Making a quiet entry into the Australian streaming market in early 2016, hayu was a very different beast to the all-conquering recent arrivals Netflix and Stan. While operating on the same “all you can eat” model as those services, hayu was created to fill a demand that wasn’t being well met by existing offerings. Hence, hayu boasts a content library made up of one genre only – reality TV.
Since launch, hayu’s proven there’s a real appetite in Australia for a reality streaming service. The platform continues to expand its library of shows and add apps for more and more devices. Plus, while other streaming services have raised their monthly prices in response to the GST, hayu still sticks to its bargain $5.99/month. That hasn’t changed since launch. It remains the cheapest hayu access in the world. In the UK, where the service is headquartered, your dose of reality binge watching would actually cost you more!
Boasting “over 4000 episodes”, hayu draws from the extensive library of its parent company, NBC Universal. That’s both a good thing and a possible disappointment for some. On the plus side, you get access to pretty much every reality series the network has produced. That includes hugely popular big-name shows like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and almost the entire collection of Real Housewives shows. The Melbourne and Sydney instalments, however, were produced by Foxtel and as a result can’t be found here.
Aside from those big drawcard shows, there’s a hefty collection of reality series covering a huge range of subjects. There’s “sexy restaurant” show (!) Vanderpump Rules, for example, or a show featuring Rob Kardashian, Rob & Chyna. Fans of jumping into shows because of their intriguing titles will probably take a peek at Battle of the Ex-Besties, The Prancing Elites Project (“on a mission to put the bam into Alabama”) or even Untying the Knot – a show featuring a “divorce diva”! And the icing on the cake has to be Hollywood Medium, a show about teenager Tyler Henry, “teen medium to the stars”. With dozens upon dozens of shows with tantalising titles, and with new episodes and shows added at the same time they air in the US, hayu is a reality TV lover’s dream come true.
Alongside the shows there’s a social aspect to hayu as well, with special show clips supplied for users to share on social media. You also get plenty of juicy reading about all your favourite reality stars and what they’re up to. The clips can be sorted according to mood, too. So if you’re feeling angry and want to share a clip to represent your grumpiness, hayu’s got you covered!
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hayu’s apps and pricing
Launching with iOS and Android apps that we took at look at last year, hayu’s been busily expanding its reach to make it easier to watch its shows on the big screen. They now have apps for Apple TV (4th generation and newer) as well as Fetch TV, and just recently launched an app for Telstra TV boxes.
The pricing’s simple – one tier, no catches, $6.99 per month with no contract. For those unsure if hayu’s right for them, there’s a free 30-day trial of the full service available on sign-up. Binge all you like, and if you cancel before the 30 days is up you won’t pay a cent. It’s worth noting, by the way, that hayu lets you check out its full catalogue of shows before you create an account. Something other streaming services deliberately don’t allow.
Alternatives to hayu in Australia
For fans of reality TV, there’s another very tasty option for streaming the shows you love. We’re talking about Foxtel Now, the revamped and expanded live and on-demand service from Foxtel, a company that’s been supporting reality TV for years now.
Foxtel Now is kind of two products in one – a live-streaming service that gives you access to Foxtel’s broadcast TV channels as they happen, and an on-demand library for those who like to binge-watch when the mood takes them. And the good news is that it’s incredibly cheap. You just need to pick one entry-level channel packto get started. If it’s reality shows you want, the Pop and Lifestyle entry pack is all you’ll need. It costs a mere $29 per month with no contract, and gives you access to six channels – Lifestyle, E!, Lifestyle Food, Lifestyle Home, Arena and TLC.
Shows found both live and on demand include Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the two Real Housewivesshows made in Sydney and Melbourne, Top Chef, the immensely popular Gogglebox, Total Divas and more. Alongside those you’ll find a lot of other attractive content – Selling Houses Australia, Grand Designs Australia, Love It or List It, The Great Australian Bake-off, to only name a few.
For 29 bucks a month, it’s fantastic value, and gives you the unique option of just channel-surfing to see what’s on, or picking directly what you want, when you want it. Extra packs can be added, too, for access to everything from first-run drama from HBO and others, live sports, premiere movies and more. A 10-day trial is available that lets you sample everything at no charge.
Foxtel Now works on iOS and Android devices (with Chromecast support) as well as Telstra TV, Playstation 4 and the just-released Foxtel Now box.
The granddaddy and global behemoth of on-demand streaming already has over 7 million Australian customers, so chances are you’ve got access to Netflix already. But does it have anything to offer to reality TV fans?
You might be surprised to learn that indeed it does! To have a browse for yourself, you can use the hidden Netflix link for all their reality TV shows (browse/genre/9833) and browse away. Now, you’re not going to find the Kardashians here (we all need a break from them occasionally, after all!). But there’s a pretty diverse collection of reality shows ranging from Beverly Hills Pawn and Skin Wars to Restoration Australia and What’s For Sale. Quirky Japanese reality show Terrace House has won itself a lot of fans, while Ultimate Beastmasteris for those looking for a bit of game show with their reality. And more familiar TV staples are here too, from Top Gear to Zumbo’s Just Desserts.
Netflix costs $13.99/month for the HD plan. If you don’t need HD you can take that price down to $9.99. As for devices, Netflix is on just about everything – if it’s a device that does streaming, it does Netflix. The only major exception to that right now is the Foxtel Now box, which does not yet have a Netflix app. New customers get the first month free, plenty of time to check out what’s on offer and decide whether you need to keep it in your life.
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Far more focussed on movies and TV drama and comedy rather than reality shows, Stan nevertheless does have a reality category with a handful of shows in it. Front and centre in this little collection are two instalments of the much-loved RuPaul’s Drag Race along with matching behind-the-scenes series for extra cattiness. RuPaul also pops up in Gay for Play Game Show, while outside of the RuPaul festival there’s Showtime’s controversial Gigolos, The Hills, Catfish, Geordie Shore, >16 and Pregnant and Bollywood Star.
If you expand your browsing to Stan’s wider “Real Life” category, you’ll find a wealth of stuff to keep you entertained. Just about every doco the wonderful Louis Theroux has ever made, documentaries galore including David Attenborough nature series alongside political reality in The Circus, and plenty more.
The general theme here seems to be more on the informative side. If it’s pure reality you’re after, you may be disappointed. But with Stan’s vast library of excellent content (including exclusive access to Showtime’s latest shows), you’re going to find plenty to keep you entertained outside of the reality world.
Stan costs $12 per month for HD ($10 for SD) and has apps for just about everything. If Netflix is on it, Stan probably has an app for it as well. They’ve even got an app for the Foxtel Now box while Netflix doesn’t! The first 30 days is free, so you can try it out first-hand and cancel if it’s not a match for your taste in TV.
When it comes to reality TV, you can’t really go past a streaming service that is 100% dedicated only to this genre. With thousands upon thousands of hours of stuff to watch, new shows constantly added and more Kardashians than you even knew existed, hayu comes out on top. It’s an absolute bargain at $6.99 a month. And now that they’re got apps onto all the major streaming devices, you can watch on your TV with ease. It’s highly recommended for any fan of reality shows. And remember, you get the first 30 days free so you can road-test the entire library.
Up against such dedicated competition, other streaming services are never going to come close to hayu’s immense chunk of reality content. But thanks to their own dedicated channels for reality and lifestyle shows, Foxtel Now and its affordable Lifestyle pack come close. Not to mention that it adds the option of live TV for the very reasonable price of $29 a month, with a free 10-day trial.
Netflix has more reality content than you’d think – though you won’t have heard of much of it. But it’s all included as part of a library that includes some of the most binge-worthy non-reality stuff around (seriously, try to stop watching Stranger Things after only one episode!). Stan, meanwhile, is the home of RuPaul and a small selection of other reality shows. The platform’s main forte is more in the documentaries area – not a bad thing by any means, and overall it’s still arguably the best-value streaming service out there in terms of depth and quality of content.
For sheer reality TV nirvana, though, the winner is clearly hayu.