We live in a very exciting time for home entertainment. As media giants engage in all out war for our eyeballs and cash, at the end of the day, the winner will always be the viewer.
Over the weekend, Village Roadshow revealed it was in talks with streaming giant Netflix, suggesting the US streaming giant might be poised to open in Australia. Rumours have been rife for a long time that the company was looking at Australia, which is a world leader in content piracy.
Internet media streaming is the latest weapon to win your dollar, with a variety of companies offering on demand services that allow you greater flexibility and choice than ever before.
Simply throw some popcorn in the microwave, log on, choose what you want to watch, then sit back and enjoy the show.
Quickflix & Ezyflix
The top two independent media streaming services in Australia, Ezyflix and Quickflix offer a comparable service and flexibility of entertainment options.
Both feature content on demand, streamed directly to your device of choice, with some media available in both Standard Definition and HD.
Ezyflix is also an Australian UltraViolet provider, meaning you can access movies purchased online or via a redeem code (usually with a DVD or Blu-ray), and view directly from the cloud.
Watch Quickflix or Ezyflix for: A large range of new movies and TV, from the likes of HBO, AMC and CBS, as well as major motion picture companies.
Apple TV & iTunes
Cost: $109 for Apple TV, plus rental/purchases
If you’re a member of the Cult of Mac, Apple TV is a logical choice for your needs. More than a streaming media viewer, this device ties all your Mac products together, giving you ‘bridge of the Enterprise’ control of your entertainment.
Browse the huge range of iTunes TV shows and movies, choose your poison, then either rent (movies only) or buy it. The latter makes a great option if you want to keep a favourite flick or TV show to watch again, whenever you want.
Sure, Apple content is available via any iTunes enabled device (PC, tablet, iPhone), but the full power of this service is unlocked when you add Apple TV into the mix, to share content on your HD TV.
Like most things Mac, Apple TV is easy to set up (via any iOS device) and even easier to navigate, so is well suited to a family setting.
Watch Apple TV for: Swift access to a huge range of recent release TV series and movies, some available as soon as aired in the US.
Cost: Starts at $19.99/mth
Foxtel Presto offers a large range of on-demand cinema for a pretty reasonable price. Everything from recent releases to cult and classic cinema is here; basically, Foxtel’s entire movie library.
Recent release movies do come at an additional pay-per-view cost, so be prepared to spend extra if you want to chat about the latest movies at work on a Monday.
Watch Foxtel Presto for: New releases and the company’s huge back catalogue of cinema.
Chromecast & Google Play
Cost: $49 for Chromecast, plus rental/purchases
Plugging directly into your HD TV, this media streaming dongle connects to your WiFi network and allows you to stream any media from a PC or mobile device. Think of Chromecast as a component of your media streaming equipment, not so much the actual source.
So what’s the source? Google Play. When paired with the online media service, this set up functions in a similar manner to Apple TV. Browse the extensive Play library, make your selection and send it to your Chromecast. Pretty simple.
Google Play features a huge range of top movies and TV, as well as music and books, which can all be viewed via PC, laptop or your mobile device of choice.
One great bonus is services like Quickflix and Ezyflix also support streaming via Chromecast, so you needn’t be tied to Google Play, nor any one device, to view your TV and movies.
Watch Chromecast for: Media streaming from a flexible range of sources, both free and paid.
iView & SBS On Demand
Piped directly from the networks, the ABC’s iView service and SBS’s On Demand offer a range of recently screened TV and movies, which can be watched from any supported device. You’ll also find occasional online-only content, like the recent ABC Fresh Blood series of new TV.
The attraction of these free services is also in the viewing mediums available. Both services can be viewed via Smart TV or Blu-ray player apps, Android and iOS powered devices (iPad, iPhone, Galaxy S4, Galaxy Tab 3 et al), gaming consoles (Xbox and PlayStation) and some media players.
Just note that all media is only available for a short time after initially aired on the network.
Watch iView For: ABC and BBC drama and comedy, documentaries and current affairs.
Watch SBS On Demand For: World cinema and Arthouse films, local and international drama and comedy, and foreign language news and entertainment.
Netflix via VPN
Cost: US$7.99/mth (SD basic plan) + VPN cost
If you love TV and movies, you’ve likely heard all about Netflix; the US giant that dominates the media streaming world in the northern hemisphere.
With a library of 1000s of TV series and movies, available in Standard Definition as well as HD, Netflix is the epitome of a one-stop entertainment shop. Except for Australians.
Due to distribution agreements, the service is technically not available in Australia (geo-blocked); but we’ve never let technicalities get in the way of a good time, have we.
Using a VPN proxy service, like UnBlock.Us or Hola, will make Netflix think you’re accessing the service from inside the US, allowing you to subscribe and begin streaming content immediately.
Although a legal grey area, accessing this geo-blocked media streaming service is actually endorsed by consumer body CHOICE.
Watch Netflix For: A huge range of TV from the likes of HBO, Disney-ABC, Warner Bros, CBS et al, plus Netflix original series, like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. Hundreds of recent release movies, from major studios around the world, are also available.
Check with your ISP to ensure you’re on the best plan to fully enjoy streaming media, before purchasing internet media streaming equipment or a service subscription.