Netflix vs Stan vs Presto vs Quickflix: It's not just about the pricing

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We now know how much Netflix will cost when it launches tomorrow, which means that price comparison with other streaming services is easy. However, it’s not the only factor you should consider.
Want a simple table comparing the prices of each streaming service in Australia?
Here y’go. Knock yourself out.
[table]
Streaming Services Price Comparison,,,,
Service,Plan Name,Monthly Cost,Number of registered devices,Number of permitted simultaneous streams
Stan,Stan,$10 ,6,3
Presto,Movies,$9.95 ,4,2
Presto,TV,$9.95 ,4,2
Presto,Entertainment (Movies+TV),$14.95 ,4,2
Quickflix,Streaming,$9.95 ,No limit specified,3
Netflix,SD,$8.99 ,No limit specified,1
Netflix,HD,$11.99 ,No limit specified,2
Netflix,Ultra HD,$14.99 ,No limit specified,4
[/table]
It makes for interesting reading. Netflix has come in quite aggressively, and that single stream SD package is actually cheaper than its US equivalent once you take exchange rates into consideration. For once you don’t have to add GST to make the comparison fair, because Netflix isn’t charging it.
Still, it doesn’t tell the whole picture that you need to consider when considering a streaming service.

What about the content?

This is always key. A leak of Netflix’s purported content library for Australia went quite viral on Sunday night, and while it does appear fairly extensive, I’m holding to my prediction that it’ll be a mere shadow of its US counterpart. That’ll presumably mean a lot of existing Australian Netflix-via-VPN customers will remain in that particular basket. Externally Netflix has to show some concern there to keep its rights holders happy, but I’m pretty certain that internally, it’s just another credit card charge to add to Netflix’s already straining coffers.
That doesn’t mean that Netflix is the automatic home run even if you’re only looking at its Australian content library, however. Rivals Stan and to a lesser extent Presto and Quickflix have their own streaming arrangements including what’s purported to be “exclusive” titles. This is the real killer for any streaming service, because my tastes will vary from yours, and as such, if one service has a million titles but nothing you’d watch but the other only has a thousand and you’d watch every single one, the value argument is pretty clear.

$14.99 to watch Daredevil in Ultra HD? Yeah, I'm up for that being "value", even if my network connection will probably scream at me all month long.
$14.99 to watch Daredevil in Ultra HD? Yeah, I’m up for that being “value”, even if my network connection will probably scream at me all month long.

A quick side diversion on “value”, if I may. It’s obviously a relative thing, but I’ve already seen a few “too expensive” cries go up. I can only assume these are the cries of bloodsucking leeches, because seriously, even the $15 price point for full Netflix or full Presto isn’t a heck of a lot to spend for a month’s entertainment. You could easily boost past that with one cinema movie or just a couple of streaming movie rentals in a month. Or in other words, watch more than three hours of content a month, and you’re golden. Everyone’s operating on a no-contract month by month basis anyway, so you can easily cancel if you feel you’ve “watched out” a particular library.

What about the playback?

I covered this in detail over at Lifehacker Australia last week, but the key point here is one of being able to watch what you want on the device that you want. Here Netflix has a big advantage, as it’s finally announced the platforms it’ll launch on. As per Netflix Australia’s release this morning:

Members can stream on nearly any Internet-connected screen including smart televisions, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, and Apple iOS, Windows and Android tablets and smartphones. Data charges may apply for mobile and home broadband connections.
The service also will be available on Fetch TV’s second-generation set-top box. Film and TV fans can also access Netflix on game consoles, including Sony’s PlayStation 3 (PS3) and PlayStation 4 (PS4), Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Xbox One, and Nintendo’s Wii U.

Comparatively, Presto covers a handful of Android devices, iOS devices and Google’s Chromecast, although as I noted in my review, Chromecast streaming is both crash-prone and eats up both of your “available” streams. Stan’s a little better with the inclusion of Airplay via iOS or Mac OS devices, but it’s also designed around Microsoft’s Silverlight for browsers. Quickflix is the most competitive here with a variety of smart TV, console and mobile clients, but the most frequent time you hear about Quickflix are the nearly endless stories about how they’re running out of money. It’s hard not to feel a bit sorry for Quickflix, as they were, locally speaking, the first movers in this market, but equally I’d be surprised to see them still around in a year or two. Maybe not even that long.

Freebies are your friends

The good news for the consumer here is that you’re neither stuck with just one service, presuming your internet connection is up to the task, and you’re also quite free to sample everything on offer without spending a cent.
All of the current subscription streaming services offer limited time trials — 30 days for Presto, Netflix and Stan, and just 14 for Quickflix — so you can try before you buy, although most will want some credit card details on file to stop abuse of the system. It’s a good way to browse content libraries, because nobody really publishes a “full” list of what they’re offering anyway, as well as sort out whether your available network speeds are up to the task for HD or even Ultra HD content.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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