Yes, Australia loves its reality TV – which is no doubt why Hayu, a streaming service run by NBC Universal that streams only
reality TV, chose this country as one of only three around the world it’s set up operations in.
Hayu’s immediate appeal is its low price. At $5.99 per month, it’s half the price of Netflix or Stan and yet comes jam-packed with thousands of episodes of reality TV, with new episodes often added right after they air in the US.
But fans of the genre don’t just have Hayu as an option. There’s also Foxtel’s revamped and re-priced Foxtel Now streaming service, which mixes live streaming channels with an on-demand library for a price way below that of getting a full Foxtel installation. And while the two services have some shows in common, Foxtel has its own exclusives as well as its own in-house productions.
The appetite for all things reality in the US has seen and explosion of shows there over the past decade or more. Everyone wants to see the latest episodes as soon as possible so they can keep in touch with all the stuff that’s happening, and Hayu knows that these shows make perfect binge-watching material. This is precisely why you’ll find not only the very latest episodes of dozens upon dozens of shows, but also multiple entire seasons of them – in many cases, the entire back catalogue. For example, fans of Keeping Up with the Kardashians can find an epic 14 seasons of the show on Hayu in their entirety. So if you want to, you can take a trip back in time and watch the whole saga play out from the very beginning. It’s similar with the Real Housewives brand, where there’s sixteen different full Real Housewives flavours available each of them in their entirety – including the original Real Housewives of Orange County, now clocking up its 12th season.
Aside from the mega-brands, there’s also a wealth of other shows available in Hayu’s extensive library. There’s the pro-cooking content show Top Chef to the controversy-filled Mysteries and Scandals to… well, all the other shows featuring the extended Kardashian family!
Hayu’s also made itself nice and accessible with apps for the Telstra TV boxes, as well as the Apple TV and most recently, a native app on the popular Fetch TV platform. High definition is streamed when possible (not all the older episodes are in HD, of course) at no extra charge. Mobile devices are covered with an excellent app for iOS and Android that makes it easy to browse the library and can also stream to Chromecast.
While not a dedicated reality-show service like Hayu, Foxtel’s keenly-priced streaming service, Foxtel Now, has plenty of reality TV to offer – thanks in no small part to the dedicated channels they have for the genre and associated shows.
Reality fans will want to head straight for the Foxtel Now Lifestyle Pack, which for $10 per month (yep, just ten bucks!) bundles six channels – Lifestyle and Lifestyle Home, Arena, TLC, Lifestyle Food and E. Between them, there’s plenty to watch. Arena bundles reality shows, new and old, including the locally-produced Real Housewives shows (Melbourne and Sydney), which is exclusive to Foxtel. Episodes of Top Chef appear here before heading to Hayu. For those in search of something different, there’s Embarrassing Bodies, Project Runway and Million Dollar Listing. Lifestyle focuses more on more grounded stuff including The Great Australian Bake-off¸ Selling Houses Australia and the mini-phenomenon Googlebox (both Australia and UK editions).
There’s tons more to keep you properly distracted. The big difference with Hayu is that while Foxtel Now gives you on-demand access to the shows, you also get live streaming of the actual channels in your pack – so you can literally “tune in” via the Foxtel Now app and see what’s on.
Foxtel Now has apps for its own dedicated $99 Foxtel Now box, the Telstra TV and Playstation 4, and the excellent companion app for iOS and Android can stream to your Chromecast or Apple TV as well. Live channels and on-demand shows stream in HD on the Foxtel Now box, Telstra TV and Playstation 4, too.
Netflix and Stan
Reality offerings are a little thinner on dominant platforms Netflix and Stan, with Netflix offering only a few to fit the genre – Grand Designs, Project Runway, Skin Wars and a few others including Japanese reality show Terrace House.
Stan has a “Real Life” section that heavily features reality megastar RuPaul, including first-run episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race along with The Hills, Barely Famous and the explicit and controversial Showtime series Gigolos.
Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video, doesn’t seem interested in the reality genre much at all. The closest they come includes only a handful of documentaries and of course, The Grand Tour (though it could be argued there’s precious little reality in that show!).
There’s no doubt about it – if reality TV is your thing, then Hayu is something you need in your life, especially at the bargain-basement monthly price. With a huge library, excellent apps and a bright, breezy look and feel, it’s a great destination whether you’re bingeing or just browsing for something to watch. But Foxtel Now’s Lifestyle pack certainly provides stiff competition with a wide variety of shows, exclusive content, live-channel streaming and an equally bargain-heavy price.
At $5.99 and $10 per month respectively, you could easily add both to your collection of streaming services without breaking the bank – and if you’re unsure, Hayu will let you try their service free for 30 days, while Foxtel Now will give you full access for two weeks at no charge!