Since launch, Netflix has successfully infiltrated Australian loungerooms but Foxtel isn't going down without a fight.
Before we begin to compare and contrast these two specific services, let's get you up to speed with the overall concept of pay TV vs streaming.
For a full explainer on pay TV (cable) check out our comprehensive guide for everything you need to know. For all things streaming and on-demand, head over to our hub for more information on your options in Australia.
Up to speed on the pros and cons? Great. Let's move on to tonight's matchup: Netflix, the US heavyweight on track to eclipse Hollywood someday, and Foxtel, the plucky Aussie contender that's punching well above its weight in a few key entertainment areas.
For the sake of this toe-to-toe comparison, we're comparing Foxtel's on-demand streaming platform Foxtel Now against the multinational monolith Netflix.
Netflix vs Foxtel: Price
Netflix can be purchased in a tier system: Basic, Standard and Premium. Foxtel takes a different approach in that it asks customers to tailor the service to their tastes by ordering from a variety of packages (each of which are further split into Starter Packs and Premium Packs).
In Netflix's case, the AU$7.99 Basic option will get you Standard Definition (SD) and one concurrent stream. The AU$10.99 Standard plan gets you High Definition (HD) and will allow you to stream Netflix to two screens. Lastly, Premium goes for AU$13.99 and offers 4K streaming plus support for four devices at any one time.
Conversely, the basic Starter Pack of Foxtel is AU$10 to join, though this option lacks the lion's share of entertainment available on the service. From here you'll really want to opt into additional packs which cost extra per month and include content from a variety of different channels. Typically the Standard packs are AU$10 and the Premium packs (think: the hottest movies and most sought-after sporting events) go for AU$20.
How do Netflix and Foxtel's content libraries compare?
Netflix is heavily invested in creating quality, exclusive original content, like Orange Is The New Black, Stranger Things, Altered Carbon and Okja. Foxtel's strengths lie in securing the local rights to much sought-after content like Game of Thrones and other key HBO titles, not to mention live coverage of all the local sporting codes.
All that said, what we'll focus on today is library totals. At last check (29 August 2018), Netflix Australia had 1,499 TV shows and 3,422 movies with a total of 4,921 titles whereas Foxtel had 1,406 TV shows and 1,436 movies for a total of 2,842.
Those are pretty grim numbers for our old chum Foxtel, with nearly half as many titles as Netflix Australia. That said, titles are consistently added and removed from both services and the tide can change from month to month. Check the graph for a better visual on how the two services compare.
What about kids' programming?
Netflix is great in that it allows the setup of child-specific user profiles which are password protected and can shield minors from inappropriate content. What will be available to them is a wide array of premium kids' content, thanks to Netflix having solid partnerships with various distributors. Netflix also gets the edge over most other streaming services due to its commitment to original content that can't be found anywhere else. For example, Dreamworks is currently partnered to produce awesome TV series like Dragons: Race to the Edge, a remake series of Inspector Gadget and All Hail King Julien.
Foxtel offers a dedicated Kids channel pack that lets your ankle-biters stream thousands of episodes from the world's best brands. You can expect to see content from networks like Nick, Nick Jr., Disney (XD, Channel and Junior), Cartoon Network and Cbeebies to name a few. Foxtel also offers parents the peace of mind that comes with channel and classification block functions. Foxtel also go the extra mile here by offering a viewing time limit function.
Does Netflix Australia or Foxtel offer better quality streaming?
In streaming terms, both providers are using an automated bit-rate adaption technology that allows the movie to stream in line with your Internet speed. That said, Foxtel also has the satellite TV option available (providing you're willing to have a professional install the cabling required). While the resolution of the Foxtel Now service is technically the same as the satellite, the bit rate coming through a dedicated cable is of a better quality than what most Internet users can download. Mind you, you'd have to have pretty sharp eyes to spot the difference.
Both Foxtel and Netflix offer SD, HD and Ultra HD (4K) resolutions on your television depending on which package you choose. Netflix offers a decent array of shows and movies at 4K (though it does an iffy job of informing you which of these are UHD before you click into them).
On the other side of the fence, Foxtel is new to the 4K fight. It's currently offering UHD to customers via its proprietary iQ4 set-top box and is included in the Sports + HD packs. Initially, there will be only one 4K channel that will show mixed-genre content at launch – including sport, movies, docos, etc. On demand, 4K content is currently not available but it is planned to be a thing in the near future.
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