feel bitterly disappointed about missing a much anticipated episode of Australian Story or First Tuesday Book Club on the ABC, for example. With ABC iview – a free online streaming service – you can catch up on any missed ABC favourites within 14 days of them having been broadcast. SBS On Demand offer a similar streaming option, as do other major television networks, free of charge.

Paid subscription streaming services

Then there are the commercial online streaming services available in Australia.  At the time of publishing this article those services, in alphabetical order, include:

  • Amazon Prime Video: Amazon Originals, television series, documentaries and movies from around the world.
  • Dendy Direct: Australian entertainment provider offering hand-picked film choices from Australia and around the world.
  • DocPlay: libraries of world documentaries.
  • Foxtel Play: choose from subscription library packages including lifestyle series; documentaries; kids shows; drama series; popular television series including Foxtel exclusives; sport; movies.
  • HayU: reality shows on demand
  • Netflix: Netflix originals, television series, documentaries and movies from around the world.
  • Quickflix: premium new release Hollywood movie rentals monthly along with hundreds of bonus movies.
  • Stan: television series and movies, including those exclusive to Stan.
  • (Telstra) Big Pond Movies: movies and television shows from blockbusters to classics.
  •  YouTube Red: music, videos and original YouTube shows.

Each of these streaming services offers different content choices, depending on the media partners involved in bringing the streaming service to you. They also differ in:

  • subscription choices and pricing
  • how many screens you can have viewing content at the same time
  • compatible devices to view the video content on
  • compatible internet browsers
  • video resolution requirements
  • minimum broadband speed requirements.

Confused yet? Here are some tips on how to go about choosing the streaming service that is best going to suit you, and your household.

Consideration #1: What movie and television genres and topics do you enjoy most?

Each streaming service offers unique, originally produced television series and movies. For example if having access to the latest series of Game of Thrones is a must, then Foxtel is for you. Stan offers a number of Australian television series and movies, as does Netflix if you’re a fan of local Australian content. If watching sport live from around the world is what gets your adrenaline going, then Foxtel Play would be high up on your shortlist.

Consideration #2: What can you afford to pay each month?

Perhaps your monthly budget is the best place to start your shortlist. How much are you able to pay each month for streaming services. If your budget is limited to $10 or less a month, then your decision just got easier. If your budget is unlimited and content is your priority, you’ve a long way to go yet to make a decision. At an affordable $10 per month for access to hundreds or thousands of titles, some viewers may be willing and able to subscribe to more than one streaming service.

Consideration #3:  How many other viewers might be viewing at any one time?

The monthly subscription fees across most of the streaming services available in Australia tend to step up from a basic monthly fee to a premium monthly fee based on how many screens you will be wanting to view in your household at any one time. In most cases, if there will only ever be one to three viewers on different screens at any one time, then the basic monthly subscription fee is all you’ll need.

Consideration #4: What devices will you be using for viewing & storage capacity?

Before trialling, or subscribing to, a streaming service you’ll need to consider which of your digital television sets; mobile phone or tablet devices; or gaming consoles you plan to be using to stream from and view on. On viewing devices such as mobile phones or tablets, you’ll also need to check you have sufficient storage space to download or stream the content. You’ll find all the required specifications on each streaming service provider’s website, or by giving them a call.

Consideration #4:  What video resolution do your viewing devices have?

Depending on which streaming service you are considering trialling, or subscribing to, you’ll need to check that you have the required minimum video resolution. For example, high definition (HD) may be a requirement in order to view the content.

Consideration #5: What broadband speed do you have available to you?

Different broadband services have different maximum speeds. If your broadband speed is a constant source of frustration because it is slow, or regularly congested, a streaming service subscription may prove frustrating if you end up viewing a favourite movie in disrupted, slow motion!  You may need to call up your internet or broadband service provider to confirm the maximum download speeds available to you based on the plan you are on, and the geographical area you live in. Once you know this, contact the streaming service provider you are considering to check that your broadband speed is adequate.

For more information

If you’re keen to start researching your options take a look at this Choice Magazine comparisontable to help narrow down to one or two choices.

Choice > Streaming TV and movie services compared

(image credit: kelly-sikkema-161155/

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