Thursday 14 May 2015

Internet Streaming Services

Netflix, Stan, Presto, Quickflix. If these names don't mean much to you then read on. They are part of the new generation of internet streaming services that have been released in Australia. Streaming services allow legal downloading of media content, such as movies and TV series, to a suitable device, such as a mobile device, computer or smart TV. Service providers charge a flat monthly fee to access their online content. The pricing is quite competitive as the providers jostle for customers in this new market.  Netflix's are the cheapest with their basic plan at $9 per month with most providers plans starting from $10. This allows access on unlimited devices but only one stream (i.e. only one device can view the service at a time). The down side is the video quality is only standard definition (SD), which is not ideal for larger high definition (HD) TVs but suitable for mobile devices. If you prefer the option of HD content you can choose a more expensive plan. That being said SD will not use as much data as HD. Which brings me to the other possible downside of the streaming services. 
You will need a reasonably fast connection  and a healthy monthly data quota to use these services. The average SD movie will use about 1GB per hour and a HD movie will use 3GB per hour. This is an important consideration if you have a limited amount of data per month, especially if you get charged if you go over your quota. Telstra has been upgrading monthly quotas to cater for the increased bandwidth demand. Optus and iiNet have unmetered plans for  Netflix service (which means that Netflix downloads won't affect your monthly data usage). 
Another consideration is the content that is available from the providers. Netflix is US based and has some in house content but also partners with traditional content providers such as The Walt Disney Company and Roadshow Entertainment. Rights for Australia were not as inclusive which is why the US subscribers get access to 7000 more titles than Australian viewers. Presto is backed by Channel 7 and the Foxtel consortium (with links to Telstra) and also have distribution deals with other content providers. Stan seems to have one of the better TV show partnerships with access to Sony, SBS, CBS and more content providers. In addition to streaming online content, Quickflix offer a DVD/Bluray postal delivery service for $12.99 per month (postage is included).  
So in short, you won't be able to get all titles from any one provider and it would pay to research which shows you prefer before signing up with them. Alternatively you can just get subscriptions for each service, as long as your internet connection can handle the downloads. Happy viewing.