Presto | The first real victim of the Australian streaming wars

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Launched as a pre-emptive strike against the inevitable launch of Netflix back in 2014, Presto officially shut up shop on 1 Feb 2017.

While Presto can't quite claim the mantle of Australia's first video streaming service, it does get credit for being one of the country's Internet TV pioneers. Launching almost 12 months before Netflix officially arrived in Australia, Presto helped promote the potential of Internet streaming for entertainment, despite the fact that it never enjoyed the same level of success as Stan or Netflix.

As of 1 February 2017, the Presto service has been officially shuttered, with owner Foxtel instead pushing Presto customers towards its digital Foxtel Play platform (now known as Foxtel Now). While the decision is unlikely to please everyone, it did force Foxtel to slice the lowest price point for Foxtel Play back down to $10/month.

While the closure of Presto is sure to inconvenience a number of users, the industry is far from lacking in alternatives. Not only do users have the obvious choice of Foxtel Play, alongside market leaders Netflix and Stan, but the recently launched Amazon Prime Video also provides a new portal to exclusive content.

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A brief history of Presto

When it launched in March 2014, Presto was a remarkably different offering from the service that shuttered in 2017. In its original form, Presto was exclusively a movie streaming service, offering films at standard definition resolution and at a cost of $19.99 per month. By August 2014, owner Foxtel had realised Presto's pricing was unsustainable and dropped the price to $9.99.

In December 2014, still three months before the Australian launch of Netflix, Foxtel announced that Presto Entertainment would become a joint venture with the Seven Network and would introduce a subscription for television programming as well.

Rather than just bundling everything together for simplicity, Presto priced its packages at $9.99 each, or $14.99 for both TV and movies. At this stage, content was still only offered in standard definition, despite Fairfax/Nine's joint venture Stan arriving with HD in January 2015.

It was only in August 2015 that Presto updated its library to high definition and introduced an adaptive bitrate system to do away with buffering issues.

The service also worked hard over time to introduce new ways to watch, with AirPlay and Chromecast compatibility alongside dedicated apps for PlayStation consoles and Telstra TV.

A month before Foxtel bought out Seven's stake in the joint venture and announced its closure, Presto reported that it had 130,000 paying subscribers to its service, a number that was dwarfed by Netflix and even Stan.

The Foxtel Play transition

In order to try and sway people to switch from Presto to Foxtel Play with minimum effort, Foxtel announced a special offer exclusive to Presto customers. The deal includes the Pop pack for $15 per month (which is Play's home of all things HBO, so you can binge watch Game of Thrones and Westworld) and three months of free access to the Movies pack, which is usually worth $20 per month.

If you have any remaining free entitlements on Presto as of 1 February 2017, you will receive a credit of equal value on your Foxtel Play account within one week of signing up (based on $14.99 per month).

With Presto officially switched off from 1 February 2017, the only way to watch many of the shows Presto offered exclusively is now through Foxtel Play. If that content doesn't appeal to you, then there's a whole range of other amazing content on offer across all the Australian streaming platforms.

In June 2017, Foxtel improved the service again with a complete rebrand to Foxtel Now, HD streaming, Chromecast support and an all-new user interface.


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