Beyond Netflix: A guide to 15 Aussie streaming services
With every week, it seems there's a new player on the Australian TV streaming market.
From the broad libraries of something like Netflix to the very specific offerings of Crunchyroll (you've never heard of Crunchyroll? Read on!) there's choices to fit every taste.
Want shows only about architecture? No problem. Looking for the news with a very specific message? That can be arranged. The latest blockbuster films in 4k clarity with surround sound to stream to your home theatre? It's out there.
But that's the problem.
With so many offerings available, finding what's right - and what's affordable - is turning into a long process.
The answer, as many viewers have found is to sign up to a few of the platforms then switch them on and off as needed.
If Ted Lasso is your favourite series ever, for example, sign up for a month of Apple+, binge the lot then deactivate your account until the new season lands.
Fans of a particular sport can sign up to Kayo (or Paramount+ for A-League), watch the season then opt-out.
It can be done, but like riding a train, you have to be careful to tap off at the other end or you'll continue to be charged.
It's also worth considering how many screens you'll be sharing to, the difference between a single-device account and one that offers four (or more) separate simultaneous streams can seem like the perfect argument for the low-price option, but sharing is caring... and cheaper.
Here's some of the most popular or most practical solutions to get the most out of streaming, why you might want them and what they'll cost you.
Cost: From $10.99 a month (with another price rise possible on December 26)
What it is: Netflix has become the default streaming service for many, with thousands of hours of first-run movies and series, many created specifically for the platform. It's a good place to start, but brace yourself for spending as much time looking for a show as you will watching it.
Highlights: Everyone's talking about Squid Game, but that's just one of a number of series (and films) exclusive to the platform. Try Red Notice for comedy/action/heist fun.
Cost: From $10 a month
What it is: Australia's leading rival to Netflix, this is another library of thousands of movies and series with many unique to the platform. With a lot of lesser-known offerings this often turns out to be the ideal place to find something you've never heard of that fast becomes a favourite.
Highlights: At the moment, not much is beating Yellowstone (starring Kevin Costner) for a sprawling decades-long Dallas-style saga of one family against the world.
Cost: From $14 a month
What it is: The streaming arm of Foxtel, Binge is fast becoming the third biggest player on the mainstream streaming scene, with a huge range of American and European offerings. For those who don't want to make the hefty investment of a Foxtel account, this is a good option.
Highlights: Succession, already one of the sharpest satires of the mega-wealthy and powerful, has moved up a notch with season 3, get on board!
4. Amazon Prime
Cost: from $6.99 a month
What it is: Huge in America, the Amazon Prime is the streaming arm of the mega-store Amazon, which means they have a LOT of money to buy content or make it themselves. This is where you'll find shows you'd never heard of that will become a favourite.
Highlights: The Grand Tour, Amazon's successor to Top Gear (and with the same stars) and if that's not enough Jeremy Clarkson, visit Clarkson's Farm for even more.
5. Apple +
Cost: from $7.99 with extra for first-run movies and series.
What it is: Still a fairly limited library, but featuring a lot of productions that simply can't be found anywhere else, an Apple+ subscription usually comes with any new device so sign up straight after Santa drops off the kids new iPad.
Highlights: Again, there's a lot of exclusive content here, but Ted Lasso, a drama/comedy asset in the world of premiere league football is one of the best series of 2021. By far.
Cost: From $11.99 a month
What it is: It's Disney! So basically, all the Disney (and affiliated) programming there is, which means Star Wars, Marvel, Star and more. Broken into mini-channel, there's a lot to explore here, but keep your eye out for the exclusive content with spin-off from favourite film franchises
Highlights: The Beatles' Get Back is spectacular, but a survey recently showed about 70% of Disney subscribers were there for Marvel content alone, so expect a LOT of that.
Cost: From $8.99 a month
What it is: The platform that replaced 10Play, this is where you'll find a lot of Ten's programming, plus a stack of American product from the (vast) Paramount /CBS libraries. A great place for shows that dropped off the Ten radar and international programming.
Highlights: Next year keep an eye out for the streaming premiere of a new season of the Australian Five Bedrooms.
Cost: From $25 a month
What it is: A must for sports lovers, Kayo pulls together football (pretty much all codes) cricket, basketball, boxing, table tennis, motor racing etc etc etc. With a range of pay-per-view special events, it's also a great option for getting a group of friends together for a big night.
Highlights: Aside from the obvious big sports, be prepared to fall in love with some obscure offering. Competitive Marble Run Racing, for example, is surprisingly gripping!
Cost: $8 a month
What it is: A unique news streaming service, Flash pulls together 20 news sources such as Al Jazeera, BBC World News, Bloomberg TV, CNN International, FOX News Channel, France24 and more, allowing users to curate which ones they get their information from.
Highlights: Anyone wanting a more world-focussed news service will be able to flick from the BBC to Russia Today for a much fuller picture of what's happening.
Cost: From $6.99 a month
What it is: From the AMC networks this is a collection of horror movies, horror series, documentaries about the characters, stars and makers of horror... you get the idea. Basically if you think you've seen all the scary movies out there, think again, this is next-level.
Highlights: Remember Creepshow? Shudder has commissioned new episodes and it's every bit a schlocky-terror filled as ever. Great fun.
Cost: From $6.99 a month
What it is: One of the leading streamers of UK and international television this is the go-to site for all the British series you love and a string of new ones that make you wonder why anyone would ever go and live in a murder-infested place like Midsomer.
Highlights: If you're a fan of quaint English towns with a dark underbelly, look no further than Whitstable Pearl, about a private detective working her local seaside town.
Cost: From $8.99 a month
What it is: OK, if the previous two options sound good, take note: Available here through Apple+ and Prime this is a giant collection of new and acclaimed TV and film, with a lot of original material. Includes the Acorn TV and Shudder line-ups.
Highlights: Mixing horror, Australian Indigenous culture and just great storytelling, one of the most anticipated series for 2022 is Firebite.
Cost: From $7.99 a month
What it is: If architecture, homes in all their various possibly configurations from luxury to tiny and just general series about the places we live and work are your thing, Shelter is FULL of options. A large catalogue of building-related programming around the world.
Highlights: Planet Home, a look at how people around the world have answered the question of how to live, is fascinating. Who knew a Yurt could be so comfortable?
Cost: From $8.99 a month
What it is: Another goldmine of series for British television fans, this has a great library of classics and new... with a great emphasis on hard-to-find classics. From the original All Creatures Great and Small to the remake, settle in for proper Brit telly.
Highlights: Outdated, un-PC and filled with more dad jokes than any series should rightly have, it's still hard not to laugh at Dad's Army, with 10seasons available here.
Cost: From $0.
What it is: A huge collection of anime cartoons, mostly Japanese but also from around the world, this is the definitive library for this style of entertainment, with multiple membership options, including one, ad-supported but free.
Highlights: If you're into anime, literally everything here is a highlight, but for beginners, check out the classic space western Cowboy Bebop (then try the live-action remake on Netflix).
And the freebies.
Just because you're streaming, doesn't mean you have to pay.
Aside from the usual "one-week free trial" most platforms offer and the ad-supported options (see Crunchyroll above) these are a great way to see if you like what they're offering, the free-to-air channels offer second-tier channels boasting unique content at no cost.
Usually these are live and catch-up, so if you missed last night's episode of MAFS for example, it's there to find (along with every other season) along with news, sport and a lot of shows that arrive as part of output deals but never make it to prime time.
There will be ads - and be warned, they're even more annoying than the normal TV ads, because the same ad is often repeated over and over - but check out:
The Nine network's live and streaming option, this is where you can catch up on shows you might have missed from the night, old seasons of favourites and browse a huge library.
7plus.com.au - Similar to Nine's offering this is live and/or catchup of Seven shows, plus a huge collection of programming you might never have heard of before.
SBS On Demand
sbs.com.au/ondemand - Again a catchup-up service, but also a great (and constantly updated) collection of international programming and films. A great place to find the latest buzz series.
iview.net.au - A huge site filled with ABC content past and present, plus a number of series and movies that for a variety of reasons, never made it to the free-to-air channel. Perfect for UK content.
Kanopy.com - An international library of film and television originally set up for students but now a huge resource available to anyone
beamafilm.com - Another library intended for students and researchers, this one with a New Zealand/Australian flavour, that has gradually expanded to include documentaries, films and series.
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