It’s hard to lose when you own the two best horses in the race, but that doesn’t mean that broadcast giant, Foxtel, and its streaming subsidiary, Presto, are putting in anything less than their best efforts in the competition to win viewers to their service.
Faced with the challenge of hooking new subscribers in a field which is rapidly becoming uncomfortably crowded, Foxtel and Presto have taken vastly different approaches to stay ahead in the entertainment arena and pricing structures to keep them ahead of rivals.
We’ve put the two providers head to head to see which one comes out on top.
Australian provider Foxtel is one of the original pioneers of pay TV, offering satellite, cable, and internet access to more than 90 channels of exclusive and distributed content, beamed directly into your home, and which are also available through catch-up TV.
In comparison, Presto is a new upstart. There are no live channels, no TV schedule, and the service can be accessed only via internet connected devices. What you get is around 3,000 movies and a host of TV episodes available whenever you want them.
Content and Pricing
There’s no getting around the fact that Foxtel and Presto are aimed at entirely different audiences, and what’s available to watch at any time reflects that. Even within each service, there are different packages available, and different prices to suit.
Looking at Presto first, you can see that there are three options. Picking either a movies or TV subscription will cost $9.99/month, but choosing to take both together will only set you back $14.99. This is especially awesome if you consider that when Presto launched, it was originally priced at an astonishing $24.99!
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So, what do you get for your money?
Well, there are around 3,000 movies, and today, we managed to work out that there are around 170 different TV shows separated into genres such as ‘kids’, ‘premium drama’, mini-series’ and the bizarre portmanteau, ‘dramedy,’ which induced seizures in our spellcheck when we wrote it out. Movies generally make their way onto Presto around seven months after they finish at the cinema, and particularly good picks from the TV package include ‘Boardwalk Empire’ – of which three seasons are available, and the oh – so classy ‘Upper middle Bogan’, which is one of only 19 shows available in the comedy genre. On the whole, we believe that Presto’s TV section is currently a little underwhelming and a little rushed, but the service has only been in operation for a short while and Presto has committed to adding new programming to their offering over time. As part of the $14.99 deal, it’s certainly worth having.
Foxtel is a premium service, and comes at a premium price, with a ‘basic’ entertainment package coming in at $25/month. For the price, you get 45 channels including Fox8, MTV, BBC UKTV and a whole lot more. Other packages can be added on, and include entertainment plus, movies, drama, and sport. To get everything will cost an epic $120/month.
Glancing through this week’s
Ease of use
To start the service and start watching straight away, Presto will be the winner for most people. All that is needed is to point your browser at the Presto website, sign up for an account and start watching. In comparison, the majority of new Foxtel viewers will need to sign up for a new account, wait for a satellite or cable engineer to install new hardware, and connect it up to the box, and only then can they start watching the entertainment packages they’ve paid for.
In the longer term, we suspect that most viewers will find Foxtel easier to use and master, if only because once the receiving equipment is set up, that’s it. Done, with no need to worry about bandwidth caps or who else is using the internet in your home.
Not only do Foxtel viewers have an intuitive remote control, which means that (provided it hasn’t been lost behind the couch), content can be accessed without ever leaving the comfort of the recliner, everything is made to be broadcast, and watched through the TV.
Presto compatibility is, unfortunately, limited to PCs, laptops, handheld devices and the Google Chromecast (which is new to the market, with people only just working out what it does). That’s right – no Smart TVs, and obviously, without a Chromecast, no way of actually seeing movies on a big screen at all.
Granted, you’re less likely to lose your tablet than your remote control, but does that really make up for having to squint to see the action, and, if you’re using a laptop, an uncomfortably warm crotch?
It’s tough to call which interface is better. Presto can be accessed either through its website or, if you’re watching on a handheld device, through an app. It’s easy to navigate, divides content into genres, and boasts an excellent search facility.
What you get with Foxtel is a classic EPG (electronic programme guide), showing what’s on TV now and what’s on for the next fortnight. It’s simple, classic, and easy to navigate. And since a 2014 move which would seem like witchcraft to our venerable ancestors, Foxtel subscribers have been able to press the left button on their remote controls to see what was on the day before. If it has aired within the last 26 hours, then using the magic of your internet connection, you can watch it again.
We’re going to say that Foxtel wins this one outright. Presto, as an internet based service, requires that you have an always-on, high speed data connection. Sure, this is 2015 and most people have one, but if you’re pushing it to the max and don’t have an appropriate broadband plan, then the costs can be astronomical.
On the other hand Foxtel’s standard service does not require an internet connection – provided you’re not planning to watch catch-up TV – but is not available in all areas. And this is where Foxtel can play its Ace card – Foxtel Now. Online streaming platform Foxtel Now is essentially the same service as Foxtel, but can be accessed through the internet, on a PC, or even on a smart TV, giving Foxtel exactly the same penetration as Presto, but with more options for viewing.
It’s pretty clear that Foxtel is the clear winner in most of the areas we’ve mentioned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right choice for you. It certainly makes finding something to watch on TV a less daunting task, and if you have a certain area of interest, such as sport, there’s always something going on which can pique your interest – especially with the catch-up service. The price can be a deal breaker for some, and Presto is obviously the victor in that area.
Presto, as an on-demand, all-you-can eat streaming service has carved itself a fairly solid niche despite its currently limited TV selection. It’s perfect for streaming back-to-back episodes of your favourite show all night long, or finding obscure movies to watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon, and the price is reasonable too. If Presto would invest in making a serious expansion to its library, it could be a serious contender.
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