You know Netflix, but have you heard of the horrors on Shudder? Or the best of Binge?
The best streaming services in Australia
- : Best for movies
- : Best overall
- : Best for original series
- : Best for families
- : Best for exclusive horror
- : Best for reality TV
- : Original and classic movies
- : Best free
- : Next best free
- : British TV series
- : Premium TV and blockbuster movies
- : best for local streaming and movies
- : HBO movies and shows
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 grows 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.
We’ve spent a lot of time (possibly too much) analysing and trialling each streaming service to find out which ones are worth your money. The fact is, every streaming service has something unique to offer. But out of all the streaming services we've reviewed, a few stand out amongst the rest. Amazon Prime Video still offers the best bang for your buck but Apple TV+ and Disney+ are churning out some of the most sought-after originals, despite their smaller content libraries.
Let's take a look at the complete list of the best streaming services in Australia.
Compare the best streaming services
|4K streaming3 streamsDeal: 30-day free trial||$9.99/mth||Go to site|
|Binge Standard planHD streaming2 streamsDeal: 7-day free trial||$18/mth||Go to site|
|Apple TV+ plan4K streaming6 streams (Family Sharing)Deal: 7-day free trial||$12.99/mth||Go to site|
|Disney+ plan4K streaming3 streamsDeal: $139.99 for 12mths||$13.99/mth||Go to site|
|Netflix Standard + AdsHD streaming2 streams||$6.99/mth||Read more|
|Stan Basic planSD streaming1 stream||$10/mth||Read more|
|Kayo One PlanHD streaming 1 streamDeal: 7-day free trial||$25/mth||Go to site|
|Foxtel Now EssentialsHD streaming2 streamsAccess to over 30 channelsDeal: 10-day free trial||$25/mth||Go to site|
|Shudder planHD streaming1 streamDeal: 7-day free trial||$6.99/mth||Go to site|
|Hayu PlanHD streaming1 streamDeal: 7-day free trial||$6.99/mth||Read more|
|Paramount+ planHD streaming2 streamsDeal: 7-day free trial||$9.99/mth||Read more|
|Britbox planHD streaming5 streamsDeal: 7-day free trial||$8.99/mth||Go to site|
|Netflix BasicSD streaming1 stream||$10.99/mth||Read more|
|Netflix StandardHD streaming2 streams||$16.99/mth||Read more|
|Netflix Premium4K streaming4 streams||$22.99/mth||Read more|
|Binge Basic + Ads planSD streaming1 streamDeal: 7-day free trial||$10/mth||Go to site|
|Binge Premium planHD streaming4 streamsDeal: 7-day free trial||$22/mth||Go to site|
|Kayo Basic PlanHD streaming 2 streamsDeal: 7-day free trial||$30/mth||Go to site|
|Kayo Premium PlanHD streaming 3 streamsDeal: 7-day free trial||$35/mth||Go to site|
|Stan Standard planHD streaming3 streams||$16/mth||Read more|
|Stan Premium plan4K streaming4 streams||$21/mth||Read more|
|Stan Sport add-onHD or 4K streaming||$15/mth add-onMin. cost $25/mth (Stan Sport + Basic)||Read more|
|Essentials + Movies planHD streaming2 streamsAccess to over 30 channels + Movies on-demandDeal: 10-day free trial||$45/mth||Go to site|
|Foxtel Now All Packs planHD streaming2 streamsAccess to over 30 channels + Movies on-demand + Live sports + Drama Extra, Kids and DocosDeal: 10-day free trial||$59/mth* *First 12mths. Then $104/mth||Go to site|
Amazon Prime Video
Best movie streaming site overall
When Amazon Prime Video first launched locally, 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 $9.99 per month. It’s hard to argue with that.
For that price, you get 4K streaming, three simultaneous streams, complete access to the TV and movie catalogue, plus all the shopping discounts and perks that come with being an Amazon Prime subscriber.
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.
Sure, Prime Video's expansive movie collection 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.
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.
Next best streaming service overall
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.
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.
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 Bridgerton.
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. It's quite bullish for a service that constantly raises its prices, completely removed its free trial and continues to try and block people from sharing accounts.
Best new originals
When Apple TV+ 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 a lot of what was there (like See) was almost universally panned.
Apple TV+ has grown since then, and subscribers are finally enjoying the fruits of their free trials with some top-shelf televisio and movies. Workplace sci-fi thriller Severance has nourished a lot of water cooler talk, and drama flick CODA became the the first streaming exclusive to win Best Picture when it took the gong at the 94th Academy Awards. Its earlier hits, like Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet and Ted Lasso have continued to deliver the goods in their respective second seasons too.
Apple TV+ also wins points for venturing outside of its walled garden and onto a wider variety of devices, like Xbox, PlayStation 5 and even Chromecast with Google TV.
The only downside is, there simply isn't all that much to keep you subscribed once you burn through the originals. Its library is made up of originals alone so if you want to stream some classics, you'll be coughing up for a second streaming service.
Best streaming service for the whole family
Disney’s monopoly on some of the biggest media franchises of all time means Disney+ scored the highest in our Box Office analysis. We scored each service on the number of Top 10 Box Office Blockbusters (International) it had from the last decade and it's no wonder Disney+ came out on top.
That monopoly is also why Disney is so keen to throw absurd amounts of cash at its originals. The Mandalorian wasn’t for everyone, but as big fans of Dave Filoni’s world-building in Clone Wars (and a secret prequel apologist), I found the second season to be a meaty serving of unabashed fan service.
For the whole family, there are all the Disney animation classics, from Aladdin to recent Pixar fare like Turning Red. And after hours, adults can switch over to Star for a more mature lineup with classics like Heat and Alien, and more recent hits like Jo Jo Rabbit and Fresh.
The only issue with Disney+ Originals is that they tend to be just as formulaic as the Marvel and Star Wars movies have become. It's good popcorn television but its Originals are feeling less significant by the day.
Best streaming service for horror fans
Shudder's spooky selection of curated flicks won’t be for everyone but 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.
Movies like Host and La Llorona are fun, fresh takes on classic genre stories, and TV series like Cursed Films and Creepshow are interesting and well-produced at the very least.
There's a good mix of nationalities and languages represented. Only seven of those films were filmed in the United States, while the rest is made up of quality content hailing from South Korea, Indonesia, Belgium, France, Sweden, Guatemala, Canada and Norway. There's also a TV show from New Zealand called The Dead Lands which was developed in partnership with TVNZ.
Shudder 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. For the originals alone, Shudder is worth $6.99 per month, at least until we run out of originals to watch.
Dedicated library for reality TV show fans
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.
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.
Hayu suffers the same problem as a few niche services in that some of its biggest series are already available to stream on other services you might already have. Below Deck, The Real Housewives and Top Chef are all available on Binge, for example. Granted, many off the spin-offs are only available on Hayu (such as Below Deck: Down Under), so there's still value for true reality TV connoisseurs. And that's what it boils down to really. If you can't get enough of the previously mentioned series, Hayu is the only place that will continue to sate your appetite long after the credits have rolled. It's just a shame Hayu didn't manage to lock down the streaming rights for the new Kardashians series.
Exciting new originals and plenty of classic movies
Paramount Plus might be overlooked as a streaming platform, but there are definitely some gems in there that are at the very least worth the 7-day free trial. You can catch up on loads of Channel 10 content like The Bachelor and Survivor (hello on-demand Jonathan LaPaglia), locally-made TV series like Five Bedrooms and Spreadsheet and live comedy performances from the likes of Celia Pacquola, Matt Okine, Anne Edmonds and Geraldine Hickey.
There are also some promising up-and-coming originals, such as Ziwe, Yellowjackets, 1883 (the Yellowstone prequel), The Offer, Halo and plenty of ways for Trekkies to go boldly where no streaming service has gone before. It's also home to Twin Peaks and Daria, which will be enough to net subscriptions from at least two huge cult fanbases.
Like other niche services on this list, the value of Paramount+ is only muddied by the fact that, outside of the originals, you can stream most of its content on free-to-air or other streaming services.
Best free movie streaming site in Australia
Tubi is a free-to-use streaming site that was purchased by Fox in early 2020. It was first launched in the US back in 2014 but only made its way to Aussie shores in late 2019. In case you were wondering, it is 100% legal to use. Unlike most subscription models, Tubi is 100% ad-supported. Here in Australia, giving Tubi a go won't cost you a thing.
Still, there aren’t as many ads as you would expect given it's free. Ad breaks are only around done to two minutes long, To test it, we watched a movie and a couple of TV episodes and only experienced about six ads. That’s nowhere near as many ads you’d have to sit through watching an episode of Masterchef.
Tubi’s no-cost admission is its biggest selling point but its massive library of movies is its second strongest draw. As you could probably guess, its 12,000+ catalogue of movies isn’t short of a few duds and B-grade bangers but that’s part of the charm. You can stream award-winning films like Brokeback Mountain and Birdman, bonafide classics like Metropolis and Nosferatu, as well as some of the worst and best-of-the-bad flicks like Samurai Cop and Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Next best streaming site for free movies
Kanopy houses over 11,000 movies and over 100 TV shows but more important is the quality of movies you can find there. A huge number of Kanopy's movies hold an IMDB score of 7 or above. It’s also the only place you’ll find masterpieces like Kurosawa’s Rashomon or Tarkovsky’s Solaris, which is why it’s considered an invaluable free resource for anyone studying film.
But therein lies the biggest problem (and catch) with Kanopy. To access it, you need an eligible library card from a library that pays for it. While it might be free to you, a subscription to Kanopy can cost your library a small fortune, and depending on what plan your library pays for, you might be limited to ten streams per month.
Those caveats make it hard to recommend to a broader audience. Kanopy’s competitor Beamafilm offers a similar service but also gives the general public the option to pay for a subscription. That said, paying for it means it no longer qualifies as a free streaming service.
Come with me
Here are five of the best sites and services for streaming movies and TV shows in Australia without paying a cent.
One-stop-shop for all your favourite British programs
BritBox sounds like a great idea in theory - a one-stop-shop for all your favourite British programs, both old and new. What’s not to like? Unfortunately, the lack of original content, limited features and rare new additions makes it a harder sell than it should be. Still, the website and apps are neatly designed and easy to use, and it’s still well worth a look if you’re a true anglophile.
BritBox is on the cheaper side of the pricing spectrum at $8.99 per month or $89.99 for the full year.
It's appropriately priced. While there are classics like Midsomer Murders and Fawlty Towers, and contemporary hits like Luther and Line of Duty, there are a few glaring omissions for a service that claims to offer the best the Brits have to offer. There's no The Great British Bake Off, no Sherlock, no Downton Abbey and none of the holy trinity of British soap; Eastendsers, Coronation Street or Emmerdale.
That said, there are bound to people who subscribe for the latest episodes of Line of Duty alone.
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 and more reliable streaming solution than Foxtel Now.
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.
Binge hit the ground running (okay, more of a brisk walk) when it first launched and we'’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.
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.
Good local productions and a healthy library of TV and movies.
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.
Stan threw its weight behind one of the best horror movies of 2020, Natalie Erika James’ Relic and developed No Activity, one of the best Aussie comedies of recent memory.
But at the end of the day, Stan just seems to always have what we're looking for when it comes to classic movies. With recent reboots and sequels, Stan delivers the goods for Halloween, Top Gun, The Dark Knight.
Stan is has entered the sports streaming game with a $15 add-on that offers access to Rugby and Tennis live streams. Stan Sport is running mostly unchallenged in the sports streaming space, unless you count the A-League coverage on Paramount+.
High-priced HBO with not many benefits.
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.
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+
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?
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. Ultimately though, the final score for each streaming service was decided by the writer who reviewed it.
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