Choosing between Netflix and Foxtel Play can be tough. Both offer a growing range of content at competitive prices. To help out, we’ve collected their title offerings, compatibility requirements, and special features. Check them out before you make your final decision.

Content

Netflix offers one of the largest libraries of online content in the world. In addition, Netflix-original content has been making waves across the world. Examples include House of Cards and Orange is the New Black receiving wide-spread acclaim. Some recent additions have caused a stir amongst audiences – including the Marvel-produced Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and most recently, Iron Fist. Unfortunately, the remainder of the current Australian library is measurably less than what US subscribers enjoy. And with Netflix clamping down on the use of VPNs, this means less viewing for your dollar.
Netflix
But Netflix has recently adjusted its content acquisition strategy. Instead of local distribution agreements, the SVoD service is focusing on securing global rights. So the international Netflix library should become more consistent over time. In the meantime, Australian content available on Netflix includes The Time of our Lives, Janet King, and Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.

Foxtel Play offers access to Foxtel channel packages without a dedicated cable, which means that subscribers can access a massive amount of content. Straight off the bat, there are the 17 base entertainment channels. Then viewers also get to choose from five Genre packages – Drama, Pop, Docos, Lifestyle, and Kids. Both the Drama and Pop packs bring acclaimed HBO shows to the screen – meaning you get to watch Game of Thrones as soon as it comes out. Note that you have to choose one of these packs, and they’re in addition to the 17 other channels. If you’re feeling greedy, you can pick and mix amongst the Genre packs month to month. Viewers can also select from two Premium Picks – Movies and Sports – and even add on up to three new English Premier League channels. And this is a big deal – no other SVoD provider in Australia offers this level of access to live sports.

Looking at both the libraries, it’s clear that the range and amount of content is set to grow over time. Netflix continues to secure global licenses for its offerings, in addition to producing more of its own great programming. But it’s sports that sets Foxtel Play apart from Netflix. Currently, Foxtel holds rights to stream NRL, tennis, PGA golf, NFL, NBA, Rugby Sevens, A League, cricket surfing, V8 Supercars, and the F1 Grand Prix. Netflix does not.

However, it should be noted that these 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 will what the viewers enjoy.

Ease of Use

As discussed elsewhere, Netflix works on almost any device you care to mention. Netflix also allows for unlimited devices to access an account. However, users with the basic plan can only stream to one device at a time. This moves up to two devices on the standard plan, and four on premium.

Foxtel Play puts the majority of Foxtel’s content in reach of locations where cable or satellite access aren’t possible. Or desired. There’s no waiting around for an install. Just sign up and start watching with the Foxtel Play app. This app works on Mac, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 and 4, recent-model LG, Sony and Samsung smart TVs, and Samsung Blu-ray players. Mobile viewers can access their content via the Foxtel Go app, which is designed for iPhones, iPods touch, iPads, and a large range Samsung Android phones and tablets. Foxtel Play is also available on Telstra TV in HD.

Here’s the rub. Netflix limits screens based on the package you sign up for that month. But it doesn’t force users to register their devices. If your smartphone battery runs low, you can start streaming to your laptop in seconds. But Foxtel Play requires you to register each device you wish to use with the service – and you can only change this registration once per month. Foxtel Play also limits the number of active screens to two. If your phone goes bust and your laptop doesn’t have enough juice in the battery, you can’t just flip on the TV and get the Foxtel Play app. You have to have it registered in advance. This is a small concern overall, but it does limit your viewing options.

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Availability

Netflix adjusts its streaming quality based on the connections available. It has a suggested minimum recommended broadband speed of 1.5MB/s. But to make use of  4K streaming (aka Super HD), users need a minimum of 25MB/s. This puts it out of reach for many mobile users. But then again, how many smartphones have a 4K screen?

Foxtel Play needs a stable 3Mb/s to deliver steady SD streaming. At the present time, the only device to support HD streaming with Foxtel Play is the Telstra TV set-top box. This needs a minimum of 10Mb/s connections to work.

internet bandwidth
For more details on recommended broadband speeds, check out this article on SVoD data usage.

Value

Netflix offers three tiers of subscriptions. The Basic pack ($8.99/month) delivers the full catalogue to a single screen at a time in standard definition. The Standard pack ($11.99/month) enables HD streaming to two screens simultaneously. And the Premium pack ($14.99/month) offers 4K streaming to up to four screens. Again, no lock-in contracts, and new users can trial Netflix for free for 30 days.

Foxtel Play packs start at $10/month for the Docos, Lifestyle and Kids packs. It’s $15/month for the Drama and Pop packs – or $25/month for both Drama and Pop in a bundle. Each of these come with the aforementioned 17 base channels included. The Movie pack is an additional $20/month, and the Sports pack is another $29/month. No lock-in contracts, and users can pause their account whenever they want. HD streaming is only available to the Telstra TV set-top box, only three devices can be registered in each month, and only two screens can be active at any one time. The Foxtel Go app comes free, and lets you take your viewing on the go. Of course, if you want a taste of what’s on offer, you can trial Foxtel play free for 14 days.

Customer Service

The Netflix Help Center offers subscribers a searchable glossary of frequently-asked questions. Netflix does not offer an online peer-to-peer support community. But users can chat with a representative with an average wait time of under one minute. Customers can also call Netflix directly, with a one-minute wait time in most cases. Lost passwords are easily resolved, with users receiving email support in seconds.

Foxtel Play leverages the interactive online subscriber community put in place by its parent company. This lets subscribers offer advice to their peers based on past experiences. The streamlined FAQ is easy to navigate, and the support page helps subscribers tackle most issues. Users can also get on Twitter for quick interactions directly with Foxtel-trained staff. Subscribers can also email Foxtel support for a guaranteed response within 24 hours. For password resets, an automated service emails the users within seconds of the request.

Features

Netflix features a personalised online interface. It showcases customised film taste profiles and ratings based on subscriber feedback. Users look at highly-rated reviews from other subscribers, but not from top critics – which means the reviews tend to vary in relevance. Most modern game consoles, HDTVs, tablets, and smartphones offer a free Netflix app. And Netflix offers high-definition films and shows, but their availability is subject to bandwidth and subscription. This is because Netflix adjusts playback quality to eliminate buffering screens, and grades playback based on how much you’re paying each month.
netflix original 13 reasons why
Netflix’s personalised home page shows featured content, past viewing and recently trending viewing options. Source, Netflix.
If you’ve used any Foxtel product, you’ll be familiar with Foxtel Play’ interface. The Home screen displays two main panels – one for live streaming, the other for catch-up viewing. The Live TV panel shows all the channels available on Play, but greying out channels that aren’t included in your subscription. The ever-present now-next-later EPG with inset video makes browsing the channels a breeze. The Catch-Up panel displays featured content, as well as easy to use filter options. Having selected a channel, movie or program, the app takes a few seconds to buffer before beginning playback. The video is not as high quality as you might get through a dedicated cable, except on the Telstra TV. Foxtel Go extends the range of devices you can watch on, but the limit is still set to two screens for simultaneous streaming.
Foxtel Play Home screen displays featured viewing options
The Foxtel Play “Home” screen displays featured viewing options. Source:Foxtel Play.

Choosing Between Foxtel Play and Netflix

Both viewing platforms continue to expand their libraries and improve their technical deliveries. This makes it hard to choose which offering is worth your hard-earned coin.

On one hand, Netflix has the technical advantage. The streaming quality and device compatibility range, and flexibility of viewing options without device registration keep it ahead of Foxtel Play. Netflix keeps track of what you watch and remembers where you left off. It also offers suggestions based on what your peers are viewing.

On the other hand, Foxtel Play’s live-streaming can either be a pro or a con. If you like a good binge-session, then Foxtel Play misses the mark. If you like just sitting down and selecting a channel, a la traditional FTA TV, then Foxtel Play hits the spot. But the big differentiator is the Sports Package add-on. Netflix doesn’t do sport at all, live or otherwise. But Foxtel Play delivers access to a wide range of live broadcasts favourites like AFL, NRL, Super Rugby, Supercars, and F1®. Euro-football fans can watch UEFA Champions League matches live, along with all Serie A, Bundesliga and La Liga matches.

Netflix comes up ahead in terms of price and technical slickness. The buffer-less viewing make watching movies and series a breeze, while the low $8.99 entry point is appealing to everyone’s wallet. Unless sports matters in your viewing mix? In which case, Foxtel Play is the obvious answer. The only caveat being Foxtel Play’s higher price point of $39/month (that’s $10/month for basic access and $29/month for the Sports package).

To really get to grips with these offerings, it’s best to try them out in person. Netflix makes this easy with a 30-day free trial, and Foxtel Play delivers a 14-day free trial as well. So why not try both?

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3 Comments

  1. Stavroula Saniotis October 31, 2015 at 4:41 pm - Reply

    Excellent comparison. Very informative, concise but covering everything.
    I was in this dilemma not long ago. We were with Adam internet and hubby was downloading viruses trying to watch free movies because he was bored with TV. I was about to purchase NETFLIX which sounded good and pretty cheap considering what you c an watch for a month compared to cinema, movie rental, etc. The convenience and security were a bonus. However we ended getting a Telstra bundle which didn’t appear to have NETFLIX but we could get 6 months free PRESTO and then pay for it if we liked it. He thinks there are too many old movies on it but I love having it at my fingertips and we use it a lot.
    Thanks for this information. It’s good to know the differences and similarities.
    They both seem good.
    Stav. S.

  2. Graeme Barrett May 22, 2016 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the great review. Still confused, but very informative review. I will try the free offerings when I connect to NBN and see which winds with me. And that’s what it’s really all about, I guess. One thing I am looking for is a larger content of UK programs, so will just have to read through the lists.

    Ta
    Graeme B

  3. Wendy July 20, 2016 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    From my experience, Presto cant compete with Netflix. Netflix has a 24 hour phone in help desk – which for new customers is essential. Presto offers an email service if you need any kind of help. They might respond 3 days later if you’re lucky. However there is a community web site where you can post queries. For this lack of service, you pay $5.00 more than Netflix.

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