With the availability of blistering Internet speeds and unlimited downloads, media streaming is fast becoming the way to watch TV.
Pay TV and online streaming offer slightly different things, and you might need both if you're an 'active' viewer.
Unlikely the good old days of free-to-air TV, when the most difficult choice was who will get up and change the channel, now you can choose from many media providers. Both free to air and pay TV are still available, but online streaming is a great alternative.
Here’s a breakdown of the different paid TV services available in Australia:
Foxtel is one of the oldest and most establish pay TV providers. One of the biggest draw cards of Foxtel is their exclusive broadcast rights for major TV series and sporting events. Foxtel also has a store where you can rent movies and other content, including latest releases. To watch Foxtel, you will need a satellite dish or cable, which the company will install for you. However, contracts are usually lengthy and locked in.
Netflix is an online media streaming service. It has a range of movies and shows available for streaming over the internet. Unlike Foxtel, which has lots of the latest content and major sporting events, Netflix has more movie content. Netflix also produces a lot of it’s own TV shows these days and the shows are released around the world simultaneously. It is also much cheaper than traditional pay TV. However, Netflix is streamed online, which means it requires a fast internet connection and high download limited.
Stan is an Australian version of Netflix. It has a similar monthly subscription fee as Netflix and similar content. It is, however, more Australian-centric. So, if you are after some classic Aussie drama or movies like ‘The Castle’, consider Stan.
Fetch TV is also streamed online. However, unlike Netflix and Stan which offer individual movies or shows, Fetch TV works more like a pay TV services. It has lots of content and can be played on demand, so there are not ads or viewing breaks.
You can use Apple TV to access Stan or Netflix, in which case it is free. Otherwise, you can buy content from the iTunes library. It’s a bit like renting a video for the night; just search iTunes and watch it. Not a bad option if you only want the occasional movie.
Each service has advantages and drawbacks. Pay TV services are more expensive and have lots of ads, but they usually have the latest content and major sporting events. Online streaming services require a fast internet connection but are much cheaper, and you get much more control over watch content you can access.
In reality, pay TV and online streaming offer slightly different things, and you might need both if you’re an ‘active’ viewer. Fortunately, all providers openly advertise what content they have, so it isn’t hard to find one that will suit your viewing needs.