Netflix vs Stan vs Foxtel Now
Netflix and Stan provide excellent content and the availability is improving all the time. Photo: Supplied

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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!

Content

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 356 TV shows and counting, and 1,124 blockbuster movies ready to show on demand.

The parent company StreamCo is co-owned by Nine Entertainment Co. and Fairfax Media – meaning it has access to some well-known titles. These include exclusive offerings like Roadies, Billions, Better Call Saul, Dig, Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and Community, as well as an extensive selection from US cable giant Showtime’s catalogue.

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Australian content includes shows such as the complete series of Frontline, The Hollowmen, Round The Twist, Fat Pizza, Underbelly, We Can Be Heroes, and Gallipoli. And Stan has begun producing its own content, too. These include the comedy series No Activity and the horror-drama series Wolf Creek. On the cinematic front, Stan delivers modern titles like The LEGO Movie, San Andreas, Man of Steel and Gravity as well as older favourites like Zoolander, Top Gun, Robocop and Clueless.

Fellow SVoD contender Netflix boasts an impressive 958 TV shows and 2,362 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 like House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. As well as the much-lauded Marvel connection Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Luke Cage. For those after a darker story, A Series Of Unfortunate Events has also begun airing.

Australian produced content available on Netflix includes Seachange, Utopia, and Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo.

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.

best TV Streaming services
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

Ease of Use

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 and Telstra 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, and Chromecast. Other devices, including PlayStation 3 & 4, Xbox One and select Smart TVs are able to stream Foxtel content live in SD via the Foxtel Play app. Mobile viewers can access their content via the Foxtel Now app, which is designed for 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.

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Availability

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.

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Value

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, definitions or number of screens. 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. Currently, no Australian ISPs offers unmetered access to Stan’s content. However, 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.

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.

Customer Service

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 Play, 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.

Features

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. There are official viewing apps available for Android and iOS phones and tablets. And next-generation game consoles and Smart TVs also have easy access. In addition, both Chromecast and AppleTV work with Netflix. The service also cuts buffering by adjusting playback quality in response to bandwidth availability. Netflix lets you watch from up to four screens simultaneously, and does not cap the devices used.

Foxtel Play 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. In particular the mix of a detailed now-next-later guide with an inset video screen of the selected. 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. The flat rate simplifies access, and the combination of search and save-for-later features is quite valuable.

Netflix offers the cheapest 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 Play 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 make 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!

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View Comments

27 Comments

  1. Richard June 20, 2015 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Stan has stopped showing James Bond – shocking when you consider how they beat it up in their advertising

  2. James January 11, 2016 at 12:40 am - Reply

    Stan does not seem to have closed captions.

    • Compare TV January 19, 2016 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      Closed Captions are now available on PC/Mac, Mobile and Tablet, Apple TV, PlayStation 3 and 4, LG Smart TV, and Chromecast and AirPlay on selected titles. Stan has advised that they we will be adding closed captions to more titles periodically.

  3. Tom January 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    I have noticed that all of them “hide” their libraries until you have signed up. Clever little fellas, eh?

  4. Rosanne January 30, 2016 at 10:14 am - Reply

    I have subscribed for the standard pack for Netflix.. Could I still downgrade if I need to after the trial period runs out.
    2. There’s a difference of stan’s rate of $10p/m as compared to Netflix $12 p/m on standard pack. Why is there a difference in price?
    3.Does Stan have movies and Tv shows like Netflix ?

    • Anthony Horan February 15, 2016 at 6:33 pm - Reply

      Yes, you can change Netflix plans any time you like – though the change won’t take effect until the billing month ends.

      Yes, Stan does indeed have both movies and TV shows – different ones to Netflix, with some crossover. Netflix’s standard subscription is actually only $8.99 per month, by the way, so they’re technically cheaper than Stan – although the $8.99 plan doesn’t include streaming in high definition. If you don’t want HD, then you can save money by dropping down to the cheaper plan.

  5. John March 11, 2016 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Your article above is full of horse radishes!

    The download speeds you quote for STAN are shown in Mega Bytes per second, which is nonsense. Why don’t you try Mega Bits instead – only about one eighth the speed that you’re claiming.

    • Anthony Horan March 14, 2016 at 6:29 pm - Reply

      You’re completely right, John – the numbers are right, but we’ve used “MB” instead of “Mb” in our article layout. We’ll get that corrected!

  6. Jodie March 18, 2016 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Stan never loads, it was a total waste of time. You can’t get support over the phone either.

    • Anthony Horan March 21, 2016 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      You can get support from them (and super-fast as well!) using their other contact methods, though. As well as using the Contact Support link on their site, if you’re on Facebook you can message them directly from their official page there. They usually reply within minutes.

  7. Kevin March 31, 2016 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    In the first month of trying both Netflix and Stan here is my honest opinion of both. For content they both have an extensive amount of content, for people of hard of hearing Stan doesn’t have subtitles or closed caption on majority of their contents where as Netflix has Subtitles or Closed caption on all their content, Data – Stan chews through data like no tomorrow 4 movies and you can go through 100 gb no problem where as Netflix I can watch 10+ before hitting that amount in gigabytes. Loading speed Netflix is a winner in that department loads under 5 seconds where as Stan takes about 30 seconds to a 1 minute. Cost – Stan is the winner in this department $10 p/m for unlimited devices where as Netflix is $14.99 for 3 plus devices. Netflix in my honest opinion is the best on demand there is out there and with the latest updates they have added even more content. Stan needs to up there game as it has some serious flaws that need to be fixed especially in the department for people who are hard of hearing if Stan can fix this problem they will gain more people on their system.

    • Anthony Horan April 4, 2016 at 6:51 pm - Reply

      Hi Kevin,

      Stan’s been working hard on adding closed captions to their content, and I believe the number of titles with captions enabled now numbers in the hundreds; they’re definitely playing catch-up, though, compared to Netflix, as you point out.

      As far as data usage goes, you won’t see Stan using 100GB for four movies – while Stan at its highest quality setting does use a higher bitrate than Netflix, you should only be seeing 4GB of data usage an hour at the most – which would put four 2-hour movies at around 32GB. You can of course drop the quality level on Stan if data usage or buffering is an issue.

  8. Imogen Rawlings April 17, 2016 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    I am tossing up between netflix and stan. I’m 18 and these new types of movie streaming seem to be all the rage! Which one would you say is best and also has the most options for my 12 year old sister? I want the best value for money. Price isn’t really a massive issue for me as most seem to be pretty cheap (e.g. $10 for stan, $15 for Netflix premium). What do you guys think? Thanks for your help!

    • Anthony Horan April 19, 2016 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Both services are great, and both offer a huge range of content; also, both have kids/family sections, though I’d say Netflix has the better selection in that department, and for a wider range of ages. Stan is geared more towards adult viewers, but has plenty to appeal to everyone, including older teenagers. The best thing to do would be to try them both out yourself – both offer a free 30-day trial, and you get to use them for the full 30 days even if you cancel right after signing up.

      Also bear in mind that the $15 plan on Netflix is for “4 screens” (four people can watch at the same time) and Ultra HD (only for those with the latest 4k TVs). If you don’t need either of those features, you can get the $12/month plan, which lets two people watch at the same time, and provides standard HD.

  9. Alçidio June 4, 2016 at 11:04 am - Reply

    Can we use a gift card instead of our credit cards for Stan like Netflix

    • Anthony Horan June 6, 2016 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Yes you can! They’re available from retailers like JB, Woolworths etc, and can be used to top up an existing subscription or to start a new one. No credit card details are needed to start a new subscription (though they give you a bonus free month if you choose to provide them).

  10. Annette June 5, 2016 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    What happened to the Bond catalogue on Stan? Very disappointing that now that son is older, he can start enjoying them and they are gone!

    • Anthony Horan June 6, 2016 at 8:58 pm - Reply

      They’ve been and gone a couple of times since Stan launched at the start of last year; when asked about it I recall they said that the films are only available to them on a limited-time licence. They’ve been back before, though, and I’d guess they will eventually be back again!’

  11. denbo July 10, 2016 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    I use UnBlock us – for no other reason than I like a bit more anonimity.

    Netflix, which has always been a pain to connect to, now won’t let us connect at all until we move away from a prox server.

    So, Netflix is net Flicked ans Stan is ‘in’ right now.

    Just hope it’s content gets better.

  12. Joel Siganto July 16, 2016 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    I believe that stan has a larger content of movies and tv shows were as netflix keeps on failing :}

  13. john July 28, 2016 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Hi i have Netflix that i can stream on any Smart TV, I also joined Stan at the time I thought I was able to stream Stan on any smart TV but that dose not appear to be the case unless there is some think I have to down load so I can, my smart TV are Panasonic and Hisense, i do enjoy Stan on my computer as well as Netflix. I did email Stan but not much happiness from them, Can any one help…………..

    cheers john

  14. Diandra July 29, 2016 at 1:24 am - Reply

    I have both stan and Netflix, they are both great.
    Stan has movies Netflix does not and Netflix has movies stan does not.

    TV shows on the other hand Netflix is much better except the O.C

    I also think Netflix is much easier to use! As it fits your needs and interests and suggests movies based on your intrests and previously watched movies and shows. Stan does not do this which is a massive bummer and I really hate that about stan!

  15. Keith August 23, 2016 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    Whoever judged these two Netflix v Stan are so wrong, today 23/08/2016. I searched for two (2) movies. “We are Marshall” and “Batman v Superman”. STAN had both and many more new titles, to many to list. Netfix is not even close.
    STAN has the best Film library. So who ever wrote the article has no idea

    • Anthony Horan August 23, 2016 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      I think CJ (who wrote the article) was very balanced in his assessment of the value of both services – and as the article says, streaming service libraries constantly change, and so does the taste of individual viewers. I agree that Stan has a superb movie library – but that’s just a part of the whole picture.

      Myself, I subscribe to both and I can’t see that changing any time soon!

  16. Janet October 30, 2016 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    Still confused in my choice.

    • Anthony Horan November 2, 2016 at 11:53 am - Reply

      You could always try both out – you can have 30 days free on both, plenty of time to road-test each service and see what’s best for you (just be sure to cancel before the 30 days is up if you decide you don’t want one or both of them!)

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