Is it possible to choose between Netflix, Stan and Foxtel Now? How do their libraries stack up? How’s the service quality? What about their rates? How easy are they to use? Are there any features that put one ahead of the other? Read on to find out how these three services compare!
Stan is one of the latest streaming video on demand (SVoD) services. Launched in Australia back in January 2015, Stan offers unlimited viewing from a big library. How big? At last count, Stan has 342 TV shows and counting, and 1,013 blockbuster movies ready to show on demand.
Stan is co-owned by Nine Entertainment Co. and Fairfax Media – meaning it has access to some well-known titles. These include exclusive offerings like Twin Peaks, Roadies, Billions, Better Call Saul, Preacher, The White Princess, Power, Younger and I’m Dying Up Here, with exclusive access to US cable giant Showtime’s catalogue.Australian content includes shows such as the complete series of Frontline, The Hollowmen, Rake, Black Comedy, Underbelly, We Can Be Heroes, and Summer Heights High. And Stan has begun producing its own content, too. These include the comedy series No Activity and the horror-drama series Wolf Creek, as well as fresh new comedy-drama The Other Guy. On the cinematic front, Stan delivers modern titles like Sully, Sing Street, Zero Dark Thirty and Room; as well as older favourites like Fargo, Major League, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Fellow SVoD contender Netflix boasts an impressive 709 TV shows and 2,467 movies for your on-demand viewing pleasure. More than double what Stan has available. But what do you expect from an SVoD service that’s been around as long as Netflix? Netflix also produces its own award-winning titles. These include popular titles House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, as well as the much-lauded Marvel universe series Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Luke Cage. For those after a darker story, Ozark has also begun streaming.
Australian produced content available on Netflix includes Offspring, Anzac Girls and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.Another homegrown content provider, Foxtel Now is a service which gives you access to Foxtel channel packages without a dedicated cable. That’s right, everything is streamed live online, straight to the device of your choice. Viewers get to choose from five Genre packages – Drama, Pop, Docos, Lifestyle, and Kids. Or mix and match, month-to-month. Viewers can also pick one or both of the Premium Picks – Movies and Sports. For those after premium football matches, there are three new English Premier League channels available. Moreover, after Foxtel Play rebranded as Foxtel Now, it now offers HD streaming, a new interface, and Chromecast support.
Looking at the libraries, it’s clear that Stan offers viewers more Australian content. But it’s sports that sets Foxtel Now apart from Stan and Netflix. Foxtel Now offers access to Fox Sports, ESPN, beIN, and other channels. At a quick count, this means you get NRL, tennis, PGA golf, NFL, NBA, Rugby Sevens, A League, cricket surfing, V8 Supercars, and F1 Grand Prix.
However, company content libraries are not static offerings. Companies buy, swap and extend broadcasting rights to certain programs and movies. In that light, the perceived value of any SVoD service becomes quite subjective. Libraries change – and so does what the viewers enjoy.
New shows coming to Stan, Netflix and Foxtel Now this Summer
Starting November 2018, all three streaming services will be updating their libraries with fresh titles that will keep subscribers glued to the screen. Outlander finally makes it long awaited return with its fourth season on Foxtel on November 5. Meanwhile, the rather controversial Netflix original show, House of Cards, will also come back for its sixth and final season on November 2 with Robin Wright at the helm and sans its former male lead, actor Kevin Spacey. As for Stan, Benicio Del Toro stars in a new series Escape at Dannemora, which will premiere on November 19.
It’s clear that Stan offers viewers more content, as Australia users of Netflix can’t access around 7/8 of the titles available to US customers. Photo: Supplied
Stan operates on both iOS and Android tablets and smartphones. It’s also available on laptops with modern browsers. Apple Airplay and Google’s Chromecast are also compatible with Stan. Moreover, Stan is also available on select Smart TVs, current gaming consoles, Apple TV, Fetch TV, Telstra TV and Android TV.
Netflix subscribers can watch content on almost any device. It is available on most modern smartphones and tablets. Same with modern browsers, gaming consoles, and Smart TVs. It’s clear that Netflix has had years of development to refine their streaming technologies.
Foxtel Now brings Foxtel to locations with no Foxtel cable or satellite access. There’s no waiting around for an install. Just sign up and start watching with a compatible device. Foxtel Now works on Mac, PC, Telstra TV, PS4 and Chromecast. Other devices, including PlayStation 3, Xbox One and select Smart TVs are able to stream Foxtel content live in SD via the Foxtel Now app. Mobile viewers can access their content via the Foxtel Now app, using iPhones, iPods touch, iPads, and a large range Samsung Android phones and tablets.
It’s pretty much a draw. Netflix edges ahead because of its accessibility across most devices (including older Smart TVs) while Stan’s simplicity appeals to those who don’t want to worry about different pricing levels. And Foxtel’s availability is a big step forward for a service that was cable-dependant.
The sign-up processes for all three services are very simple and take about one minute. Both Stan and Netflix offer a 30-day trial experience from the day of sign-up. One difference is that Netflix gives you the opportunity to pay with PayPal. It also offers to remind you when your trial expires. Foxtel Now offers a free two-week trial.
Stan needs at least a 1.5Mb/s connection for low-quality streaming. For buffer-free viewing, they recommend a 3.5Mb/s connection for standard definition. At 1080p, subscribers need a minimum broadband connection of 6.5Mb/s for buffer-free HD display. For 4K viewing, the recommended speed is 15Mbps.
Netflix avoids buffering by adjusting streaming quality based on the connection available. The resolution also depends on the subscription package – more on that below. The minimum recommended broadband speed is 1.5Mb/s for standard definition. This moves up to 25Mb/s for subscribers making use of 4K streaming. This definitely puts Super HD out of reach for many mobile devices. But how many smartphones have a 4K screen?
Foxtel Now needs a steady 3Mb/s to operate effectively in SD, with 10Mb/s connections allowing HD quality.
Stan’s flat rate of $10/month allows you to watch in SD. This price gives you access to the entire library. No chopping or choosing between packages or definitions. Just sign up and start watching. New subscribers also get a 30-day free trial. For $12/month, you get HD streaming on three screens at the same time. To access shows and movies in 4K Ultra HD, you’ll need to get the Premium Plan, for $15/month. If you go for this one, you will be able to watch on four screens simultaneously. Currently, no Australian ISPs offers unmetered access to Stan’s content.
Netflix offers three tiers of subscriptions. The Basic pack brings the full catalogue to a single screen for $9.99/month. The Standard pack is $13.99/month and enables streaming to two screens simultaneously. And the Premium pack brings streaming to up to four screens for $17.99/month. Again, no lock-in contracts and new users can check out Netflix for free for 30 days. Yet Netflix limits HD viewing for Standard subscribers, and Super HD (4K) for Premium.
Foxtel Now lets you pick-and-mix your viewing options month-to-month. The standard service offering starts at $10/month. You get a choice of one base Genre Package (Drama, Pop, Docos, Lifestyle and Kids). You can then add on extra genre packages for between $10-15/month each. Foxtel Now also offers two Premium Picks – Movies for $20/month or Sports for $29/month. Subscribers can choose to add on three new English Premier League channels available for $5/month each (or just 1c/month each with the Sports package). Or, if you’re feeling grandiose, you can hold off making a decision and go all in with a free trial.
All in all, these TV streaming offers are pretty appealing. Still looking for more options? Make sure to check out the table below!
Stan offers an extensive and growing help service. The Stan Help Service is streamlined and easy to navigate. Every article offers links to helpful resources. Subscribers can submit written help requests and even files directly through the help interface. And support through Facebook is lightning-fast. As usual, lost passwords are easily recovered using an automated email system.
The Netflix Help Centre offers subscribers quick links to frequently asked questions. These are alongside with a searchable library of helpful answers. Users can chat with an online representative, after about a one-minute wait. Customers can also call Netflix directly, with a one-minute wait time in most cases. Lost passwords are easily resolved, with subscribers getting email support in seconds.
Foxtel Now, formerly known as Foxtel Now, makes use of its established help desk service. A streamlined FAQ and easy to navigate support page aims to tackle most issues. Viewers can also access the Foxtel Community page for quick fixes direct from fellow users. Or they can hop on Twitter for fast, personalised responses directly from Foxtel staff.
Stan makes it easy to find shows and movies across a range of genres and it lets subscribers list content for later viewing. The interface also delivers brief descriptions, classifications and viewing times. Additionally, Stan offers suggestions based on what peers have viewed. This works well when combined with the “my list” feature. Maybe you start watching one movie and Stan suggests something similar. Instead of writing it down, you just click a button and Stan remembers the title for later. Stan allows you to stream up to three screens simultaneously and does not cap the devices used.
Netflix features a personalised online interface that offers viewing options based on subscriber feedback. Users can rate what they watch, and get recommendations based on their feedback. Subscribers can also list programs and movies for later viewing. Netflix lets you watch from up to four screens simultaneously, and does not cap the devices used.
Foxtel Now used a familiar interface, letting users pick between channels easily. Foxtel Now hit the market with an improved interface, making for a seamless navigation process. The Home screen displays two main panels. The Live TV panel shows all the channels available on Now, with channels that aren’t included in your subscription greyed out. The Catch-Up screen displays featured content, with filter options that make it easy to find something to watch. Having selected a channel, you have to wait a few seconds for the stream to buffer. The video is not as high quality as you might get through a dedicated cable, but HD performance is available across a range of devices. Foxtel Now caps subscription on two devices per account, and the app can be used on three devices. So that’s five screens available from one account – but they have to be registered.
Choosing Between Stan, Netflix, and Foxtel Now
All three offerings give you compelling reasons to sign up. The content they provide is excellent and the availability is improving all the time.
Stan delivers a massive content library. Many well-known titles are exclusive to Stan, making this a valuable selling point. The interface is slick and easy to use, and the combination of search and save-for-later features is quite valuable.
Netflix offers a similarly cheap entry point for an SVoD service. And it comes with a huge-and-still-growing library. The service also keeps track of what you’re watching. So if you’re interrupted, you can find where you left off without fuss. Netflix also offers suggestions based on your viewing habits and peers’ rating.
Foxtel Now’s live-streaming feature can be either a pro or a con. If you like not having to think about what to watch, then Foxtel Now works wonders. But the big differentiator is the Sports Package add-on. Neither Stan nor Netflix provide access to live sport. But Foxtel is known for it’s exclusive access to a wide range of live broadcasts. These include Aussie favourites like AFL, NRL, Super Rugby, Supercars and F1®. European football fans can enjoy live streams of UEFA Champions League, Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga matches. While US sports fans gain access to both the NBA and NFL. Not to mention international rugby, cricket and tennis – all live. And Foxtel Now makes it accessible like never before. No cables. No satellite dish. No install. Just sign up and stream! Moreover, the service also offers hundreds of titles available on demand.
Best of all, EVERYONE can grab the Foxtel Now free trial whether you’re a new user or existing Foxtel Now subscriber!
In terms of content libraries, Netflix comes out ahead of Stan. Its library features a good range of content, including well-known in-house exclusive productions. However, Stan has the buying power to obtain licenses for a lot of foreign-produced content, as well as exclusive productions meant for Australian audiences.
Throw in the measures on price and technical slickness and Netflix has the lead. The buffer-less viewing makes watching movies and series a breeze, while the low $9.99 entry point is appealing to everyone’s wallet. Unless, of course, sport matters in your viewing? In which case, Foxtel Now is the obvious answer. The only caveat being Foxtel Now’s higher price point of $39/month (that’s $10/month for basic access and $29/month for the Sports package).
Still unsure? It’s easy to try them out without paying a cent! Stan and Netflix both offer 30-day Free Trials. And Foxtel Now offers a Two-Week Free Trial. They all charge by the month and subscribers are not bound to contracts. So you can switch back and forth between these services on a monthly basis. You know, if you want to. Simple!