Streaming services in Australia: Ranking the best

You know Netflix, but have you heard of the horrors on Shudder? Or the educational fare on DocPlay? Here’s every streaming service in Australia, ranked.
  • Best overall

    Prime Video

    Read review
    5 out of 5 overall
    Massive movie library with lots of recent and popular releases
    Great price
  • Best special interest

    Disney Plus

    Read review
    4 out of 5 overall
    High number of Box Office blockbusters
    No free trial and inconsistent originals
  • Runner-up (overall)

    Netflix

    Read review
    4.5 out of 5 overall
    Regular (and popular) originals
    No free trial and its cutthroat cancellations
  • Runner-up (niche)

    Shudder

    Read review
    3.75 out of 5 overall
    No-brainer for horror fans
    Thrilling originals from around the world
  • Worst streaming service

    10 All Access

    Find out why
    2 out of 5 overall
    Not much on offer unless you love NCIS
    CBS All Access Originals are on Prime Video

Ever since Netflix officially launched in Australia, national (and international) broadcasters have been fighting tooth and nail for a small slice of your evening. Stan was the first local success story but was closely followed by a few unmitigated failures (RIP Presto) while digital catch-up services like ABC iview and SBS On Demand managed to survive the streaming takeover.

Years after the Netflix Australia launch, local services have more competition than ever, and the quantity and quality of streaming services grow by the day. With so many available, the market is getting muddy, making it difficult for the average punter to decide on which service is right for them.

I’ve spent a lot of time (possibly too much) analysing and trialling each streaming service to find out which ones are worth your money.

Ten free trials and one 60-row spreadsheet later, and I think I’ve got some answers.

The fact is, every streaming service has something unique to offer. Well, all except 10 All Access (what do you do, 10 All Access?). But out of all the streaming services I’ve reviewed, a few stand out amongst the rest.

Most notably, Amazon Prime Video is leading the pack by a wide margin.

How we score streaming services

Before we dig into the results, let me explain how each service was scored. I rated each provider in five key areas: Price, Features, Availability, Content and Satisfaction. Across those five categories, there were 42 points of comparison where each service could win or lose a few points. I won’t bore you with the full list here, but here’s a quick rundown of what was considered:

  • Price: Plan pricing, discounts and free trial length
  • Features: Ads, 4K/HDR, subtitles, accessibility features, offline viewing
  • Devices: Simultaneous streams, number of compatible devices available
  • Content: Number of originals produced, overall TV/movie library size, number of popular TV shows/movies (top 50), and a Box Office score (number of top 10 domestic performers)
  • Satisfaction: Aggregated score of App Store, Google Play reviews and our own editors’ hands-on experience

Why did we go to all this effort? Good question. I guess it just bums me out when people continue to pay a premium for a service like Foxtel because it’s all they know. I kind of hoped a comprehensive, data-driven guide would encourage a few people to try something new while saving heaps off their bill every month.

So without further hesitation, here are the best streaming services in Australia, ranked.

The best streaming services in Australia

While there are a handful of truly great free catch-up streaming services, like SBS On Demand, big streaming libraries with the latest TV shows, movies and exclusives are going to cost you. These are the best paid streaming services based on their pricing and the quality of their original content.

1. Streaming service: Amazon Prime Video

Prime Video - Streaming Services

Prime Video Logo
Overall Rating 5 out of 5

Prime Video is the best streaming service in Australia by far.

When Amazon Prime Video first launched in Australia, its library was paper-thin, housing a few tempting originals, and not much else. Over the last few years, Prime Video has flipped the script here in Australia, offering some of the latest and greatest mainstream films and TV shows, as well as some of the best original TV shows available and all for the consistent single-plan price of $6.99 per month. It’s hard to argue with that. It seems most Australians are coming around to it too, as we saw Prime Video’s popularity surge throughout 2020.

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The need-to-know of Prime Video

  • Free trial: 30-days
  • Price: $6.99 per month
  • 4K: Select titles
  • HDR: Select titles
  • Movies: Over 12,000
  • TV shows: Over 1,600

What I like about Prime Video

Prime Video only sells one plan at $6.99 per month. For that price, you get 4K streaming, two simultaneous streams, complete access to the TV and movie catalogue, not to mention all the shopping discounts and perks that come with being an Amazon Prime subscriber.

Amazon Prime Video’s original TV shows are some of the best in the biz. Look no further than the award-winning comedy The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, or the bloody superhero satire of The Boys. Prime Video’s successful revival of sci-fi epic The Expanse has also attracted a lot of viewers of the past few years.

Then there’s Prime Video’s massive selection of movies (the biggest available in Australia). A glance at the library shows that Prime Video has a few of the best movies released over the last year, movies like the time-twisty comedy Palm Springs, the horror hit The Invisible Man, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Joker, Midsommar and more. Then there are the classics, Heat, Jurassic Park, The Godfather, Top Gun, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and plenty more can all be streamed on Prime Video. Sure, its library of 12,000+ movies isn’t all gold, but sift through the sludge and you’ll find some of the best of the best (and best of the worst) streaming.

Perhaps the biggest surprise from this analysis was just how far Prime Video has come. We always think of Netflix as the champion of original content, but at the time of writing, Prime Video is nipping at its heels, only a few original productions off matching Netflix’s output.

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Standout feature: IMDB X-Ray

One thing that Prime Video has that no other streaming service does is X-Ray. In addition to bonus features (behind the scenes etc.), it also lists every actor on the screen whenever you pause the TV show or movie using IMDB’s database. From there, you can click through to find out more, scratching that very particular itch when you know you’ve seen them in something else. It’s a great feature that will stop the most curious of us from constantly reaching for our phone mid-movie, but it does have the potential for mild spoilers too; such as revealing a surprise/twist character appearance before they’ve appeared on the screen.

What Prime Video could do better

There’s not a whole lot I’d change about Prime Video. Netflix is still the industry leader when it comes to user-experience and while Prime Video’s interface has improved over the years, I’d still like to see them keep iterating.

Netflix is just a lot easier to navigate than Prime Video, and considering the amount of trash on Prime Video, better navigation would always be welcome. If anything, signing into Prime Video is more painful than most services. While it’s in the interest of security, the Recaptcha verification checkpoint on browsers is a real pain when you’re trying to guess your password (I’ve got a lot of streaming subscriptions).

2. Streamging service: Netflix

Netflix Australia - Streaming Services

Netflix Logo
Overall Rating 4.5 out of 5

Great originals and UI, just don’t get too attached.

You know it, you love it, you’ve probably already got a subscription. In terms of technology and user experience, there’s no true rival to the original streaming giant Netflix. It’s taken a few hits over recent years, as broadcasters like NBC take back some of the service’s most popular shows (see The Office in the U.S.) for their own streaming services but Netflix’s insurmountable dedication to original content has kept it buoyed above the rest.

Sure, the data-driven approach to creating addictive content is a little bleak but there’s no denying the quality (and more importantly, popularity) of Netflix Originals like Stranger Things, The Crown, and most recently, Bridgerton.

What I like about Netflix

Netflix set the stage for streaming across the world and in many ways, no other service has quite managed to catch up. The years invested in the Netflix app, and advancements in streaming technology have paid off in the streaming goliath’s favour. You just won’t find another app (here in Australia, at least) that’s as user-friendly as Netflix.

Then there are the originals. Where to begin? House of Cards made history as the first-ever ‘web series’ to receive an Emmy nomination. The revered political thriller was followed up by Netflix’s next big hit, Stranger Things, a toy box full of 80s nostalgia and horror tropes. There are also mountains of under-appreciated originals that flew under the radar, The Midnight Gospel (from the creator of Adventure Time) and Maniac (from Cary Joji Fukunaga) are two personal favourites.

What Netflix could do better

If anything, the biggest downside to Netflix’s popular originals is its cutthroat reputation for cancelling cult-favourites like Tuca and Bertie, The OA, and Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

Some of the service’s best TV shows have been unceremoniously kicked to the curb, TV shows like Ozark and Santa Clarita Diet. From an outsider’s perspective, these shows all seemed to be incredibly popular to me which begs the question: what is Netflix’s benchmark for success? And, dear God, don’t let it be Emily in Paris.

Also, if Netflix could pump the brakes on rising plan prices for a while, that’d be great. Netflix’s price was once a huge selling point but the cost of plans in Australia has continued to rise over the past few years while most of the competition has remained firm in its pricing.

Lastly, we had to ding Netflix a few points for removing its free trial. I didn’t create five different burner emails for nothing.

3. Streaming service: Stan

Stan - Streaming Service

Stan - Logo
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5

Good local productions and a healthy library of TV shows and movies.

Stan full-stop. The Nine-owned streaming service had an incredibly strong start when it first beat Netflix to the punch in Australia. Mostly because it didn’t come empty-handed. Riding off the coattails of one the biggest TV shows of all time (Breaking Bad), Stan entered the fray with a killer exclusive: Better Call Saul. You couldn’t go ten metres in the city without seeing Bob Odenkirk’s loveable face on a billboard.

When it first launched, a few good exclusives wouldn’t make up for Stan’s awful user-interface but like Prime Video, Stan has come a long way in the years between, eventually becoming an integral part of the Australian streaming landscape.

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The need-to-know of Stan

  • Free trial: 30 days
  • Price: $10 – $18 per month
  • 4K: Select titles
  • HDR: Select titles
  • Movies: Over 2,000
  • TV shows: Over 500

What I like about Stan

Mostly its investment in local productions. There’s not heaps of it, and the quality isn’t always consistent, but the company deserves props for putting money behind local talent.

Stakeout comedy No Activity was an early success (and has since been exported to the U.S.), and The Other Guy was a decent comedy follow-up. Horror fans got a kick out of the Wolf Creek TV series (but horror fans will watch anything), and more recently, Stan threw its weight behind one of the best horror movies of 2020, Natalie Erika James’ Relic.

While there have been long stretches where I haven’t gotten much use out of my Stan subscription, I’ve always kept it running. Because when I finally get around to watching a TV show everyone stopped talking about 10 years ago (like Deadwood), I often have a fair bit of luck finding it on Stan. Same goes for movies too.

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Standout feature: Stan Sport will deliver Rugby on-demand

It’s not technically a standout feature yet, but Stan is getting into the sports streaming game this year with a $10 add-on that offers access to Rugby and Tennis live streams. If they manage to nail it, Stan’s years of experience should lend itself well to a sports streaming solution. It’s a relatively new and exciting market to be a part of, with only a few real competitors (Kayo Sport and Optus Sport). We don’t know if the experience will be any good, but at the very least, the add-on will go a long way in differentiating Stan from the stiff international competition it faces in the streaming space.

What Stan could do better

There are a few things Stan could be better at. Firstly, I’d like to see Stan take some much bigger swings with its original content. This isn’t a dig at the existing line-up (well, maybe a little bit) but everything Stan has made so far has been mostly mainstream.

What Stan hasn’t cottoned on to yet is that Netflix doesn’t succeed because of the sheer number of originals it produces. It’s about the left-field choices Netflix makes and the freedom it gives its creators. Take Duncan Trussel’s The Midnight Gospel — an animated series that uses recordings of a real-life podcast for its dialogue to tell a story about a fictional podcast taking place in a fantasy world and it all seems silly at first but you end up crying yourself to sleep after the credits roll. You know the type. That’s the sort of thing you won’t find in Stan’s line-up of originals.

4. Streaming service: Binge

Binge - Streaming Services Australia

Binge Logo
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5

Premium television and blockbuster movies at a decent price.

On our scoreboard, Binge and its predecessor Foxtel Now came to a tie so it’s dealer’s choice and this dealer recommends Binge over Foxtel Now. Price is the number one metric we rated providers on and Binge is simply a more affordable streaming solution than Foxtel Now. But that’s not all, in its short time on the market, it has proven to be a better overall user experience and, importantly, far more reliable (though to be fair, it hasn’t had a seismic Game of Thrones finale to contend with).

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The need-to-know of Binge

  • Free trial: 2 weeks
  • Price: $10 – $18 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: Over 1,000
  • TV shows: Over 700

What I like about Binge

The price. The adoption rate of services like Prime Video, Netflix and Stan prove that Australians want to pay for their entertainment but if you a) lock content behind an unjustified premium, and/or b) make it too difficult to access, pirates are gonna pirate. That’s what happened when Foxtel locked the record-shattering Game of Thrones behind a $25 premium and an app that dropped the ball on game night.

With Binge, Foxtel finally has the opportunity to right the ship and enter a serious contender in the ongoing streaming race. Binge hit the ground running (okay, more of a brisk walk) when it launched in 2020 and I’d happily pay $10 a month for access to that primo HBO, but it’s a service that’s currently hamstrung by the powers that be.

The developers at Streamotion (the same team that built Kayo) deserve a pat on the back for spinning up an app that is relatively pleasant to use. Right now, it’s the cheapest and friendliest way to stream some of HBO, FX and AMC’s latest, like Devs and Succession, or digging into the back catalogue of classics such as The Sopranos, The Leftovers, and The Walking Dead.

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Standout feature: Surprise me!

Binge launched with a feature that Netflix users have been requesting for years: a random title selection. Netflix has since added that feature, but Binge’s Surprise Me button beat it to the punch. It’s not a ground-breaking feature, but it’s a nice addition. The main issue with it comes from a misunderstanding of what people want from a random button. Nobody sits down for the evening thinking they want to spice things up with a surprise episode of American Restoration. What people have been asking for is the option to randomly play an episode of an old favourite they already know back-to-front, like a surprise episode of The Simpsons, Friends or Seinfeld to fall asleep to.

What Binge could do better

A lot. I want to love Binge more than I do but it’s impossible to feel like its various omissions aren’t intentional. In almost every way that Binge succeeds, there’s a flip side of the coin where it suffers.

Take the competitive pricing, for example. Finally, a way to watch some of the most popular television going for $10 per month. Fantastic. The problem is, not every TV show and movie comes to Binge at the same time as Foxtel, or at least not on the same day. Sometimes shows are a few episodes behind, sometimes they’re not available at all.

Look at the biggest domestic Box Office performers of 2020: Bad Boys for Life, 1917, Sonic the Hedgehog, and Jumanji: The Next Level. All four are available to stream on Foxtel Now, but not Binge. Binge isn’t completely without recent blockbusters, Birds of Prey, The Invisible Man and Dolittle are there but that’s three of the biggest blockbusters of the last three years, compared to Foxtel Now’s twelve. Overall, Binge’s catalogue only holds roughly 60% of what Foxtel offers.

Secondly, Binge doesn’t support 4K streaming or offline viewing, two staple features of a modern streaming service. There’s just no reason it should be this way other than to force people to use Foxtel as a “premium” service when it’s anything but.

5. Streaming service: Foxtel Now

Foxtel Now - Streaming Services Australia

Foxtel Now Logo
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5

Premium television and blockbuster movies in an expensive and unreliable package.

Wow. Surprised to see Foxtel Now in here after that whole song and dance? The truth is, despite its many failings, Foxtel Now is still Australia’s premium streaming destination for TV shows and movies. Despite the mass exodus from the service post-Game of Thrones, Foxtel hasn’t thrown in the towel for Now.

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The need-to-know of Foxtel Now

  • Free trial: 10 days
  • Price: $25 – $104 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: Over 1,600
  • TV shows: Over 1,400

What we like about Foxtel Now

It mostly comes down to the content, rather than the service it’s on. Out of every streaming service we ranked, Foxtel Now had the most popular TV shows and movies, and the highest number of box office blockbusters after Disney Plus. Despite scoring incredibly low for price (which our ratings are weighted towards) and moderately low for features, Foxtel Now still managed a score equal to Binge.

Part of that comes with the sheer number of ways there is to watch Foxtel Now.

It’s got a few years under its belt, and slowly over time, has mustered support for just about every device under your roof (except for Xbox, strangely enough). There’s not much point to a streaming service if you don’t have a device that supports it, so for that, Foxtel Now earns a few points.

What I don’t like about Foxtel Now

On paper, you might think Foxtel Now is worth the small fortune it charges.

It has a massive library of TV shows and movies, and more importantly, the TV shows and movies that most people want to watch. It’s also got the news, sports and traditional pay-TV channels if you’re willing to pay the price. But everything positive we’ve got to say about the service is a prop to the content itself.

The only reason Foxtel can lay claim to the goodwill mustered by studios like HBO, FX and AMC are because it has enough money to place a monopoly on that content. If there was any other way, and I mean any other way, for me to watch what Foxtel holds the keys to, I would.

Foxtel Now’s user experience and overall performance is god awful. Not only did it completely collapse when it mattered most across eight seasons of Game of Thrones, but even when it did work, the video would buffer constantly to the point where I’d just give up watching it on Foxtel Now altogether.

Lastly, Foxtel insists on capping its various streaming services at 1080p for on-demand titles and 720p for linear TV. That’s not a huge issue, 1080p HD is just fine, but with the competition leaning hard into 4K/HDR, you’d think that Foxtel would step up to the plate. Might it have something to do with the fact Foxtel charges a premium for its 4K iQ4 box and access to 4K channels ($99 per month minimum)? Who’s to say?

6. Streaming service: 10 All Access

10 All Access - Streaming Services Australia

10 All Access Logo
Overall Rating 2 out of 5

Who is 10 All Access for exactly?

If Foxtel Now is one of the Biggest Losers in the great streaming race, then 10 All Access didn’t even make it off the starting line. I don’t even know where to start with this one. When the service first launched in Australia, it was an exciting time for CBS — the company that bought Network 10 and is no doubt experiencing some serious buyer’s remorse. It was launching its streaming service, CBS All Access, producing original content for one of history’s biggest sci-fi franchises, Star Trek, and reviving The Twilight Zone with horror’s recently nominated champion, Jordan Peele.

Here in Australia, Star Trek: Discovery launched before 10 All Access did, so those streaming rights went to Netflix. Fair enough. Then The Twilight Zone reboot’s release came and went without a whisper from 10 All Access. It eventually arrived two months later but by then, a lot of Australian fans had probably dropped anchor in Pirate Bay.

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The need-to-know of 10 All Access

  • Free trial: 1 month
  • Price: $9.99 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: None
  • TV shows: Roughly 140

What you might like about 10 All Access

Now a full two years after 10 All Access launched, CBS All Access has continued to make good on its Star Trek productions with Picard, and the animated Star Trek: Lower Decks, as well as adapting Stephen King’s incredibly popular post-apocalypse novel, The Stand. All of which are available to stream here in Australia on… PRIME VIDEO?

Just let me… there’s got to be something around here worth — AHA! Blue Bloods? No?

How about old episodes Sabrina the Teenage Witch? No, not the Netflix one, sorry. Ok. Surely, surely, someone out there wants to watch old seasons of Survivor and/or The Bachelor.

Wait… you do? Thank god. You, the person who wants to watch old seasons of Survivor and/or The Bachelor, 10 All Access might be for you. Maybe.

What we don’t like about 10 All Access

Take it away, Mariska Hargitay…

SVU - It's not worth it

The best niche and special interest streaming

The streaming services we’ve compared so far offer sprawling libraries of first and third-party TV shows, movies, and in most cases, original content too. The sheer size of their libraries makes them tough to compare against more niche streaming platforms. Take Shudder, for example. All up, it only offers 173 movies and 14 TV shows in Australia, but it’s a unique service dedicated to the horror genre. Amongst its rather small collection, you’ll find some terrific, terrifying, and, occasionally, terrible original movies and TV series. If you’re a horror fan, it’s a no-brainer.

There’s no real way to compare that kind of niche appeal to a streaming megalith like Netflix. So we didn’t. We scored Australia’s various special interest streaming services under the same criteria as the services above, just with less of an emphasis on library size.

1. Streaming service: Disney Plus

Disney Plus - Streaming Services Australia

Disney Plus Streaming Logo
Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Originals for all with more to come.

For this round-up, we’ve put Disney Plus up against the special interest streaming services though that’s not entirely fair to the competition on this list. Disney’s monopoly on some of the biggest media franchises of all time means it scored the highest in our Box Office analysis.

However, Disney Plus only offers properties owned by Disney. Without third-party TV shows and movies, it’s hard to compare it against streaming stalwarts like Netflix. We expect that to change when Disney Plus adds more mature content via its upcoming Star add-on, but for the moment, Disney Plus doesn’t have a lot outside of its originals and library of classic kids’ TV shows and movies.

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The need-to-know of Disney Plus

  • Free trial: None
  • Price: $8.99 per month
  • 4K: Yes
  • HDR: Yes
  • Movies: Over 900
  • TV shows: Over 250

What I like about Disney Plus

The Originals. Like it or not, Disney holds the keys to some of history’s biggest franchises. Disney’s fat stacks of cash pave the way for some big-budget original productions. The Mandalorian wasn’t for everyone, but as a big fan of Dave Filoni’s world-building in Clone Wars (and a secret prequel apologist), I found the second season of The Mandalorian to be a thrilling serving of unbridled fan service. For a while, The Mandalorian was about all there was to watch unless you wanted the Disney classics on hand.

But there are a few more reasons to subscribe at this stage. Firstly, Earth to Ned is a hilarious, family-friendly talk show in the vein of Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, and Disney’s first Marvel production for the service, WandaVision is off to a cracking start. It’s a clever, funny tribute to America’s rich history of wholesome sitcoms with just enough mystery peppered throughout each episode.

Like it or not, Disney Plus is also home to the highest number of domestic Box Office leaders over the past three years. That’s significant because there’s no denying that Disney Plus exclusively streams the kind of movies that most people want to watch. The fact that every movie and TV show in its library is available to stream in 4K, and available for offline viewing, is also a huge benefit for those who’ve invested in a 4K television.

What could be better about Disney Plus

Also the Originals. The Mandalorian is good popcorn TV, but it doesn’t take any big risks. WandaVision is, at the very least, a more unconventional entry to the universe of samey superhero flicks, but it’s repeating a few of the sins committed by The Mandalorian by only offering morsels of the season’s overarching mystery every episode. We only get one episode per week, and for such a small serving, there’s just not enough meat on the bone yet.

Lastly, the cadence of Disney Plus original releases isn’t up to speed with services like Netflix. It’s understandable, these are big-budget productions with a lot riding on them and many productions have been halted or delayed due to the pandemic. But Disney is serving two core fandoms here: Marvel and Star Wars, and while there’s some crossover, it’s a long wait between reasons to stay subscribed.

2. Streaming service: Shudder

Shudder - Streaming Services

Shudder
Overall Rating 3.75 out of 5

Cheap thrills are frightful and delightful.

Shudder is a relative newcomer on this list, and while its spooky selection of curated flicks won’t be for everyone, it’s a nightmare come true for horror fans in Australia. It’s a service that streams horror movies and TV shows exclusively, so if that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, keep scrolling.

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The need-to-know of Shudder

  • Free trial: 7 days
  • Price: $6.99 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: Over 170
  • TV shows: Over 10

What I like about Shudder

Few streaming services have given me a reason to keep coming back over the last year, but Shudder’s dedication to the weird and wonderful had me hooked. Recent additions like Nic Cage’s bonkers Colour Out of Space, classic collections like Hellraiser, and deep-cuts like Maniac Cop are reason enough to give it a crack but the true value is in its surprisingly great originals.

Host was the latest when the service first launched. It’s a quarantine horror told through a Zoom meeting that has no right being as good as it is. Then there was Scare Me, a fun horror-comedy starring Aya Cash (The Boys) where two horror authors trade tales in a remote cabin. As a niche horror streaming service, Shudder deserves props for the consistent release slate of originals, but more importantly, the lashings of international films produced. Mexico’s La Llorona is an interesting waltz through well-trodden ground, and Monstrum is a South Korean creature feature that blends period drama with monster-horror.

What Shudder could do better

The TV show selection. There are only one or two worthwhile TV shows on the service. Cursed Films, for example, is a series that delves into history’s most infamous film productions (e.g. The Exorcist) presenting both believers and sceptics without taking itself too seriously. Outside of that, it’s clear that Shudder has stacked all its chips on original films, which is understandable given television rarely lends itself well to the genre.

Shudder also won’t be your first choice if overall library size is an important factor for you. There’s roughly 170 movies on the service in Australia (just over 300 in the U.S.) so there’s not a lot to dig through once you’ve chewed through the originals. Thankfully, the originals are releasing thick and fast.

3. Streaming service: Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll - Streaming Services Australia

Crunchyroll logo
Overall Rating 3.75 out of 5

The latest anime TV releases straight from Japan.

Crunchyroll has been on the Australian streaming market for longer than most of the special interest services on this list. That’s because there was a noticeable gap in the Australian market for anime fans for the longest time. Anime might seem like a fringe fandom to those not invested in it but while it’s pretty far out of the mainstream, its following is one of the most fervent fandoms out there.

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The need-to-know of Crunchyroll

  • Free trial: 14 days
  • Price: $7.99 – $9.99 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: None
  • TV shows: Over 740

What I like about Crunchyroll

It doesn’t have a lot of original content, but there are tonnes of shows, old and new, that you won’t find anywhere else. My Hero Academia is one of the best (and most popular) anime series of recent memory, and you’ll only find it on Crunchyroll. The same could be said for Attack on Titan. Then there are the classics that Australians might remember from CheezTV, Dragon Ball, Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh are available on Crunchyroll in some capacity.

New episodes are fast-tracked from Japan straight to the service, so it’s your best bet for staying on top of recent releases locally.

What could be better about Crunchyroll

The classics listed above are all represented in Crunchyroll’s library in some capacity, but considering the breadth of each series, it can be hard to track down exactly what you want to watch. For example, there is only one season of Dragon Ball Super available (there have been five released in total), and no Dragon Ball Z seasons to be found at all.

I’ve found Crunchyroll is a few seasons behind more often than I’d like. It might make sense in a situation where an anime hadn’t received an English dub yet, but what fans love about the service is that there are options for original Japanese dubs too, so that’s not really an excuse. Especially considering it’s whole pitch is that it gets the latest episodes fast-tracked.

In the past, I’ve also found the available dubs to be inconsistent with what’s actually available, complicating things a little further.

Lastly, this is a television-only service, which is a shame because there are some brilliant anime movies out there that don’t currently have a streaming service to call home in Australia.

4. Streaming service: Apple TV Plus

apple tv+ logo
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5

A small library with a few standout originals.

When Apple TV Plus was first announced, we had zero confidence in its plan for watered-down original drama. At launch, there simply wasn’t much to watch, and what was there (e.g. For All Mankind and See) was almost universally panned.

Apple TV Plus has grown since then, and subscribers are finally enjoying the fruits of their free trials with some top-shelf television.

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The need-to-know of Apple TV Plus

  • Free trial: 7 days
  • Price: $7.99 per month
  • 4K: Yes
  • HDR: Yes
  • Movies: Over 15 movies
  • TV shows: Over 35 TV shows

What I like about Apple TV Plus

Despite the banal philosophy on originals at launch, Apple TV Plus has managed to deliver some incredibly fresh originals. I was worried what Apple’s button-up sensibilities might mean for It’s Always Sunny’s Rob McElhenney Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet turned out to be a treat. It’s a similar story for Ted Lasso. A warm-and-fuzzy comedy about a fish-out-of-water football coach starring Jason Sudeikis didn’t sound appealing in the slightest but the result managed to rope me in from the first episode. Hopefully, the success of these two shows leads to more mature comedy on the service.

Lastly, there’s almost no avoiding Apple TV Plus if you’re already an Apple user. As with its music streaming equivalent, Apple has been shelling out huge three to twelve-month free trials for iPhone and iPad users. I can also appreciate Apple’s push onto more widely available devices, like the Xbox Series S and Series X consoles.

What Apple TV Plus could do better

There’s simply not a lot worth watching outside of a few key TV shows and definitely not enough to keep you subscribed past Apple’s occasionally absurd free trial offers. Tom Hanks’ World War II drama Greyhound has drummed up a fair bit of interest and the Beastie Boys doco is worth a shout but that’s it. There’s more on the horizon, like Tom Holland’s Cherry but it will be a long while before Apple TV Plus reaches a pace that’s worth staying subscribed for.

5. Streaming service: Britbox

Britbox - Streaming Services Australia

britbox logo
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5

Britbox? Who?

One of the most recent additions to the Australian streaming scene, Britbox is a service with a very simple proposition: do you love British telly and lots of it? Well guv, give Britbox a butcher’s hook.

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The need-to-know of Britbox

  • Free trial: 7 days
  • Price: $8.99 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: Over 40 movies
  • TV shows: Over 150 TV shows

What I like about Britbox

Doctor Who has called ABC iview home for as far back as I can remember but as a digital catch-up service, it’s only ever offered a limited number of episodes and seasons. Britbox, on the other hand, is a paid service that is home to all thirteen Doctors. That fact alone is sure to attract a fair chunk of subscribers in Australia but there also British comedy classics such as Absolutely Fabulous, Fawlty Towers, Only Fools and Horses, and binge-worthy Brit crime mysteries like Midsomer Murders and Doc Martin.

It’s a little expensive for what it is at $8.99 per month (same as Disney Plus) but it’s still great value for folks who keep Foxtel for UKTV alone (Hi Nan!).

What could be better about Britbox

It’s a new streaming service here in Australia, so you could excuse the rather slim collection of TV shows and movies. Still, 150 TV shows and 41 movies aren’t much. It’s a similar library size to Shudder, sure, but Shudder churns out some great original (and exclusive) TV shows and movies that are worth the admission alone. Britbox is only good for revisiting old British classics. For some, that will be enough.

6. Streaming service: DocPlay

DocPlay - Streaming Services Australia

DocPlay
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5

Some of the latest and greatest documentaries.

DocPlay is a neat little local streaming service. Funded by Screen Australia, DocPlay offers over 700 documentaries in high-definition. It’s a classy library of highly-regarded feature-length documentaries, and typically the first place I’ll check for a new release.

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The need-to-know of DocPlay

  • Free trial: 14 days
  • Price: $7.99 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: Over 650 documentaries
  • TV shows: Over 40 docuseries

What I like about DocPlay

Whenever a new documentary catches my eye, there’s a high chance that it’s available on DocPlay. The latest was Feels Good Man, a feature-length doco chronicling the life of Pepe the Frog, an innocent cartoon character that became a symbol of hate. That’s a recent release, but a glance through DocPlay’s library shows it’s home to some of the all-time greats; Searching for Sugar Man, Tickled, Blackfish, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi are all available to stream on DocPlay.

What could be better about DocPlay

DocPlay’s biggest problem is its competition, and unfortunately, that’s out of its hands. DocPlay doesn’t produce original or exclusive content, and a huge portion of its most popular documentaries are already available to stream on other platforms. The other big hurdle for DocPlay is that Netflix itself is producing some of the most popular documentaries of recent memory. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, Tiger King, The Last Dance, and Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer, are all worth a watch.

7. Streaming service: hayu

Hayu - Streaming Services Australia

Hayu Logo
Overall Rating 3.5 out of 5

An unhealthy serving of reality TV.

Some people aren’t looking to be challenged when they sit down to watch TV after a long day at work. They want all the drama and none of the nuance. Can you blame them? Say what you will about hayu but it wears its trash TV-loving heart on its sleeve and it’s subscribers know exactly what they’re signing up for, Drama with a capital D, fresh out of the oven.

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The need-to-know of hayu

  • Free trial: 1 month
  • Price: $6.99 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: None
  • TV shows: Over 240 TV shows

What we like about hayu

If you’re a reality TV tragic, there’s almost no looking past hayu. It’s got all of the reality greats: Kardashians, Jersey Shore and Real Housewives from just about every postcode you can imagine. Its menu might not be very exotic, but it has three staple ingredients for a carefree night on the couch: drama, dating, and just a little bit of murder. At $6.99 per month, the reality is, hayu is worth it for a lot of Australians.

What could be better about hayu

Hayu suffers the same problem as DocPlay in that some of its biggest series are already available to stream elsewhere. Below Deck, for example, is available on Binge, Netflix, Foxtel Now and 9now. Keeping up with the Kardashians is available on Binge, Foxtel Now, Prime Video, Netflix and 9now.

Granted hayu is typically the only service that offers every season of its biggest shows on-demand, Keeping Up with the Kardashians isn’t the kind of show you need to watch 19 seasons of to get where it’s going. It’s rich people getting paid to do crazy rich-people stuff, while occasionally stubbing a toe, and regularly blowing small disagreements way out of proportion. That’s the primer for 90% of hayu’s content.

8. Streaming service: MUBI

MUBI - Streaming Services Australia

MUBI Logo
Overall Rating 3.25 out of 5

Classy curated cinema.

It truly saddens me that MUBI isn’t higher up on this list because I have a deep respect for what the app is trying to achieve. MUBI is a streaming service unlike any other. In place of the huge streaming libraries you’ll find on Netflix and Prime Video, MUBI offers a smaller list of hand-picked films that rotates out every month. It sounds a little snooty and if the term arthouse gives you reflux, there might not be anything on MUBI for you but if you’re a devoted lover of quality cinema from across the globe, it might be worth the cost of admission.

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The need-to-know of MUBI

  • Free trial: 7 days
  • Price: $10.99 per month
  • 4K: No
  • HDR: No
  • Movies: Over 950
  • TV shows: None

What we like about MUBI

I’ve lost so many nights scrolling endlessly through the seemingly infinite offerings from Netflix and Prime Video. MUBI’s curated platform is the antidote to an overwhelming and saturated market.

Every month, MUBI subscribers are given a handful of movies to choose from, and its curators make a point to include a rich mix of cultures in their selections. In addition to a few MUBI original releases, subscribers are treated to a new movie every day, which is typically part of a themed collection (e.g. 1960s Masterpieces). Most movies that are added go into a growing library of titles you can watch at any time, but MUBI’s main draw is its curated daily drops.

At the time of writing, Steven Soderbergh’s 2018 thriller Unsane, a movie shot on iPhone 7 Plus and edited with the FiLMiC Pro app, is the movie of the day. Yesterday was Jean-Luc Goddard’s 1965 French New Wave flick Pierrot le Fou.

If there’s one small reason to check out MUBI, it’s the recently released original Nimic; a short film from Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Favourite) starring Matt Dillon in which a family man is haunted by a woman who mirrors his every move.

What could be better about MUBI

If hayu is the deep-fried all-you-can-eat buffet of streaming in Australia, MUBI is the sustainable, locally grown produce. The quality of the movies speak for themselves, and we could all do with fewer choices but just like a well-balanced diet, the idea can sound easier than the execution.

When the mood hits me, I’ll happily take one of MUBI’s top-shelf recommendations, but that mood doesn’t come around regularly enough to warrant a $10.95 per month subscription. Even when I do settle in for something more robust to chew on, it’s not hard to find a high-quality movie on Prime Video or Netflix either, despite they’re overwhelmingly mainstream libraries.