All-you-can-eat entertainment for a few dollars per month seems like a bargain, but don’t expect Netflix and Australia’s other streaming services to offer every movie and TV show ever made.
It’s been a long time coming but Australians are finally spoiled for choice when it comes to all-you-can-eat subscription video services. Local pioneer Quickflix has forged the way, fighting a clandestine war with US streaming video giant Netflix. Now Netflix is officially coming to Australia in March, competing on a level playing field with Quickflix. They’re joined by new Aussie streaming rivals Presto (backed by the Seven Network and Foxtel) and Stan (backed by the Nine Network and Fairfax).
All four streaming video services promise to put a wealth of movies and TV shows at your fingertips for around $10 per month. They’ll be a welcome addition to many Australian lounge rooms, but don’t tear down your television aerial, throw away your movie rental box or abandon your pay TV subscription just yet.
Despite what some people think, you won’t find every movie and TV show ever made on Netflix, Quickflix, Presto or Stan. In fact you’ll generally have less to choose from than your local video rental store, assuming it hasn’t already been run out of business and turned into a late-night kebab shop.
Subscription services have to wait months or even years before they can add new release rentals to their all-you-can-eat libraries. For example, popular children’s movie The Boxtrolls was released for rent in mid-January but you couldn’t find it in Netflix, Stan or Presto. It was on Quickflix, but not in the subscription library – you had to pay an extra $5.99 for an overnight rental, just like any other movie rental service.
Chances are that The Boxtrolls will come to Foxtel’s Presto’s subscription library first, because Presto works slightly differently to the other subscription services.
You need to pay $14.99 per month if you want both movies and TV shows from Presto. Alternatively you can pay $9.99 for just Presto Movies or just Presto Entertainment.
Presto Movies offers around a thousand movies but no television shows. It draws titles from Foxtel’s movie channels; Premiere, Comedy, Romance, Thriller, Action, Family and Masterpiece. The Premiere Movies channel screens movies seven to ten months after their cinematic release – giving Presto an advantage over Netflix and the other subscription services which have to wait longer.
This means Presto should be first to add new movies to its subscription library. The trade-off is that there’s no permanent back catalogue. Some movies vanish from Presto each month as they disappear from Foxtel’s movie channel line up. This makes Presto more attractive for new movies, but Netflix and the others more attractive for revisiting the classics.
That said, Netflix, Quickflix and Stan’s movie back catalogues are full of holes. For example you’ll find Star Wars on the weekly shelf in your video store but not in any of these subscription services. Rattle off a list of your all-time favourite movies and you’ll be lucky to find more than a handful in Netflix. It’s a limitation more to do with online rights deals than their reluctance to offer your favourite films.
Trying to find a movie to watch on any of these subscription services is incredibly frustrating if you search by name. It’s less painful to simply browse through the library and choose from what’s actually available. Rather than the ultimate movie archive, Netflix is more like unlimited access to the weekly rentals section down the back of your local video store, but with many of your favourites still missing.
Thankfully there are free trials so you can test out Australia’s various subscription movie services for yourself, but if you’re expecting to find every movie ever made then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.