Let’s face it, we’re all pretty proud of the fact that in terms of illegally downloading, Australia is up there. Sure, in sheer numbers, America outstrips us, but if you’re looking at the percentages, we Australians can definitely hold our own.
The government, Foxtel, and various rights-holders have been pretty avid about stopping downloading by trying to impose various laws and fines, but let’s be real – none of us are likely to stop downloading anytime soon. There is a lot of television and film out there, and Australia wants it.
But in the interests of helping our readers, we’ve put together the five best streaming services available. Sure, it doesn’t cover everything, and if you really do want to watch a film in your home right after it’s released in cinemas, we can’t help you. But if you are willing to pay a little to be able to watch a huge array of entertainment, then this might help.
Australia’s Netflix equivalent. It used to only mail physical copies of DVDs to people’s houses (booooring), but now it does streaming! In fact, it primarily does streaming now, and you can pay an extra few dollars if you really like having a physical version to put in your DVD or Bluray player. It starts at $9.99 and $12.99 buys you deliveries.
As for content, it does both television and films, with an extra premium option for hit films and shows. Unfortunately, there isn’t a subscription option, with each premium movie costing $5.99 for 48 hours and each television episode costing $2.99 for unlimited streaming.
PROS: Australian, it does physical copies if you like, has a decent range.
CONS: You have to pay extra for pretty much everything, especially premium movies.
This is a bit of a stretch, because Freeview Plus is actually only available on selected televisions (right now, LG and Sony), and you need a smart TV and a broadband connection. BUT if you have those, then you’re in luck, because Freeview Plus is pretty useful – it’s basically just catch-up TV, but all in the same place. Instead of going to the Channel Ten website to catch up on the Bachelor, instead all of the catch up services are in one place.
PROS: Free, lots of Australian content.
CONS: Lack of films and timely overseas content, need the right TV and connection ):
I am not a great lover of Foxtel, or the rest of the Murdoch Corporation. But Presto is one of the big streaming services in Australia, and at $9.99, they’re not too bad – and apparently television is coming soon.
Presto has a lot of studios signed on, including MGM, Paramount Pictures, Roadshow Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Disney, as well as getting access to all seven of Foxtel’s movie channels.
PROS: Good quality movies, fairly trustworthy brand.
CONS: Run by a evil company (like everything else), irregular content that changes month to month, no TV yet.
This is one of the more recent (and better) streaming services out there, but as the name might suggest, it focuses on anime. Madman’s AnimeLab only launched a few months ago but it’s definitely worth a try. From our favourite magical girl anime, Sailor Moon, to Gurren Lagann, AnimeLab has a healthy roster of anime and a lovely clean interface, which can be accessed via web browser or their tablet apps. While there are some ads, it definitely doesn’t detract from the experience, and it gives Australians an opportunity to stream quality anime. It’s still in beta, which makes me very excited for what’s coming next for this service.
PROS: It’s free! Plus, great interface, multiple ways to view, great selection, and more arriving.
CONS: Only good for anime, ads before episodes, still in beta.
You didn’t think there’d be an entire piece about streaming without a mention of Netflix, did you? Netflix and Hulu are the two foremost streaming services in the US, and it’s clear why.
Netflix offers a huge range of content across both television and film, not to mention they do great original content – for example, Chelsea Peretti’s recent comedy special, or the last season of Arrested Development, or the critically acclaimed Orange is the New Black. While it doesn’t provide bang-up-to-the-minute films, it does have a great range of both films and TV shows, both old and new.
On the more TV side of things, we have Hulu. Hulu is a gift from the heavens – the free version allows anyone to view the four most recent episodes of a TV show, five days after they’ve been aired. Hulu Plus allows the subscriber to access everything – the newest episodes as well as back episodes of the various shows they have up there. Shows like Black-ish and Selfie that are non-existent in Australia can be viewed on Hulu.
Of course, the issue with both of these streaming services is that they’re not accessible in Australia, unless you want to cheat a little.
While Netflix is coming to Australia sometime in 2015, it’s highly unlikely that we will receive the same level of content in Australia, thanks to the way that rights have been spread out between providers. So there are two ways to go with Netflix. Either wait for the official Netflix Australia, which should be coming in a few months, or simply use a VPN or geo-blocker to trick them into thinking you’re in the US. You’ll also have to give them an American postcode. (You didn’t hear it from me.)
On the other hand, Hulu doesn’t seem to have any solid plans to come to Australia, which is easily solved with the same geo-blocker software. The only problem with that is that technically violates both Netflix and Hulu’s terms of service, which means it’s possible for them to cancel your account if they find out.
PROS: Together, you have pretty much everything, they’re not too expensive, they’ve both got excellent service.
CONS: You’ll have to go against their terms of service and do a little bit of techno-magic on your computer to gain access.