Pay TV

Not a transport post.

In years gone by, I scoffed at the idea of paying $50+ a month for Foxtel pay TV, and I wasn’t the only one – apparently by 2012, only 28% of Australian homes had a pay TV subscription.

I suppose Foxtel needed to cover their delivery infrastructure costs, unlike today’s streaming services which are built on top of existing home broadband internet.

Times change, and this month I’ve found myself paying for a multitude of streaming services.

  • Netflix $15.99/month, but about to go up to $16.99
  • Amazon Prime Video $6.99
  • Disney Plus $11.99
  • Apple TV Plus $7.99

I was on a free Apple TV Plus deal thanks to buying an iPad in 2020, and I’ve just redeemed another 3 months via the iPhone I recently bought. I very much enjoyed Ted Lasso and I’m giving Morning Wars (aka The Morning Show) a try, but I can’t say I’ve found much else of interest, so I’ll probably cancel it at the end of the free period.

(One irritant with Apple TV+ is it doesn’t work with Chromecast. But another jarring thing is that every single character in Ted Lasso and Morning Wars uses an iPhone.)

I signed up to Disney Plus for the Beatles Get Back doco, which was great. I’ve also watched all of The Mandalorian, which was good, and spin-off Boba Fett which was okay – but I felt a bit guilty for enjoying the flashback story more than the main story, liking the main story a lot more once The Mandalorian joined. Before that, I almost despaired at the ridiculousness of the multi-colour bike/car chase in episode 3.

Nothing else is grabbing me at the moment, so I’ve just ditched Disney too for now, at least until something else compelling comes along. (ooh… Obi Wan Kenobi trailer!)

Amazon Prime is cheap, and bundled with the free delivery deal, which has been handy during the last couple of years. I’ve very much enjoyed watching The Expanse and Man in the High Castle… and a few others. But I’m probably at the point where I should disconnect that one as well. (ooh, Star Trek Picard season 2!)

I’ll keep Netflix for now. We just finished watching Dark (which was excellent), and I feel like there’s enough other stuff to watch that makes it worthwhile.

I yet haven’t explored some of the other services like Stan, Paramount Plus and Brit Box. AMCPlus is a new entrant, but it’s only available as an add-on to Apple TV+ or Prime Video.

And of course there’s ABC iView, and the commercial TV station offerings, which are free but with adverts.

The latter, including SBS Online, are sometimes pretty dodgy in the ad breaks, with stuttering video, countdown timers that don’t work, and in the case of 7Plus, some ads that are silent slideshows, and bizarrely, lots of ads in Spanish for Dominican Republic bank Banco BHD Leon.

Navigating all of these services is messy, especially as most of them don’t let you search the catalogue without first subscribing. Justwatch is good for finding which service has which shows.

Still, the fact that my streaming services added up to almost $50 before I started culling just makes me wonder if Foxtel could have done better all those years ago when it was the only game in town, if it had offered a cheap basic service, and more value add options.

  • From 2015: an earlier blog when I pondered Stan, Presto (now Binge) and Netflix

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

11 replies on “Pay TV”

Foxtel was a platform that had cornered a certain market, *cough* my parents *cough* and were just milking them for money with no real value apart from live sport (and even then the only thing my parents watched was footy). It was just endless repeats of mediocre TV. Streaming services are much better value because you can pick and choose what you want, they have dedicated new content, you can dip in and out if need be as well. You aren’t locked into some proprietary box under your tv. That being said, if you subscribe to all or most of them you are pushing toward foxtel rates, but still better value id say.

We share the cost across our family which is working well – Currently paying circa $35 a month for Netflix, Stan, Disney+, Kayo, Prime (free amazon shipping makes this worth it alone tbh) and Binge (hello modern foxtel).

On Apple TV we just finished After Party and enjoyed it, if you like musical TV, then Central Park and Schmigadon are both great

Daniel, I guess your dilemma about what to subscribe to and value for money is played out in most households.
It wasn’t that long ago that new release movies used to appear on FTA around a year after their cinema release. Not so now. We get endless reruns of Love Actually and old Tom Hanks movies in prime time.
So we are being forced to pay for what we use to get for free. A similar thing with sport. Not good!

I think the TV content producers are doing themselves a massive disservice. Apple “fixed” music for good back in the iPod days. (Almost) all music there at a cheap price per song and (almost) everybody joined in. Then came Spotify and its ilk and now content providers are making money and consumers are getting all their music. There are no exclusive arrangements between bands and radio stations. They want their content out there.
When Netflix launched, movies started going in that direction and then TV followed. And then they broke it. All the content producers decided to get in on the act. They all already have large infrastructure, customer service deliver, CRM, etc – barriers to entry are not huge. So now you need 6 services just to get your content. And, hey, let’s watch seasons of Outlander on Netflix to discover the latest one is on BINGE. And Trek is moving. FFS. They are driving their customers back to torrents. They will be their own undoing.

Prime has a stack of gaming benefits too, free items in lots of online games and also has some music and ebooks for Kindle. My Prime is $59/year rather then a monthly sub ($83.88/year @ $6.99/month. As realstretts said, we also spread the cost around a few family members and this has worked out really well. We’ve had a number of occasions though where there are too many screens active and someone has to wait. We had Stan for a couple of years, but after we watched the good stuff (Red Dwarf), it went unused for a few months and was dropped. The Apple geek in the family hasn’t even tried AppleTV but did try the cheap trial for Disney+ to watch the Mandolorian only.
I’ve had problems with some free-to-air TV streaming services, especially 10Play which showed me the same ad over and over in each ad break, so I saw the same ad about 18 times in a 60 minute show. SBS has had some problems, especially me fast forwarding through an episode if there was a problem previously and it showing all the ads stacked back-to-back, maybe 10 ads.

We have fetch tv hdmi1 and chromecast with google tv hdmi 2 (for apple) and a logitec remote one remote for all, shame logitec dont make remotes any more, fetch is an OTT provider i sub to Variety pack $6 per month plus i can record the FTA channels 4 at a time i think, fetch has apps Netflix, prime, paramount, britbox, acorn, plex, i wonder and stan but no apple, we share our subs amongst the family we all dip in and out when we’ve all caught up on what we want to watch, i pay no more than $25 per month.. Beats the repetitive stuff on foxtel

Plus all the FTA catch up on fetch as well if fetch had apple i would get rid of the chromecast with google tv

IMO the current era, even with its flaws, is far superior to the foxtel era. foxtel has ads on practically everything and is quite expensive, while with streaming you can pick and choose what services you want each month and theyโ€™re all ad-free

I got Fetch last year, added 3 premium channel packs ($5 each), and now pay $15 a month for my Discovery, MTV, TLC and BBC World News fix rather than $50+ for Foxtel. Highly recommend!

On Netflix, I find myself disabling and re-enabling every few months based on what I can watch. Can’t say I use other streaming services other than sailing the high sea ๐Ÿดโ€โ˜ ๏ธ

@Marek, thanks!

@Kev, that’s a really interesting point. The content providers all want to be Netflix, I guess.

Star Trek Picard just started again on Prime. I watched Discovery S1 on Netfliex, but now I want to catch up with S2 and S3, I see it’s moved to Paramount+. Pretty annoying – and I’m just reading an article about the unsurprising backlash from the many countries that don’t have Paramount+

@Shane, good point on the Prime annual subscription… though at the same time, I’m not entirely comfortable with giving Amazon more of my money, thanks to their broader business practices.

@Nikila, yes apart from the cost of Foxtel, I could never stomach paying money AND having ads in the programs!

@James, I’m intrigued by Fetch, particularly for some news channels, though I don’t want to be tied to an individual device.

I really feel like people are just going to start downloading illegal content again seeing that they’re paying nearly as much as what people used to pay on cable TV if they’re subscribed to a few streaming services. The issue I have is exclusive content by each service, and they’re really milking that a lot now.

Personally I would prefer that each content maker (TV and movie studios) just distribute them to all the streaming services, and the streaming services themselves compete with one another in terms of service and price but I guess I’m asking too much.

So I just end up sharing streaming services with my friends so we pool the cost.

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