Australia is spoilt for choice when it comes to television.
- Free to air
- SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand)
- TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand)
New channels and services coming every day.
What’s best for you?
Right now, there are many services available in Australia, Netflix , Stan, Amazon Prime, Foxtel Now and Kayo to name a few.
So, it will come down to what kind of television you have, your budget, and what shows you want to watch.
Streaming means watching as you download, whereas “downloading” a video usually refers to permanently storing the file on your device for watching at a later time.
Streaming services are also called “video on demand” (VOD) services, and generally come in two models: monthly subscription and buy/rent.
Some platforms such as iTunes, Stan and Netflix allow you to both stream and download content, meaning you can download select TV shows and movies to watch at a later date without using up your data each time you view them, depending on what type of device you’re downloading to.
Subscription streaming services require an internet-connected device such as a computer, tablet, smartphone or smart TV to watch shows.
They charge a monthly fee that can increase based on the streaming resolution (SD, HD and 4K), and the number of devices that can simultaneously access the account.
This list covers the key subscription streaming services available in Australia.
- ABC iView
- Acorn TV
- Amazon Prime
- Kayo Sports
- SBS on Demand
- Tubi (Fox Entertainment)
- YouTube Premium (Advert free)
Set Top Box + Streaming Services
Combines Free TV, Catch-Up, premium channels, streaming apps, and movies all in one place.
Set top box with a digital TV tuner and video recorder.
Movies: How to rent/buy video
These options are a little different from subscription streaming services. Instead of paying a monthly fee to access as much content as the company has to offer, you create a free account and pay for videos-on-demand. Most offer different rates for SD and HD content, and TV shows are generally available for purchase, but not rental, on a per-episode, or whole season basis.
If you rent content, you get access to a movie for 30 days, but after you click play you only have 48 hours to watch it. Purchased content is added to your account for permanent streaming or downloading for offline viewing, depending on the service and the device you’re using.
- iTunes: Has movies and TV shows that can be watched on a PC or Mac through the iTunes software, on an iOS device such as an iPad or iPhone, or on a TV with an Apple TV. New release TV shows cost around $2–$3 per episode, while newer films range from $6 to $20 (rent/buy). It has a broad selection of big-budget flicks, popular shows and smaller titles. You can rent or buy movies, or buy TV shows, in SD or HD, with HD usually costing about $1 more.
- Google Play Movies & TV: Aimed at people using Android mobile devices and the Chromecast media streamer, although Google Play content can also be watched through a browser on a Mac or PC and the Chromecast iOS app. You can rent or buy movies, or buy TV series and episodes; HD videos are usually $1 more than SD. When renting you have 30 days to begin watching your movie, and 48 hours to watch it after you click play.
Which devices can stream video?
- Most smart TVs and some PVRs (personal video recorders) can access free-to-air TV catch-up services and some streaming services such as Netflix. They’ll need to be connected to the internet through your home network.
- Media streamers are hardware devices that connect to your home network. See below
- Dongles: More or less the same as media streamers but in a much smaller package. Though great space savers, they can compromise on some of the higher-end features in media streamers such as high-end audio outputs and 4K video.
- Game consoles such as the Sony PlayStation 4 and Xbox One can link to platforms such as Netflix and Stan.
- Desktop or laptop PC: you can access popular services such as Netflix, Stan and Amazon Prime Video on your computer, either via a web browser or as downloadable software. Most computers also include an HDMI out port, which you can plug into your TV, projector, monitor and so on.
- iPad (tablets) same as PC
- Apple TV has its own app store. It’s a hardware streaming device that plugs into a TV to play iTunes content and shows through streaming apps, and can also “cast” content from an iPhone, iPad or Mac wirelessly to the TV via Apple’s Airplay feature.
- Chromecast is also a hardware streaming device that plugs into a TV and is used to stream content from Android phones and tablets as well as iPhones, iPads and Windows and Mac computers to the TV.
- Foxtel Now box can cast Foxtel Now content in HD from mobile devices (Android or iOS), or computers to the TV. It can also cast content from streaming platform Stan as well as free-to-air catch up TV services such as the ABC’s iView.
- Yes, I want streaming.. go here
Each free-to-air TV broadcaster has an online catch-up service, which lets you view programs on your smartphone, PC, game console, smart TV etc., for a limited period. Most are online for two to three weeks after airing, though some can be longer.
They occasionally follow the streaming service model by uploading an entire series at a time, though this is rare across commercial networks.
- stream original content and syndicated series that don’t go to air
- provide large film libraries (particularly SBS) for free
- re-upload previous episodes of popular shows when a new season is due to air.
Catch-up services are free, but do run advertisements as you watch.