Entertainment TV How to pick the perfect streaming service for your tastes and budget

How to pick the perfect streaming service for your tastes and budget

Baby Yoda
Baby Yoda is the breakout star of screen and merchandise in Disney Plus' The Mandalorian. Photo: Disney Plus
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Once upon a time, the big question was whether you were going to fork out for a Netflix subscription. But with the introduction of numerous streaming services (including two newbies, Disney Plus and Apple TV+ at the end of 2019), we now have a mind-boggling array to choose from.

So let’s take a look at some of the highlights of each service to help you navigate your way across the, ah, stream, shall we?

TV series, if you want to lose weeks bingeing 

Foxtel Now has the HBO back-catalogue, so you can immerse yourself in quality TV shows and become that person who tells everyone The Wire is the best series ever made.

Highlights include Succession, Game of Thrones, Watchmen, Chernobyl, Big Little Lies, Barry, Veep, Broad City, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Americans, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire and Girls.

Foxtel Now has a number of different packages, so you can tailor the cost to suit.

Be warned if you’re not an existing Foxtel subscriber with a multi-room subscription – you won’t be able to Airplay or Chromecast it to your telly, and it will take ages to figure out you need to pay an extra $99 for the Foxtel Now box. Then you’ll nearly throw your iPad across the room (speaking from experience).

If you have little children

It’s hard to go past Disney Plus. As the name suggests, it’s thick with the Disney and Pixar back-catalogue. There’s a bit for big kids too though – they have all the Marvel, National Geographic and Star Wars content (which means you can watch The Mandalorian and find out what all this Baby Yoda fuss is about). It’s $8.99 a month.

If you want to support Australian

Subscribe to Stan. It’s throwing funds into original Australian content such as No Activity, The Other Guy, The Gloaming, The Commons, Wolf Creek and Romper Stomper. There are also classic Aussie films to be found.

But it’s not just home-grown content. The huge international catalogue includes Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Parks and Recreation and Golden Globe favourite Ramy are all found here. It’ll set you back $10 a month.

If you like strong female-centric stories

In this case, Amazon Prime is worth a look. They’ve commissioned two particularly amazing female lead TV shows, Fleabag and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel. The downside is the movie selection is not so hot.
Working in Prime’s favour is it’s cheap at $6.99 a month (and that also gives you access to Amazon’s premium online shopping services).

If you don’t want to be crippled by too much choice

Do you spend hours clicking away and still turn up empty handed? Then Apple TV+ might be for you … because there is so little on it, it’ll take you two minutes to scope what is solely original Apple content. And unless there’s a tab we haven’t discovered, that amounts to just nine shows (eight TV series and one movie). And it costs $7.99 a month.

Our suggestion: Use the 7-day free trial to watch the rather good Morning Wars and then tap out until more content is added.

If you’re a family with both teens and small kids 

The best all-rounder award goes to Netflix. With the biggest catalogue of the lot, it’s reasonable value ($9.99 a month, single stream in standard definition) and has a good mix of TV series, movies, documentaries, mini-series, kids’ stuff and stand-up comedy specials.

If you’re trying to save cash

Don’t forget there are streaming services that don’t require a paid subscription. SBS On Demand and ABC iView have plenty of excellent content. Current gems on these platforms include:

SBS On Demand: TV series such as The Handmaid’s Tale, Shrill, Blue Murder, Narcos, Broadchurch, the Kirsten Dunst series On Becoming a God in Central Florida (for which she was just nominated for a Golden Globe) and Aussie drama The Hunting with Richard Roxburgh and Asher Keddie.

You’ll also find some great movies including In the Loop, Lion, Candy, A Single Man, 12 Years a Slave, Boy, Brooklyn, Let the Right One In, Leon, and The Wackness.

ABC iView: Doesn’t have as many movies as SBS on Demand, but there are some great TV series, like Doctor Who, Patrick Melrose, The Cry, Rake, Rosehaven, State of the Union, Get Krack!n, Archer, Gavin and Stacey, and Killing Eve.

There are also some top things for kids, such as Bluey, Paddington 2 and Early Man. The piece de resistance is some solid Aussie documentary series including Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, Love on the Spectrum and Grand Designs.

The general consensus? Dip in to the others (using free trials) to binge their top offerings, but make Stan and/or Netflix your staples with the freebies up your sleeve for when you need more variety.

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