For years, Australians have been hungering for a streaming service that will deliver them the huge depth and quality of HBO programming amongst a whole bunch of things not available outside of pay TV. The long-anticipated answer to that hunger arrived this week with Binge – and it’s hard to resist digging in with the list of stuff that’s on offer!
Before the Binge
While we all take our streaming services almost for granted now, it’s a little-known fact that while Stan and Netflix were still making launch plans here in Australia, back in 2014 Foxtel launched the first streaming salvo in the form of Presto. It only lasted until 2017, hampered by technical issues and a lack of long-term streaming rights that meant your favourite HBO shows would only last a few months then vanish. Game of Thrones wasn’t even allowed on Presto at all, much to the chagrin of its millions of fans.
In the years since, Foxtel’s gotten clever – they built a new division entirely dedicated to streaming services, called Streamotion. That team put together the phenomenally successful Kayo Sports service which broke new ground in terms of features and quality for a sports streaming service, not just in Australia but globally. That same team has been working on a complementary project for some time now; originally named “Ares” it’s finally arrived for public consumption with a name that’s all about everything TV – Binge.
In this Review
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What is Binge?
If you think about the huge library of content that Foxtel has the rights to, you’ll know that it’s traditionally been divided up into packages – movies, drama, lifestyle, docos. That works great for those who know what they want, love the convenience of Foxtel’s iQ4 box and are mostly interested in live TV channels.
But for those of us in the streaming era, live TV isn’t important at all – it’s all about the content, and the huge success of services like Netflix and Stan has shown that if you build it, they will come.
Binge is basically a Netflix/Stan style streaming service that has access to all the content goodness of Foxtel’s extensive library – including the decades-spanning library of unmatched television from HBO, arguably one of the greatest TV producers of all time. Binge is going to enjoy a long relationship with HBO thanks to a deal signed just recently, but beyond that network (and its brand-new HBO Max shows, also coming to the service) there’s content aplenty here.
If Binge can stream it, you’ll find it all included, and all for the one monthly price – no “packs” to be found here. Shows from the BBC, FX, Fox, The CW, DC Universe and more are all there for the bingeing – and wherever possible, they’re all complete collections of seasons so you can binge to your heart’s content.
Alongside the drama content, there’s movies – many, many movies. We counted around 800 at launch and the idea is to have new ones popping up constantly, keeping things interesting.
And then there’s a huge range of docos – including some of the BBC’s most acclaimed outings with David Attenborough, and stuff from a huge range of eras and themes including, of course, plenty of true crime!
Lifestyle fans get a range of series about food, travel, home and garden. Reality TV fans will find the Kardashians and the Real Housewives represented amongst many other things.
There’s a vast array of content on offer here, and Binge’s web site and apps help you sort through it by dividing things into sub-categories -so you can just browse True Crime if you want, or just docos about historical topics.
As you find stuff you want to watch, you can add it to your “BingeList” – which is Binge’s name for a watch list – and then click the button succinctly labelled BINGE to start doing exactly that.
Just having access to the vast archive of HBO content – as well as their new shows and other stuff, like Last Week Tonight – is invaluable, but there’s so much other content on offer alongside it that you’re really going to need to set aside a few of those isolation months to get started on all the stuff you’re likely to run across and eagerly add to your list.
Binge launches with something that’s a first for a Foxtel company, at least in terms of non-sport content – an Apple TV app. That’s a big deal for the many users of those superb devices, and Binge’s app doesn’t disappoint with its visually engaging interface. It’s not all smooth sailing on the Apple TV – at launch, the frame rate is locked to 50Hz and there are some bugs with Dolby audio support – but still, it’s an absolute revelation to finally have access to this library of content on the Apple TV, and it should greatly expand Binge’s reach.
Of course, it’s not all about Apple (though the iPhone/iPad apps are superb as well) – Binge is ready to roll on Telstra TV, Android TV (including Sony smart TVs), and Android phones and tablets. Support for Samsung smart TVs is on the way, and game consoles – both Playstation and Xbox – are also on the map.
For the time being, though, if you want Binge on the big screen and don’t have a device that can do it, grab a Chromecast. Binge supports all Chromecasts except the first-generation (stick-shaped) model, and that’ll get your Bingelist up on your big screen for under 50 bucks.
User profiles are supported – great news for shared households and families. At launch you can have up to six profiles, and Binge says this will increase not too far down the track.
Devices supported on BINGE
– PC/Mac: Yes – Web browser only (Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge); supported on MacOS: 10.12+ & Windows: 10+
– iOS Mobile Devices: Yes – iOS12+ including Apple iPhones/iPads
– Android Mobile Devices: Yes – Android Phone/Tablets OS 7+
– Google Chromecast: Yes – Chromecast Ultra & latest 3rd Generation + (excluding 1st Generation)
– Apple TV: Yes – 4th Gen or higher; tvOS 12+
– Telstra TV: Yes – All models
– Android TV: Yes – OS: V 7.0+ and above
So here’s the big news – Binge is cheap. Like, REALLY cheap. The entry-level plan is a mere $10/month, though that restricts you to standard definition only. That also lets you watch on only one screen at a time; it’s ideal for people planning on doing their bingeing while travelling, on a phone or tablet.
The next tier up adds high definition streaming, and the ability to have two screens streaming at a time. That’s $14 a month, an undeniable bargain for the content on offer (and like the other plan tiers, almost directly comparable to those from Netflix and Stan). The top tier is $18/month but you don’t get 4K – Binge says that’s at least a year away – but you get to stream of four screens at once. There’s your family plan right there.
Users on Apple TV and iOS can subscribe via Apple, potentially taking advantage of discounted iTunes cards when available. However, the minimum subscription tier when paying via Apple is the $14 HD one (priced at $13.99 there).
A 14-day free trial is available to everyone so you can get a solid look at what’s on offer, though with 10,000 hours of content said to be there at launch, you’re going to need a bit longer to binge it all!
Last audited 14 September 2020
BINGE Video Review
If you’re already a Kayo user, it’s worth mentioning that Binge uses the same platform as its sport sibling, and the same account system – you effectively have a “Streamotion account” rather than a Kayo or Binge account. So keep that in mind when signing up, as your mobile phone number is attached to your account for both so you’ll need to sign in with the same details. You do, however, pay for each service separately, and can subscribe to one or the other without hassle.
However, this does make the signup process a little confusing, especially for those who’ve used a different email for their Kayo trail ages ago then tried to sign up for Binge with a different email but the same mobile number. We’re sure Binge will be working on making the process easier – and their responses to our support emails today were faster than any other company you’re likely to deal with, getting it sorted fast.
If you’re a Kayo Sports subscriber adding Binge to a current account, though, it’ll be smooth sailing. And keep this in mind – the combo of Binge and Kayo costs you a total of $39 a month for all the drama, movies, reality, lifestyle, docos AND sport you can stream. Quite seriously a bargain of the highest order if you want it all.
Here in Australia we’ve missed out on the ability to just “watchlist and stream” shows from HBO and some others for years. Sure, you have had the ability to buy them on iTunes or Google Play, or subscribe to the excellent Foxtel Now, but having that on-demand interactive streaming experience that we’ve come to love is so much nicer. And that’s what Binge delivers with a huge library of very, very desirable content.
The killer feature here is the price – the sweet spot of $14/month for HD gives you access to a vast cache of TV treasures, alongside new shows and a whole bunch of other content, all streaming on your big screen at your command.
Whether you love to binge, or just want to dive into the worlds of some of the best TV ever made, this is one of the best bargains out there right now.
What people are asking about BINGE
BINGE is a one-stop-shop for all the best TV and Movie entertainment broadcast across Foxtel’s wide landscape of channels. The concept is simple – a user-friendly platform where you can watch entire seasons of your favourite series, and well as entire franchises from the world of cinema.
BINGE has a huge library of TV shows, movies and documentaries pulled straight from Foxtel’s extensive pool of content, making it the perfect choice for the whole family. As well as hard-hitting drama such as Mrs America and Westworld, you can also watch award-winning docos from National Geographic and The BBC, as well as the best offerings from Nick Jr and The Cartoon Network.
That depends on what you want to watch and how? If you would like to profit by watching your favourite shows and movies on a mobile device, using as little data as possible, then BINGE is ideal. With BINGE you also have the option to cancel your monthly subscription at any time. The benefits of Foxtel includes access to all of Foxtel’s content (Sports, Music, Kids, Entertainment), in full 4K HD with IQ4 Box, but you will need to sign up long term.
BINGE has an Android TV app that works easily with most Sony TVs. However, due to ongoing development, there is no app for Samsung TV yet, but one is on the way. Apps for both iOS and Android tablets and phones let you take BINGE on the go, and you can also Chromecast from those apps to either a stand-alone or built-in Chromecast device.
BINGE easily holds its own when compared to the wealth of alternative streaming options available today. Their TV series alone really pack a punch, with some of the best shows from the past 20 years including The Sopranos, Sex And The City and The Wire. Add to that modern classics such as Euphoria, Chernobyl and The Walking Dead and it’s easy to see why BINGE is at least on an even keel with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. BINGE is also home to the biggest HBO shows coming straight from the US which is a huge pull for TV fans.
All three monthly payment plans for BINGE, along with their free two-week trial, are available with Telstra. This means that you can easily add BINGE to your Telstra plan so that everything is paid in one, easy place. A Basic plan costs only $10/month which one user can use at any given time, with content streamed in standard definition. A Standard Plan costs $14/month (watch on two screens at once) whilst a Premium Plan will set you back $18/month (four screens at once), and both have SD and HD options.