The free streaming services helping Aussies ditch Netflix
Now, more than any other time in Australian television history, viewers are spoiled for choice.
From the original five free-to-air (FTA) channels, we've now expanded to dozens of local and international broadcast, cable, satellite or streamed offerings bringing thousands of viewing options to our screens 24/7.
But for most of us, more choice means more cost, with subscriptions to the popular services costing anywhere from $14 to $150 a month depending on what you're after.
Sign up for even the most basic packages from Netflix, Stan, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video and you're looking at just under $40 a month.
Make it the premium offerings, add in a couple of first-run movies per month (up to $30 each on some platforms) and Foxtel's Platinum package and the total can easily top $200 a month.
Sure, less ethical consumers have figured out how to split the services, buying one account and sharing the password to family or friends, or signing up for a free trial to binge a water-cooler series then cancelling before the payment is due, but most streamers are pretty good at monitoring who's watching and shutting down anyone who crosses their lines.
But thankfully there are alternatives.
Ad-supported streamers, second-tier FTA channels and free services are available with hundreds of thousands of television series, movies, documentaries and more if you know where to look.
And with a smart TV to run the various apps or access the internet, they can be simple to view.
Here's five alternatives to open your viewing world for free.
The second tier channels
ABC's iView, SBS On Demand, 10Play, 7Plus and 9Now are all free additions to the existing FTA networks offering that are absolutely filled with alternative viewing.
The commercial networks versions are (predictably) supported by commercials which means you'll have to sit through ads - sometimes literally the same ad over and over - but it's still a good way of catching series that weren't mainstream enough for prime time. And sometimes those shows are gems.
The ABC and SBS apps in particular are loaded with quality drama past and present with the (usually) minor inconvenience of ads at the start and end. Well worth a look.
Also ad-supported, but in a much lighter way than some of the second-tier channels, is Tubi, which has pulled together a library that is, to put it mildly, eclectic.
There are a lot of classic movies, much-loved series, and worthy documentaries, but the true joy is in the collection of programming you would never have heard of.
Alongside repeats of Water Rats and Mr Bean are gems like Megashark V Crocasaurus.
And reality dating show fans will definitely not want to miss Flavor of Love where rapper Flavor Flav tries to choose between women he so clearly doesn't care about he can never remember their names.
Got a library or university student card? Then you've got access to Kanopy, the free movie and documentary streaming service offering multiple loans per month.
Originally set up in the USA, Kanopy is now a worldwide service boasting "quality thoughtful entertainment" and the range is broad.
Everything from the surreal science fiction flick Donnie Darko to the musical comedy Bran Nu Dae, a documentary on the impact of sugar on the world's diet and thousands in between.
The foreign language section is massive, the library is added to weekly and regular newsletters update members on what's arrived. And if you don't have a library card? Apply for one, they're free!
Another library-affiliated (and free to library cardholders) streaming service, Beamafilm is skewed toward independent film and television offerings, showcasing the best of indie Australasian entertainment.
That doesn't mean the rest of the planet is ignored, however, with a huge library of world and foreign-language movies and TV, plus kids viewing, some sports and more.
There's a bit of overlap with Kanopy and as you'd expect, the arts are covered here more than you're likely to find almost anywhere else, but the sheer amount of programming you're never going to find anywhere else makes it well worth the time to join.
Pro tip: The "Hidden gems" section is just that.
Yes, seriously, YouTube. It might be best known as the endless rabbit hole of DIY hacks and popstar wannabes, but it's also a huge library of film and television that have passed into the public domain, which means opportunities galore.
Search "free movies" and thousands of westerns, actions films, romantic comedies, musicals and more appear, uploaded by fans or rights-holders who want to share what they love.
Then there's the production companies who just want to showcase material that either never made it to air or did, but has since disappeared. Search "Twisted Lunchbox" for example and you get pretty much the entire Australian Children's Television Foundation back-catalogue for free.
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