A note: since this review was published, Quickflix has pretty much retired from the on-demand streaming game. After enduring the incoming competition from Netflix, Stan, and others — despite having been a pioneer in online streaming in Australia — they decided it was a lost cause and sold themselves to a US tech company which today operates the DVD-by-mail service for the old $20/month price, and offers some limited free and paid streaming content.
Presto, meanwhile, also struggled to make ground despite their access to the mighty HBO content library; ultimately they closed down, but only to make way for Foxtel Now, which has access to most of the same content, includes live pay TV as well as on-demand content, and costs less for specific content than Presto did.
We’ve left this review intact so you can see for yourself how they — all too briefly — were a player in a local industry that now has millions of customers.
With Netflix and Stan having made a big impact on our everyday entertainment lives, why would you want to consider a third streaming service? Well, the answer’s simple. As great as Stan and Netflix are, there are many TV shows and movies they simply do not have access to, and likely never will. That’s because of exclusive deals being done to keep certain shows and movies exclusive to the two “dark horse” streaming services — the relatively young and fresh-faced Presto, and the grizzled veteran of streaming in Australia, Quickflix.
Both services operate on a different formula to Netflix and Stan — while those two keep it simple with a monthly price for all-you-can-eat streaming, both Presto and Quickflix take very different approaches to how they divide up the spoils. So do either of them provide decent bang for your buck? Read on!
The Incumbent Veteran – Quickflix
Quickflix started out as a service that sent physical DVDs in the mail to customers. Netflix started out the same way in the US, in fact. Though Quickflix still offers its DVD-by-post service, we’re focussing on the streaming product here, so we’ll carry on in that respect. The monthly streaming plan has recently been upgraded to $9.99/month, giving you “unlimited subscription streaming” plus a bonus “Premium Pass”. This pass gives you access to one single streaming movie rental from the “Premium” collection per month, along with regularly changing member discounts on other premium content.
And you’d want discounts, too — because the vast majority of Quickflix’s library is flagged as “Premium”, meaning that it is not included in what you can watch for your 10 bucks a month. For example, you might be excited to find all five seasons of Game of Thrones in the TV Shows menu, or the latest season of the superb drama Halt and Catch Fire, but the only way you can watch them is by buying them outright – yes, buy them. To do so you’ll typically be paying anywhere from $20 to $40 for a season — prices that are pretty similar to other online stores such as iTunes. With movies, on the other hand, a rental option is available. Curiously, quite a large chunk of the Quickflix movie library is branded “premium” as well, including the fifteen-year-old Memento.
So basically, you’re going to find yourself burrowing through the library, dismissing anything with the yellow “Premium” banner on it, trying to find something to watch. Because Quickflix is, at its heart, an online movie and TV store, just like iTunes or Google Play. The all-you-can-eat streaming service seems to have been bolted on as a fledgling effort to emulate Netflix (and to be fair, they were the first company to do this in Australia) — but content to would make it worthwhile just isn’t there. The list is dominated by older BBC and ABC shows, with some vintage HBO (The Sopranos, Big Love, etc.) thrown in. Most of it is not available in HD, and the little that is looks decidedly sub-par by modern streaming HD standards.
The Feisty Upstart — Presto
Presto started out as a movies only streaming service backed by Foxtel’s movie channel — but in early 2015 they started to also stream TV, in an attempt to compete with Netflix. It’s the Foxtel backing that gives Presto the (perhaps unfair) advantage, as they can pick and choose from the cream of the movies (both recent and vintage) and also offer the TV shows that the others can’t — particularly HBO’s acclaimed catalogue. A wide range of the HBO catalogue is available, all of it in HD and all of it included in the monthly price, which at $14.99/month is more expensive than Quickflix and the other two competitors.
Just don’t expect to see Game of Thrones here, not yet anyway. For whatever reason, Presto’s held that one back from streaming, but there’s plenty of other HBO goodness to be had here, along with some very high-quality shows from other premium networks — Mr Robot, Aquarius, American Horror Story, Haven, The Affair, Homeland, Ray Donovan, and many more. It’s a library chock-full of stuff you simply cannot stream elsewhere, and it’s all included in the monthly price. No “premium” extras here.
The movies section is comprehensive too, featuring titles that are far fresher than most of what you’ll see on Netflix or Stan, as well as a huge library of older films of all kinds. It’s not all A-grade stuff, of course, but the good outweighs the bad — and there’s a nice selection of Australian films here too. Many of the movies — though not all — are available in HD.
Presto’s been a victim of its own sudden popularity recently, with their servers struggling under the load caused by thousands of Home and Away fans flocking to Presto for the exclusive episode they produced, but they’re upgrading capacity and slowly but surely ironing out the bugs (a particularly annoying one being the fact that your watchlist on the web site and on the iOS app are completely separate).
For $14.99/month it’s a seriously good value, even simply for the exclusive content that gives them a real point of difference. It’s an even better value for Virgin Mobile customers at the moment, too, with Virgin offering a bonus 2GB of mobile data simply for streaming Presto on your mobile phone. Check the offer page for details on that limited-time deal.
There really is no contest when it comes to the question of which service is a better value for subscription streaming — Presto wins by a mile, simply because of the depth of their catalogue, and the fact that your $14.99/month gets you access to all of it. Quickflix as a pure subscription streaming service simply can’t compete, and the olive branch of one free premium movie a month is a bit underwhelming, especially when so many of the movies appear to stay “premium” forever.
You can’t blame Quickflix for trying, though — they simply don’t have the kind of money to toss at content providers that Presto and its backers (Foxtel and the Seven Network) have. It’s still useful if you’re after movie rentals, but for monthly-fee streaming, the winner is clearly Presto.