UPDATE: The latest edition to Stan's TV content lineup has just made the service even more desirable. The classic '90s sitcom Seinfeld will be available to stream in its entirety from Friday, November 11 – visit this article to find out more!
Now back to the original article...
Now that streaming media has become a mainstay in Australian homes, Aussies have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to getting their home entertainment fix.
When combined, Netflix, Stan and Presto offer an enormous range of content that can be instantly streamed into your home. However, if you can only afford one subscription service, narrowing down a definitive choice can be harder than it seems.
As each service brings with it a unique range of television shows and movies aimed at different segments of the streaming audience, not to mention differing price points, device compatibility and streaming qualities, we've taken it upon ourselves bring you an in-depth guide to what you can expect from Australia's three major SVOD platforms.
With the constantly evolving nature of each service discussed in this guide, we will endeavour to keep you updated on any significant changes and updates that may occur to these streaming giants in the future.
Here's how the Australian streaming situation stacks up in 2016.
Probably the best thing about having so many streaming options to choose from, is that it forces each service to be priced competitively.
Last to arrive to Australia, Netflix offers the cheapest stream of the main three, with a single stream in standard definition at $8.99, which, if we're being honest, isn't particularly good value, but may appeal to those who live alone and have a poor quality internet connection.
Thankfully, for $11.99 a month you can get a dual-stream subscription that offers HD streaming quality.
If 4K streams are what you're after, you'll need to subscribe to Netflix's premium package, which costs $14.99 a month and allows you to watch the service on four devices simultaneously. This is probably the most ideal subscription for families with differing tastes in shows and movies.
It should also be noted that a proposed Netflix Tax may raise the price slightly in the near in future.
Though Netflix is obviously working off of how it's priced overseas, Stan has chosen to come out at the low, no-nonsense price of $10 a month.
This kind of price cuts straight to the point – once you've tested the service's 30 day trial, you're either on board with forking over a tenner each month, or you're not.
Presto, on the other hand, has taken a different approach. Having originally launched solely as a movie streaming service, Presto eventually launched an accompanying television package.
If you're only interested in one of the two services, you can simply choose either one for $9.99 a month. If you want both, you can get the whole package at a reduced price of $14.99 a month. A subscription gives you access to 3 streams at once, though you can only register a maximum of 6 devices – if you want to switch devices, you have to go to the Presto website and do some tinkering in your settings.
For many people, the decision of which streaming service to sign up for may come down to the devices they own.
Netflix has the biggest global reach and has been around the longest, which is why it can be streamed on the largest number of devices.
The Netflix app is available on a wide range of smart TVs from manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Philips and Hisense, though you should check your television model to see if the service is supported. Stan is available on all 2013-2015 Samsung smart TVs featuring Smart Hub software, 2014-2016 Sony smart TVs (running Android TV) and all 2014-2015 LG smart TVs running WebOS and Netcast software. Presto can be streamed on selected Samsung smart TVs via Smart Hub and Sony's Android TV models.
If your smart TV is of the 4K/UHD variety, chances are that its Netflix app supports 4K streaming. You can also get a 4K Netflix stream for the latest wave of Ultra HD Blu-ray players, such as the Panasonic DMP-UB900 and the Samsung UBD-K8500. Microsoft's newest console, the Xbox One S, also offers 4K playback.
The Apple TV also supports Netflix and has features built around service, such as the ability to use Siri to search for titles by voice, which places Netflix titles appear alongside iTunes listings. A Stan app is also available for Apple TV, and Presto can be streamed to the device using AirPlay. So far, Siri functionality is not available to Stan or Presto.
When it comes to game consoles, Netflix has the biggest reach, with apps for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox One S, PS3, PS4 and the Nintendo Wii U. Stan has most of the consoles covered but lacks support for Xbox 360 and Wii U. As for Presto, the service recently launched an app for PS3 and PS4 consoles.
Netflix and Stan are also available on Fetch TV, which is quite handy for the hundreds of thousands of Australians currently subscribed to Fetch.
If you don't have any of the TV-connected devices listed above and still want to watch Netflix, Stan or Presto on your television, each service can also be streamed to a Google Chromecast, which ostensibly provides regular TVs with smart TV functionality (so long as you have a smartphone or tablet to stream from).
Finally, you can watch all three services on the Roku 2-powered Telstra TV media streaming box.
When it comes to kids shows and movies, each service has its own strengths and weaknesses.
Stan has a wide selection of children-friendly shows that mostly stem from its partnerships with Turner Broadcasting (the Cartoon Network), the ABC and Viacom.
Cartoon Network favourites like Adventure Time, Ben 10, Regular Show, The Powerpuff Girls, Cow and Chicken, Generator Rex and Ed, Edd, n Eddy are all ready to stream on Stan.
Likewise, classic ABC titles 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 are available to stream on the app, and its Viacom deal brings with it a large range of shows from Nickelodeon and Nick Jr, like Avatar: The Last Airbender; Octonauts, Ni Hao, Kai-Lan, Bubble Guppies, and popular live-action shows like iCarly, VICTORiOUS, and Drake & Josh.
Presto also has a content deal with Viacom and Turner Broadcasting, so it shares many titles with Stan, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, Adventure Time, Ben 10 and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The Seven and Foxtel venture also has the widest range of classic Disney and Pixar titles of the three major streaming services in its ever-expanding catalogue, including Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Frozen, Up, Cars, Finding Nemo and much more.
Netflix also has a wide-ranging partnership with Walt Disney, bringing with it films and TV shows from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm.
Animation fans will be happy to know that Netflix has also produced some original shows based on classic DreamWorks properties, including Puss in Boots and How to Train Your Dragon.
Deals with other big children's program distributors Saban, DHX Media and Hasbro Studios have also provided Netflix with numerous incarnations of Power Rangers and My Little Pony, and while some of those shows are available on Presto, the selection isn't anywhere near as extensive at present.
Special mention should also be given to inclusion of the classic Aussie kid's show, Round the Twist, on both Netflix and Stan's respective catalogues.
A wide and varied range of television shows are available on Netflix, Stan and Presto, thanks to individual deals between each of the SVOD services and their content partners. Because of this, each service should have something for everyone in your family.
While there's a lot of crossover when it comes to the availability of shows on each platform, perhaps the most important deciding factor comes down to the exclusives and original shows available on each service.
Netflix is without question the leader in this regard, with a large, global slate of original shows that are, for the most part, available in every one of its territories around the world.
The service has achieved huge success with its diverse lineup, which includes award-winning shows House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, long-form superhero shows like Marvel's Daredevil and Jessica Jones, internationally-targeted shows like Narcos, animated sitcoms such as BoJack Horseman and F is For Family, comedies like Fuller House, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Master of None, and countless stand up comedy specials, to name but a small selection from its rapidly-expanding library.
Though Stan is only available in Australia, it has already begun creating its own original content, having produced the improvised comedy series No Activity, the upcoming TV spin-off of Wolf Creek and the second season of Plonk.
Stan is notable for also having a large range of exclusive shows in its stable, with Mozart in the Jungle, Transparent, Power, UnReal, Community, Lost Girl, Dig, Gallipoli, Ash vs Evil Dead, 11.22.63 and Better Call Saul tied to the service for the entire life of each series.
Unlike its competitors, Stan also fast-tracks new episodes of its exclusive shows as soon as they air overseas.
Fans of HBO will likely want to consider Presto as their streaming service of choice, as it provides exclusive access to some of its most popular shows, including The Sopranos, True Detective, Boardwalk Empire, Entourage and more. Unfortunately, due to stipulations from HBO, Game of Thrones will not be appearing on any SVOD service other than the US-only HBO Now.
Zombie fans can gorge on complete seasons of the hit show The Walking Dead, which is only available to stream in Australia on Presto. The cult hacker show Mr. Robot is also a Presto exclusive in Australia, as is the anthology series, American Crime.
In terms of originally-produced content, Presto lags behind its competitors, having only produced the one-off Home and Away special event, Home and Away: An Eye for An Eye, and the bite-sized pregnancy comedy, Let's Talk About, starring Matilda Brown and her father, Bryan Brown.
As with most SVOD services, the titles available on Netflix, Stan and Presto change occasionally according to content licensing agreements. That said, each service has a pretty decent collection of films aimed at slightly different audiences.
Despite what people will tell you about Australian Netflix compared to its US version, the local service has a pretty impressive lineup of blockbuster titles which focus on quality over quantity.
Netflix's aforementioned partnership with Disney also extends to movies, with titles such as Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron ready to stream, as well as animated films like Big Hero 6 and Inside Out.
Netflix has also started acquiring and creating its own films under its Netflix Originals banner, with titles like Beasts of No Nation, Ridiculous 6 and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: Sword of Destiny already available to stream.
As mentioned earlier, Presto also provides access to a large selection of Disney animated films, overshadowing Netflix significantly.
Unfortunately, Stan doesn't provide access to any Disney content at all, which does feel like a pretty big hole in its otherwise impressive lineup.
It does however, provide a big selection of Roadshow Entertainment titles, including huge films like Mad Max: Fury Road, The LEGO Movie, The Hunger Games series, Edge of Tomorrow, The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and more.
A content deal with MGM also provides Stan with a large back catalogue of classic films, including the entire James Bond series (minus the most recent addition, Spectre), The Silence of the Lambs, When Harry Met Sally and a huge selection of Woody Allen films.
Presto is no slouch when it comes to big titles, either, with enormous blockbusters like Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles among its most recent acquisitions, along with off-beat genre films like Chappie and the Australian zombie flick, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead.
While Netflix and Presto's movie libraries are more mainstream in nature, Stan is easily the leading streaming service when it comes to art films and world cinema, with its SBS World Movies partnership providing access to films from over 45 countries in more than 70 languages.
All three services offer HD streams (unless you're subscribed to Netflix's lowest tier), however, Netflix is unquestionably the leader when it comes to streaming quality, as it's the only service that offers 4K Ultra HD content (top pricing tier only).
Netflix Originals, with some exceptions, are generally available in 4K streaming quality. The service has also started streaming HDR (high-dynamic-range) content, kicking off with the first season of Marco Polo and eventually adding it to more shows in the near future (though you'll need a smart TV that supports HDR to watch it that way).
The service has an adaptive bit rate that adjusts itself based on the quality of your internet connection. It should be noted that, even if you have a blazing fast connection, Netflix will occasionally fail to reach full resolution during primetime hours due to congestion.
Stan also uses adaptive bit rate technology, however it also offers users the ability select the streaming quality of its shows (where available). The high setting offers full 1080p resolution, the medium setting offers 720p resolution, and the low setting offers up a standard definition stream.
Unlike its competitors, Stan allows users to select the quality of their streams on smart devices, media devices and smart TVs. Simply select the cog icon and choose between Low, Medium and High quality streams. This is especially handy if you're having buffering problems or if you're streaming off mobile data.
Though Presto originally only offered SD streaming, it has since upgraded 60% of its library to HD, with the remainder of its content mostly unavailable in high definition.
Though each service has its own strengths and weaknesses, Netflix is unquestionably the winner when it comes to device compatibility, original content and stream quality.
Its library of Netflix Originals continues to grow and maintain a generally high level of quality, with the service producing the kind of content that gives HBO a run for its money when it comes to premium programming.
Netflix is also technologically superior to its competitors in every way, offering its subscribers 4K Ultra HD and HDR content that isn't available anywhere else.
When you ignore its standard definition pricing option (and we ignore it pretty hard around these parts), Stan's flat $10 subscription fee is definitely more appealing for people who want access to a HD stream, but when you consider how many original shows Netflix produces, a couple of extra bucks a month is hardly a deal-breaker.
While Presto has improved in leaps and bounds since its inception, upgrading much of its content into HD and bringing television shows into the fold, it has a long way to go when it comes to original content. It could also do with more device compatibility.
Thankfully, the service offers something for everyone thanks to its huge range of films, and its TV show selection is nothing to be sneezed at, either.
Still, when all is said and done, there's no denying that Netflix truly is the king of streaming media in Australia.