Updated October 2017 with additional information.

Presto – The Short-lived Australian Answer to Netflix

Back in 2014, the Netflix phenomenon had yet to arrive in Australia. However, it was well-known that hundreds of thousands of Australians were using the American version of the streaming service. And, at the same time, discovering the convenience of on-demand movies and TV shows for a flat monthly price. Foxtel noticed this too. In response, they set up a streaming service of their own in early 2014. Named Presto, it originally only offered movie streaming. It also came with a fairly hefty price – nearly $20 per month.

Then, with Netflix set to arrive on our shores and local start-up Stan racing to beat them to launch, Foxtel had an idea. They made a partnership with the Seven Network to turn Presto into a Netflix-like streaming service that offered both movies and TV shows on demand. They launched the revamped Presto in January 2015. Just a couple of weeks before the arrival of Stan and well ahead the local launch of Netflix.

It was a rocky start. The $14.99/month price point was still sitting higher than their rivals’. Plus, the service offered no high definition streaming at all (that arrived later in the year). But Presto had some key advantages. The service unlocked exclusive access to shows from the acclaimed HBO network, as well as some specially-made content from Seven like Home and Away specials.

And yet, customers didn’t quite rush through the doors. With only around 130,000 subscribers by late 2016, Seven sold its share of Presto back to Foxtel. Then Foxtel announced that the service would shut down permanently on January 31st 2017.

Foxtel Now – The Highly Improved Foxtel Streaming Service

After the announcement, Foxtel decided to play to its strengths. They secured new streaming deals for some of their key shows (including an expanded HBO deal) and had already figured out how competitive the on-demand streaming market can be. The telco built a new-generation streaming service that would offer, besides on-demand content, live premium TV – and live sports! Something on demand services simply can’t do.

Foxtel’s existing streaming service, Foxtel Play, was given a complete overhaul. Subscribers got a new app with a much-improved user interface, high definition streaming, new pricing and a new name – Foxtel Now. Previous Presto subscribers that still had active accounts were invited to join the revitalised platform. Today, and the service continues to expand and improve as it makes its way into hundreds of thousands of homes.

Foxtel Now divides Foxtel’s channels into attractive channel packs, with only one base pack required to gain access to the service. The base cost of entry is only $10/month, with once-pricey options like premium drama available for only $15/month.

Foxtel Now works on on Playstation 4, Telstra TV, iOS & Android devices (with full Chromecast support). You can also access it on PCs and Macs via a web browser, with the updated app coming soon to other platforms. Most excitingly, a dedicated Foxtel Now streaming box is right around the corner, giving everyone a high-quality, plug-and-play way of streaming Foxtel Now at an incredibly low price.

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Presto Review

Presto was reasonably priced and offered a decent selection of TV and movies. It was easy to use and  navigate. Presto improved a lot in the months following its launch. It used to be an economical offering to keep the family occupied or host some home movie or TV marathons with your mates.
View the full Presto review

Presto FAQs

Presto has focussed its app efforts almost entirely on smartphones and tablets. Your only option for an app on your TV screen to browse and view Presto with came from Samsung and Sony Bravia, which offered a built-in Presto app, making things nice and convenient. If you don’t have a Samsung TV, though, the much more economical way of getting Presto onto your TV used to be via Google Chromecast, a small HDMI “dongle” that costs under $50. Or for a more convenient “all in one” solution, Telstra home broadband customers were able to rent or buy the “T-Box” device, which included native support for Presto. Or Telstra’s newer Roku-powered Telstra TV device, which also came with native Presto support.
Generally speaking, a broadband connection that’s capable of handling a steady 3 megabits per second for the bulk of Presto’s content – it’s was fairly high bitrate for SD, which explains why it actually upscaled reasonably well on a large screen. Most home broadband connections should have been more than capable of handling a Presto stream. The HD content used a little more bandwidth – 4 Mbit/sec.

With Telstra Bigpond, Presto streaming was unmetered and unlimited! For everyone else, Presto’s SD content used about 1.5 GB of your cap for every hour..

Yes, the streaming service eventually offered a wide HD library. Users were able to experience 1080p content as well as 5.1 channel surround sound.