Foxtel and Netflix are the two biggest players in Australia’s entertainment subscription market. The battle isn’t just one of competing services, but one of old versus new, and of traditional TV viewing versus video streaming on demand. So which offers the best bang for your entertainment buck?
The arrival of Netflix in Australia was a game-changing moment in the way we watch and pay for TV content. The US streaming giant quickly generated an army of loyal followers, but Foxtel has also reported an increase in new subscribers following a dramatic change to its business model, allowing customers to sign up on contract terms. The launch of Presto and Stan has also presented Aussies with a wealth of streaming options, but for now at least, Netflix is very much the standard-bearer for on-demand TV services.
So with video streaming having finally arrived in Australia, and Foxtel fighting hard to maintain its previously unchallenged superiority, we thought we’d offer a comparison between the two different methods of delivering entertainment, represented by Foxtel and Netflix. It’s time to find out: what are the major differences between the old guard and the new kids on the block? Who offers the best content and the best value for money?
Pros and Cons
Before we got into detail on the two services, here’s a quick breakdown of the pros and cons of both. If you’re only looking for the broader points, the table below has everything you need to know.
Who offers the better value?
Netflix Australia is available from $8.99 per month, including a trial first month in which you can cancel your subscription at any time. In return, you get access to a huge catalogue of TV shows, several of which are Netflix exclusives such as House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. The price of $8.99 gets you one stream, but two are available for $11.99, or you can get access to as many as four devices for $14.99 per month.
Netflix’s TV content is stronger than its movie range however, due to many relatively new movies not being available as a result of licensing costs – there’s a reason it’s so affordable.
Foxtel, by contrast, costs a minimum of $25 per month in addition to a $150 installation fee – for that, you get 43 entertainment channels such as MTV, the Discovery Channel and more. You also get the Foxtel iQ box which allows you to record, pause and rewind TV, as well as the ability to watch shows on Foxtel Go using your laptop or mobile device.
Foxtel has exclusive rights to some TV shows – most notably Game of Thrones – and offers a number of other packages which add on channel packs such as Sports, Drama and Movies, in combinations to suit your preferences. All seven channel packs will cost you $120 per month.
The verdict on value
Compared to Netflix Australia, Foxtel provides far more content, with channels broadcasting 24/7 just like any other TV channel. Having the ability to record your favorite shows is a huge bonus for Foxtel customers as it adds the ‘on demand’ element that makes Netflix so popular. Overall, both seem to offer good value for money, considering what’s on offer. The added bonus of getting Foxtel with no lock-in contract strengthens its value proposition even further, while it’s hard to argue that Netflix for just $8.99 isn’t a good deal.
Who has the best content?
The main difference between the two services is that Netflix places a big emphasis on TV shows, while Foxtel is more focused on providing the latest movies on demand and exclusive live sports.
Foxtel’s multiple movie channels show the latest releases as soon as they’re available, and the Foxtel Store allows you to rent movies on demand rather than wait for them to be shown on TV. Foxtel also has exclusive rights to top sports such as Super Rugby, European football, American football and basketball, and Australia’s international fixtures for rugby, cricket, football and many other sports. And while it doesn’t boast the same range of quality TV shows as Netflix, channels like HBO and Showcase are home to popular American shows such as Boardwalk Empire, Dexter and True Blood.
Netflix, on the other hand, has a large back catalogue of classic, cult and indie movies, but struggles when it comes to new blockbusters. Its strength lies in the depth and breadth of its TV shows, which include Suits, The Blacklist and Narcos. However, it’s important to note that Netflix Australia’s offerings aren’t identical to the range offered to US customers. Some well-known shows such as Grey’s Anatomy aren’t available in Australia. Check out our complete list of TV shows and movies on Netflix for more information.
The verdict on content
For fans of sports and new movie releases, Foxtel is a must. However, Netflix’s biggest draw is its original and exclusive TV shows. It’s hard to see past the depth of Foxtel’s content, but really it depends on what sort of content you’re looking for.
Availability in Australia was once the big difference between the two services – but no longer! Until Netflix officially launched down under, the 200,000+ Aussies who subscribed to it did so using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). A VPN effectively hides your IP address, allowing it to appear as if it’s from the US, meaning you can sign up. Whilst this process isn’t illegal, it’s certainly something that local providers like Foxtel have tried to discourage. At the end of the day though, you’re still paying for your entertainment, which is a lot better than illegally pirating shows from shifty download sites.
Now, however, both Netflix and Foxtel can be subscribed to online within a matter of minutes. In Foxtel’s case, it usually takes a few days for the set-top box to be delivered and installed in your home, but once it’s in you’re ready to go. In this respect, Netflix does have the edge on its traditional rival – you can start watching it right after you subscribe, and with the company offering a one-month free trial, you can always change your mind.
The overall verdict
All in all, deciding between Foxtel and Netflix is like deciding between apples and oranges – they both keep you entertained but in their own special way. So have a think about what you want most from your entertainment service, and be happy that Australia finally has some proper competition with regards to our online media. If you place a higher value on live sports and blockbuster movies, then Foxtel might be for you, if you can afford it. On the other hand, if you’re more interested in TV shows for a cheap price, then you might want to consider Netflix.