Netflix, Stan and Presto battle for consumer dollars, but what’s the difference?

Miranda WardThe official arrival of Netflix in Australia today fires the starting gun on what could be one of the biggest marketing wars this year. Miranda Ward runs the ruler over the new local offering and how it measures up the its US counterpart, as well as local players Stan and Presto.

Australians have never had so many options as to how they consume content – but for people looking to dip their toes in the video streaming waters the options are many and dazzling with many shows carried by more than one service, and all having different exclusive content.

I’ve been using the US version of Netflix for the last month, while I’ve also experimented with Stan and Presto. But which will consumers choose?


We’ll start by looking at the first thing to jump out at most consumers – how much they’re going to part with to get the services.

NetflixThe Australian version of Netflix is cheaper than it’s US counterpart, with access to the Aussie platform beginning at $8 for a standard definition plan for one screen. Access to the US platform comes in at US$7.99 for the comparable service – about $10.16 in Aussie currency per month. And when you add to the cost of the US service the extra expense of the VPN needed to access it, around $40 per year, the savings start to add up.

StanStan, Fairfax and Nine Entertainment Co’s streaming service, is available at $10 a month for access to its movies and TV shows, but that makes it available across three screens and in high definition.

Netflix has two other tiers – two streams in high definition for $11.99 per month, and 4K ultra high definition family bundle across four screens for $14.99 – known as the ‘family bundle’.

prestoFoxtel and Seven West Media’s venture Presto is more complicated with two tiers.

It starts at $9.99 a month for access to either movies or TV but not both, for bundled access users will need to pay $14.99 a month. All subscription tiers are currently available across Windows PCs, Macs, iPads, select iPhones and Android devices and via Google Chromecast.

The real question is how many people will part with around $120 per year for more than one of these services?

Netflix has the advantage as any revenue here is new – it’s not cannibalizing its own services.

Stan and Presto will have to be slightly more circumspect in how they operate – careful not to move consumers away from their lucrative TV offerings – which generate vastly higher profit margins than these services can on subscription models.

Foxtel has been singled out as the business most threatened by these services – and it will need to hang onto those lucrative subscribers and somehow persuade them Presto is an ‘and also’ service they need – a tricky task.

It will also be interesting to see how the signups go with younger demographics – with many now used to accessing content on demand via free torrents and downloads – can they be persuaded to part with the price of a couple of coffees every month to give something back to content creators?

There could be some interesting marketing around behaviour change to be done here.


So with relatively little to choose between them in the way of price, it will come down to content.

There are thousands of titles from around the globe from different content owners signed up to these services. But it’s a complicated landscape – with different services holding different first run and second run rights with various distributors the waters are very far from crystal clear.

NetflixSydney software developer Kenneth Tsang has made a spreadsheet comparing Netflix ANZ to its US counterpart. The US platform boasts a total of 8,499 pieces of content compared to 1,116 pieces of content currently on the local version according to Tsang’s analysis.

While there was speculation Netflix Original series, namely House of Cards and Orange is The New Black, wouldn’t be available on the local platform due to licensing agreements with local providers such as Foxtel both series are available in full and the third series of OITNB will be available when it premieres in June. I’m sure this will be a hit amongst Ruby Rose fans as she makes her debut on the show.

StanStan launched with 750 titles – including exclusive content like Amazon shows Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle and its biggest drawcards Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul – but has been adding more to its library since coming to market in January.

Presto TV launched with a collection of shows from HBO, Showtime, CBS Studios International, Viacom and Hasbro Studios as well as local content from Foxtel, Seven and ABC Commercial. Its movie offering boasted content from major studios including MGM, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Roadshow Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney, Warner Bros ICON and Studiocanal.

Presto offers a good variety of TV content, with local drama Wentworth a drawcard. The Sopranos, The Newsroom, The Wire, Big Love,Homeland and Entourage round out the content, with Glee, Modern Family and Veep offering more light-hearted alternatives here.

But it does seem to lack the big buzz-worthy new show such as Better Call Saul to get people truly excited about it – possibly as a result of not wanting to take away from the pull of Foxtel and Seven’s exclusive new titles.

Stan scores brownie points, and no doubt more viewers, for securing the prequel to Breaking Bad which is noticeably absent on Netflix both in Australia and the US. for me it scored extra points for offering US series Hannibal – which Netflix offers via its DVD service in the US.

In terms of the technical side of things, Stan and Presto in my experience are still ironing out the glitches, with problems with errors and longer buffering times when compared to the Netflix platform.

As a user who wants access content to be quick and easy this is a major problem which could well result in me finding the content elsewhere. Colleagues have also reported issues with streaming to Chromecast as well on Stan – another issue which will need to be sorted quickly.


Content discovery is a big issue for these new platforms, with so many titles displayed together users can be bamboozled.

Netflix has led the way in Amazon-style recommendations – working out what people might want to watch based on their current show choices.  By choosing a few shows you like when you sign up the algorithm is already getting up to speed on what else you should be checking out.

This is something that is noticeably absent from Stan and Presto.

When setting up my Netflix account I chose Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad and 30 Rock and was recommended shows such as Bob’s Burgers, Spartacus, Futurama, How I Met Your Mother, That 70’s Show and Bates Motel: five out of these six shows I have watched all or part of and enjoyed.

Netflix top picks

(And yes, these were the shows I was recommended when I signed up for the US platform.)

Stan does offer some suggestions for what you might like – but in my experience these have thrown up some pretty random choices – like Irish comedy drama from the 90s Ballykissangel while I’m watching Better Call Saul.

Presto PG pincode Netflix offers a “kids section” and allows parents to set up profiles for their children which enable them to only access kid-friendly content. Stan also has a kids section and offers users the ability to have multiple platforms just as Netflix but with a pin-code needed to switch between profiles.

Presto has taken the digit pin code to the next level with it needed to be punched in when viewing non-PG content, a bit of a turn-off for childless types after using both Netflix and Stan.


All of these platforms are ad free – but that doesn’t mean there won’t be options for advertisers. Currently product placements in Netflix Original series is the only way advertisers can get their products in front of viewers. Locally this will rely on Netflix investing in local productions to ensure local clients can get their brand on screen.

The US behemoth also employs native advertising as part of its own promotional activity. Last year Netflix worked with the New York Times on a piece of branded content on women inmates tied to the hit series Orange is The New Black, a clever way of connecting the Netflix brand with issues and other brands in a way that doesn’t detract from the user experience.

Stan has already indicated interest in local productions, confirming a six-part series called Wolf Creek, there could be opportunities here for local advertisers to get their brands showcased via product placement.

While Presto is also ad free marketers might be able to leverage Foxtel and Seven for product placements around their own shows which will be exclusive to the platform.

It’s a case of two evolving platforms versus one well-established global player.

Having tried them all I’m sticking with my VPN and the US service – for the time being. I’ll keep my eye on Stan as it does have potential, but until some of those issues are resolved I’m team Netflix US through and through.

  • Miranda Ward is a reporter at Mumbrella

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