With the launch of its new streaming service, Foxtel hopes to appeal to Australian consumers who embraced binge-watching, but miss live TV. Foxtel Now offers HD quality, a generous on demand library, and Chromecast support to easily stream shows and movies on the big screen. But how does it stack up when compared to streaming giant Netflix? We’re here to find out.
The launch of Foxtel Now was eagerly anticipated by those who love Foxtel content. With HD streaming and Chromecast support, the service is quickly positioning itself as a worthy competition for Netflix, with one important addition: live TV. That means you can watch your favourite channels live, but also access Foxtel Now’s on demand library, which offers a great selection of TV shows and movies.
However, Netflix is still in the lead when it comes to winning over new users. Research conducted by Roy Morgan shows that over 1 in 3 Australians now have Netflix, as subscriptions jumped 20 percent in first quarter of 2017. This only proves that SVOD services show no sign of slowing down; and Foxtel Now is more than a welcome addition to the mix.
But when faced with picking between Netflix and Foxtel Now, which one should you go for? Let’s see how the two services compare.
When picking a streaming service, there’s one main factor to consider: content. The money you pay each month should guarantee you’ll be able to watch your favourite shows and movies whenever you feel like it. That’s why it’s important to figure out if they will be available on either Netflix or Foxtel Now before making a decision.
Netflix arguably has the largest library of content in the world. The only problem? Due to licensing deals, not all titles are available in Australia. This is one of the major complaints Aussie users have concerning the streaming giant. So, while Netflix subscribers in other countries can watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad, for instance, you can’t stream the show on Netflix Australia. Not yet, anyway. Netflix is making strides to make all its content available globally, but that’s most likely going to take a while.
In the meantime, though, you can enjoy all Netflix original content and then some, which stacks up to hundreds of hours of TV and movies. Original TV series include popular titles like Orange Is the New Black, House of Cards, Jessica Jones, Stranger Things, and so on. Plus, Netflix also produces original movies, like the recently-released War Machine, starring Brad Pitt. Add documentaries and kids shows into the mix and you’ve got plenty of content to choose from when planning your next binge. Veteran shows like Gossip Girl, American Horror Story, and How I Met Your Mother are also on Netflix. Even more exciting, the streaming service announced its first original Australian series, Tidelands. You can browse the entire Netflix library for a better idea of what’s on.
Meanwhile, Foxtel Now opens users up to an entire world of Foxtel content, and you can tailor what you pay for based on your interests. While Netflix grants you access to its entire library for a monthly fee, Foxtel Now allows you to build your own subscription to best match your taste in entertainment. The service offers five basic channel packs to choose from – Lifestyle, Kids, Docos, Drama, and Pop. On top of that, you can also add premium channel packs in the mix – Movies and Sports.
That means the content available will vary based on the channel packs you subscribe to. If you’re TV show enthusiast, Drama and Pop are your best picks. If you’re a movie buff, adding the premium Movies pack is a no-brainer. And if love sports, then the Sport combo should definitely be on your to-buy list.
Subscribing to a channel pack grants you access to all the channels in said pack. You can either watch them live, or access the Foxtel Now on demand library to see what’s available. So besides being able to watch Foxtel original content, you also have binge hundreds of hours of programming anytime.
It’s important to note that both the Drama and Pop packs include the Showcase channel, which is the home of HBO. So if you’re looking to watch Game of Thrones, Foxtel Now is your most accessible and affordable choice. There are also tons of other shows available, including Wentworth, A Place to Call Home, The Americans, Westworld, Big Little Lies, and so on. As for movies, Foxtel has over 1,000 titles available on demand, so you’ll never be out of inspiration when planning a marathon.
Moreover, Foxtel Now is a great addition to any sports enthusiast out there who’s not keen on getting a traditional Foxtel subscription. The Sports pack offers coverage of AFL, NRL, NBA, NFL, Super Rugby, Australian & European football, Supercars, Formula 1, international cricket and more. You can watch your favourite teams and sports live anytime, on a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets. In other words, you won’t have to miss another game ever again.
As of October 2018, Netflix continues to invest massive amounts of money into original content, and is adding new original shows and movies every couple of weeks – most of them extremely high quality. Foxtel Now, meanwhile, is expanding its app platforms. Foxtel has also launched the Foxtel Now box, a stand-alone Foxtel Now device that’ll give subscribers the full HD Foxtel experience just by plugging a tiny box into the TV. You can get it from Foxtel for $99.
Netflix is available on a huge range of devices, which means there are multiple ways to watch. You can stream on PCs/Macs, mobile devices, gaming consoles, a huge variety of streaming devices – name your gadget and Netflix likely has an app for it that ensures a smooth experience. However, the number of the devices you can watch on simultaneously varies depending on your chosen plan. So if you have a basic subscription, you can only watch on one device at a time. A standard subscription allows you to stream on two devices at the same time, and the premium option bumps that number to four.
The quality of the stream will depend on your internet connection. The basic plan offers SD quality, the standard plan HD quality, and the premium plan grants you access to 4K UHD content. However, you need a speedy internet to be able to watch on the big screen. While the suggested minimum recommended broadband speed is 1.5MB/s, you need a minimum of 25MB/s to stream in 4K.
Since its launch, Foxtel Now is available on PCs/Macs, mobile devices, Telstra TV, and Chromecast. You can still use the former Foxtel Play app to stream on game consoles and selected smart TVs, but Foxtel promises to add the Foxtel Now app to those devices as well ASAP. HD streaming is now available, which is huge, since users used to complain about Foxtel Play’s SD limitations in the past. You need a minimum speed of 3Mbps to enjoy standard definition streams and a minimum speed of 7Mbps for HD content.
You can register up to five devices and watch content on any two at the same time. However, some channels can have device restrictions, so keep that in mind when signing up.
For more details on recommended broadband speeds, check out this article on SVoD data usage.
Both Netflix and Foxtel Now boast user-friendly interfaces which are extremely easy to navigate. With Netflix, you get a customised interface with titles recommended to you based on your previous ratings. You can add titles to your watch list. Closed captions and subtitles are available on selected titles, as well as audio descriptions. Netflix video previews are a more recent addition.
As for Foxtel Now, it hit the market with a new interface and improved search function. You have a Homepage, as well as pages for Live TV, On Demand, and Kids. The Live TV page shows channels available in your packs, while the On Demand section offers titles available to watch instantly. These titles will also depend on the channel packs you subscribe to.
Netflix offers three subscription plans. The Basic Plan costs $9.99 and allows you to stream on one device at a time in SD. The Standard Plan costs $13.99/month. For that, you get HD streaming on two devices simultaneously. The Premium Plan, at $17.99/month, comes with 4K streaming on four devices. For this price you get access to the entire Netflix Australia library.
Foxtel Now, on the other hand, offers three basic plans for $10/month – Lifestyle, Kids, and Docos. The Drama and Pop packs are $15/month each or $25/month both. As for premium options, the Movies pack is $20/month, while the Sports pack is $29/month. You need to already be subscribed to one of the basic packs to add the premium ones to your cart. That means that to access the Sports packs, for instance, you’ll pay at least $39/month (basic $10/month pack + premium Sports pack). Getting all the packs can put a dent in your budget, since they come at $104/month.
Check out how these streaming providers compare with one another on the table below:
How to choose between Netflix and Foxtel Now
SVOD is a growing market, so you can expect for these two services to grow significantly in the near future, with bigger libraries and improved technical specs. For now, choosing between the two depends strictly on what you want to watch and how you plan to access that content.
Netflix wins when it comes to accessibility, since it’s basically available on any device imaginable. Its list of original content is also growing with every month. Foxtel Now, meanwhile, has the edge when it comes to live TV. It basically offers the best of both worlds, thanks to its expanding on demand library.
So why not try them both? Netflix offers a free one month trial, while you can watch Foxtel Now free for two weeks. Give them a go to get a better feel for what’s on and make a more informed decision in the long run.