ABC iview vs SBS On Demand: How do the Aussie catch-up services stack up?

Picture not described: sbs-iview.jpg Image: Getty

Why pay for Netflix or Stan when SBS On Demand and ABC iview are offering top-shelf content for free?

As the current state of free-to-air TV is a depressing wasteland of infomercials and awful reality TV, you'll probably want to look a class higher to SBS On Demand and ABC iview. The former is a streaming service that offers curated online content from Australia and around the globe, whereas the latter is the free Internet TV service of the ABC.

While both allow you to watch whenever and wherever it suits you, on the convenience of a personal computer, smartphone, smart TV, tablet or games console, we're sure you're aware that not all streaming services are created equal. Therefore, the question of the day is: which of these content providers are worth your precious free time?

Quick comparison

SBS On Demand

Pros
  • The best Aussie source for free international entertainment
  • Robust, high-quality movie library
Cons
  • Very limited kids' content
  • Sometimes inconsistent quality of international content

ABC iview

Pros
  • Tons of content for kids
  • Top-notch news and current affairs
Cons
  • No dedicated movie section

Updated April 22nd, 2019
Name Product Service type 4K/UHD? Simultaneous streams Free trial? Price What's next?
SBS On Demand
SBS On Demand
Catch-up
No
1
No
Free
ABC iview
ABC iview
Catch-up
No
Unlimited
No
Free

Compare up to 4 providers

Picture not described: sbs-on-demand-logo-new.png Image: Supplied
What service is available? Streaming Streaming
What content is available? TV shows and movies TV shows and movies
How to buy Click here for full details Click for full details
Starting price per month Free Free
Contract type No-lock-in No-lock-in
Hardware Smart TV, desktop, streaming devices or mobile device Smart TV, desktop, gaming console, mobile device or streaming devices
Compatibility on your mobile phone Yes Yes
Compatibility with consoles No Yes
Maximum streaming sessions 1 Unlimited
Closed captions Yes Yes
Quality HD SD
Content (approx) ~633 TV shows, ~432 movies ~747 programs
Popular content
  • Sesame Street
  • Peppa Pig
  • Bob the Builder
  • Teletubbies
How much data does it use? Average – 675MB/hour Average – 300MB/hour

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Do SBS On Demand and ABC iview cost anything?

Here's a simple comparison: SBS On Demand and ABC iview are both completely equal in the pricing stakes because these competing services will cost you absolutely nada, nothing, nix to use. Hooray for free things!

How do SBS On Demand and ABC iview's content libraries compare?

When you compare the raw numbers of each service, there's quite a sizeable disparity in content between SBS On Demand and ABC iview. At last check (1 April 2019), ABC iview had 747 programs on offer. Meanwhile, SBS On Demand had 633 TV programs and 432 movies for a grand total of 1,065 titles.

Clearly, this is a bit of a landslide victory for SBS On Demand. However, it's worth noting that a sizeable chunk of SBS's library is made up of world cinema and international TV shows. Though the language barrier is broached by a robust subtitling service, the production quality of overseas content is a pretty broad spectrum.

What about kids' programming?

Note before we begin: the content libraries of any streaming service are always shifting sands and what was present at the time of writing may have moved on. That being said, it's clear from our hundreds of hours of real-world experience that ABC iview is the better destination if you're keen to keep your children out of your hair for half an hour or so (or hours on end). Currently, the service is home to such big name and beloved children's fare as Sesame Street, Peppa Pig, Bob the Builder, Teletubbies, Bananas in Pyjamas, Postman Pat and Thomas & Friends.

Meanwhile, over the fence, SBS On Demand only has a handful (roughly a dozen) TV programs aimed at the little ones. But, to be fair, the service currently hosts two of our personal favourite and highly acclaimed animated shows: The Mysterious Cities of Gold and The Red Turtle. Bonus points for having the 1960s Batman show on hand, too. Oddly, the choices don't open up when you move over into the movies section of this service as it doesn't have a specific kids/family category. The best you'll get is an animation section that has a paltry five or so offerings. Nothing worth mentioning here.

Does SBS On Demand or ABC iview offer better quality streaming?

From a technical standpoint, there's not too much to differentiate between these two services, both utilise an industry standard technique called "automated bit-rate adaption technology". In simple terms, it selects and sends out your content at a quality level that rubber bands to your Internet capabilities. Bandwidth-wise, both providers recommend an Internet connection speed of 1.5 Mbps or above to use their services.

More TV and movie streaming options

Why stop at ABC iview and SBS On Demand when you can compare them all? See what Prime Video and Stan are offering in the table below.

Updated April 22nd, 2019
Name Product Service type 4K/UHD? Simultaneous streams Free trial? Price What's next?
Kayo Sports Basic
Kayo Sports Basic
Sports
No
2
14 days
$25 p/month
Foxtel Now - Pop and Lifestyle
Foxtel Now - Pop and Lifestyle
On-demand streaming
No
2
10 days
$25 p/month
The Pop pack includes premium HBO drama like Westworld and Game of Thrones and Foxtel Originals like Picnic at Hanging Rock. Lifestyle includes popular TV shows like Gogglebox Australian and Selling Houses Australia.
Foxtel Now - All Packs
Foxtel Now - All Packs
On-demand streaming
No
2
10 days
$104 p/month
Kayo Sports Premium
Kayo Sports Premium
Sports
No
3
14 days
$35 p/month
Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video
On-demand streaming
Yes
3
30 days
$6.99/month

Compare up to 4 providers

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