Foxtel Presto Review: Like Netflix, But Actually Meant For Australia

In a bid to keep movie streaming dollars inside Australia and inside is coffers, Foxtel decided to take its vault of movie content and throw it at a new subscription service that you actually might want to buy. We've been testing Foxtel Presto, and here's the verdict so far.

With Presto, you’ll be able to access all the movies that Foxtel has license to, including the new releases it sticks onto its movie streaming channels, which is good news for people who like close-to-cinema-release titles.

The studios currently signed on for Foxtel’s movie service include MGM, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Roadshow Films, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Hopscotch Entertainment One, ICON, Studiocanal and Transmission Films.

You’ll be getting access to all seven movie channels, including Foxtel Movies Premiere, Foxtel Movies Comedy, Foxtel Movies Drama/ Romance, Foxtel Movies Thriller/ Crime, Foxtel Movies Action/ Adventure, Foxtel Movies Family, and Foxtel Movies Masterpiece. The aim going forward is to take the top 200 movies at the box office in recent months and throw them into the streaming service as soon as a studio allows it.

When it launches, Presto will be available on PC and Mac computers, as well as iOS devices Android tablet apps coming later. There's also the potential for other devices like consoles and smart TVs but Foxtel won't be drawn on timing for those.

We've been playing with the iPad client for the last few days, and it's much prettier than Netflix for starters. It actually looks like something designed for this century. High resolution images and beautiful fold animations between pages and panels make for a consistent and smooth experience on the iPad. The sidebar keeps track of which section you're in, and contextual menus float and fold out as required.

Foxtel has actually integrated Rotten Tomatoes ratings and feedback on films into the Presto app, which means that you get ratings from critics and punters in-stream and on the movie panel pages. Everything is a horizontally-scrolling carousel design, allowing you to swipe from left to right to see more content.

Movies sit in a big library which can be accessed in just a few clicks or via a smart search function, but Foxtel has content people based in Sydney to create cute little collections of films for you to enjoy. Right now there's a big compendium of action movies recommended, because everyone likes explosions.

Speaking of explosions, there's the price to consider for all this content. People will still blow up at the $19.99 per month price for Presto, despite the fact that it's cheaper than it was meant to be at launch. Foxtel originally wanted to charge $24.99 per month for the service, but revised it down to the sub-$20 price we already have.

As we've already done in this review, people will compare it to Netflix, which at the time of publication costs $8.86 per month, plus a few bucks extra for a service like Getflix to route you into the US by use of a VPN. Netflix costs let's say $10 per month in Australia for argument's sake. That makes Presto twice as expensive as Netflix, and in the eyes of cheapskates, that's sure to bite Foxtel when it comes to sign-ups.

Speaking of sign-ups, it's actually annoying to actually give your money to Foxtel for the Presto service. At the moment, registration is broken up into two different sections: the sign-up and the subscription sections. You have to complete one, then download the app, confirm your email address and then start up the billing process to give Foxtel $20 of your money. It's cumbersome and unnecessary, but it does have a reason behind it according to Foxtel.

The idea is that you can browse Presto without a subscription. Without actually forking over any cash, you can make watchlists, see what's on the Foxtel Movies channels and check out the films on offer inside Presto. Foxtel don't want to force you to fork over money as soon as you sign-up for this reason. That's a good idea, but not one that should make paying customers work harder to actually give you their money.

Foxtel adds that it might want to expand the package offering in future, which means that subscription is kept as a separate module to the sign-up section. What they'll be offering in future is beyond us, but hopefully they make it worth the extra effort.

The resolution of Presto when streaming leaves a bit to be desired. According to Foxtel, the resolution is fixed at (what we think is) around 480p when streaming on tablets, but the bit-rate is dynamic based on your internet speed.

That bit-rate can swing anywhere from 64kbps right up to 1200kbps on a good connection. It'd be nice if you could just tick a box indicating that you'd prefer a higher-resolution stream if you're a pixel-peeper.

As far as data use is concerned, a two-hour movie is around 1GB to 1.5GB in size, and there are no unmetered agreements in place for using Presto just yet. Foxtel says it wants to look into it, but it's not an immediate priority given that the sorts of people who are going to be aware of streaming products will probably have a 50-100GB internet plan anyway.

The other concern is that there isn't Android at launch, but Foxtel assures us that it's around three months away.

As far as sticking the streamed movies onto another screen, Foxtel says it will allow users to stick an HDMI plug into their laptop and TV to display it on a larger panel (mostly because they can't stop that sort of thing if they tried. The problem comes at a studio level when you start to get into a conversation about AirPlay and Miracast: studios don't really like letting you wirelessly beam it onto a larger screen, so that's something Foxtel will be working through in the coming months.

All in all, Foxtel Presto is a great first attempt at getting a movie streaming service for Aussies off the ground. We've badly needed something like Presto for the last two years, and it's great to see that Foxtel recognises the challenge that new media platforms present and decided to build something rather than bitch endlessly. We're big fans of Presto, and we can't wait to see what else Foxtel has planned for it.


Comments

    What devices is it on? Will there be a PS4 App? Or will it just be on tablets and computers for now?

      Fifth paragraph:

      When it launches, Presto will be available on PC and Mac computers, as well as iOS devices Android tablet apps coming later. There's also the potential for other devices like consoles and smart TVs but Foxtel won't be drawn on timing for those.

        Damned if you write a full length article, damned if you don't.

        in some fairness to your overhanded tough flame of abuse he is semi correct to ask

        you said in paragraph 5 that currently its only desktop type units then in paragraph 6 you tell us you're testing on a tablet....

          Presto will be available on PC and Mac computers, as well as iOS devices Android tablet apps coming later.

          Now stick a full-stop in there:
          Presto will be available on PC and Mac computers, as well as iOS devices. Android tablet apps coming later.

          You could interpret it both ways, blame bad punctuation.

          Last edited 12/03/14 12:10 pm

            the whole Luke testing the app on a tablet didn't help much....

              ...and immediately I question the veracity of the Gizmodo test again. Seriously, learn how to write you geese. (Not intended to insult you @thebatman, in fact you pointed out the obvious (that Gizmodo is run by 'tards), thanks mate).

        "iOS devices Android tablet apps coming later" - but you were reviewing it on the "iPad client"? Is this not an app?

          "When it launches, Presto will be available on PC and Mac computers, as well as iOS devices"

          wow two down votes for asking a logical question - look out seems like Luke has some anti vax mindset fans out there, doesn't matter what colour they see the sky as, for them its always - LUKE.....

          nice guy for such rabid readers!

      @lukehopwell puts it far nicer than I did, be thankful my boss called just the moment before I likened your intellect to that a small chimp with obvious learning difficulties

      though perhaps the pretty pictures distracted you, much like my one year old boy can be when he sees pretty colours...

    So we'll barely get a 720p stream. Also no mentio of price? I'm guessing it will be double the price of netflix with a fraction of the content.

      [quote]People will still blow up at the $19.99 per month price for Presto, despite the fact that it’s cheaper than it was meant to be at launch. Foxtel originally wanted to charge $24.99 per month for the service, but revised it down to the sub-$20 price we already have.[/quote]

      Seriously, between you and @that_dan_person I'm despairing for the standard of reading comprehension in this country.

      Last edited 11/03/14 2:20 pm

      In addition to not reading about pricing, you clearly didn't comprehend the paragraph about resolution.

      The resolution of Presto when streaming leaves a bit to be desired. According to Foxtel, the resolution is fixed at (what we think is) around 480p when streaming on tablets, but the bit-rate is dynamic based on your internet speed.

      Its not even close to 1280x720p, but more like a 720x480p stream with variable bit-rate. Some people might be happy with it, but I'm too spoilt by HD to go back to a picture with worse resolution than standard definition PAL.

      Last edited 11/03/14 4:28 pm

        I think that might be because of the cost of bandwidth in this country. Foxtel would be running this out of their own data centre here in Australia.

        What are you comparing it to? Netflix or piracy?

          Well both are valid options for users that Foxtel will be competing with. Netflix has offered 1080p for ages now at $8 a month. You're telling me Foxtel couldn't afford the bandwidth to provide a 3-4mbps 720p stream to users? Its just cheaper for them to pretend that picture quality doesn't matter, and provide an NTSC-resolution service instead.

    Include TV shows (like Game of Thrones) for the same price and then I'd consider it.

      I'd definitely consider it (although I think even Netflix doesn't have HBO shows).

      I can live with $20/month.

      HBO can't be purchased in the united states for anything less than about $16 a month and that's only if you subscribe to a cable provider package first.

      Yet you expect an Australian company to offer HBO + unlimited movies from 10 studios for $20 a month?

      Dream on.

        Dream on.

        I will.

        Yet you expect an Australian company to offer HBO + unlimited movies from 10 studios for $20 a month?

        I never said I expected it, just that I want it. Hell I don't even want the movies. I honestly just want Game of Thrones in HD for at most $20 a month.

          Personally, I'd prefer paying $33 on iTunes for the season pass, as I have for the last 3 seasons.

            If only that was still an option

          Isn't Game of Thrones Disc only?

          Hey guy,
          you can watch game of Thrones if you get HBONOW for US$ 15 / month w/ private VPN
          I have for 4 devices the only thing is you have to do it in the US with US credit card.
          Cheers

        You can get anything from HBO from downloading online ( including game of thrones) for NOTHING, so your dreams are reality! lol.

      Yeah have to agree, without TV shows it's probably not going to attract the audience that Netflix does, but it's definitely a step in the right direction!

      This is not how Australian content gatekeeping works. If there was easy ways to get everything you want, people would just use it. You can't have that kind of efficiency. The bloated middleman industry must defend itself!

    So it's just movies ? Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't netflix offer tv series streaming too ?

      Yes it does, with original content, and full seasons appearing after being aired for third party content. Also higher quality streaming than this. I'll stick to my Netflix + Hulu which is still cheaper than this.

        Ah thanks for the info ! Yeah I dont think ill jump aboard just yet

    Seriously? $20 for 480p and just movies?

    Foxtel just don't get it do they?

      480p on tablets and phones.

        I don't think there's any indication of it being HD on anything else is there? I'd say it will be the same definition regardless of device (at least at first).

        As @insomniac said, there's no indication it'll be higher anywhere else. And at 1.2 Mbps maximum, it'd be pointless if it was anyway.

        Even I view is better than that. What a joke.

    "That makes Presto twice as expensive as Netflix, and in the eyes of cheapskates, that’s sure to bite Foxtel when it comes to sign-ups."

    So people who would rather not pay an extra 100% for their services are cheapskates?

      +1 I read recently that Foxtel generates the most profit per cable subscription TV in the world. @lukehopewell poor form, $10 is a reasonable amount to pay for TV and Movie streaming. It is the perfect amount to keep the pirates at bay. Please don't call Netflix subscribers cheapskates. Double that price for half the content seems a bit much, even though the GUI design is quite appealing.

      Last edited 11/03/14 4:10 pm

      I think you'll find Netflix doesn't include titles as recent as the one's available on Presto. Netflix is at least a year or more behind rental/purchase services (itunes, play, vudu, etc)

        Agree. Most of the Netflix catalogue would fit into the "weekly" category in video store terminology. The new releases they have are not the ones I would watch if it were a pay per view service. Really though anything less though less than 720p for a paid service kills it.

        But Presto doesn't have *any* TV titles, we watch more TV series on netflix than movies really.

      Dude, it's $10.

        To reply to both @jjcoolaus & @monkey_butler Personally as a Netflix viewer I would prefer a larger array of both TV and movie titles to keep me entertained. The release timing doesn't bother me too much especially for films, as I still goto the cinema generally about once a fortnight anyways. TBH I'm more likely to catch up on documentaries and obscure art house films that work well on a TV or computer screen. Blockbusters even on 42" telly don't really do it for me.

        However @jjcoolaus if you have a sweet setup and watch new release films at home regularly this could be for you. Horses for courses, I guess.

        Furthermore @monkey_butler I think $10 is about the right amount of value to spend for this streaming service, it dissuades piracy, accessible to almost everyone and is enough money to service the industry. One would imagine it should have a similar effect moving music torrent downloaders over to streaming music services. Cheers.

          $10 might be a good amount to consumers, but from a business perspective making any profit at that price would be questionable, especially in a market the size of Australia. The cost of accessing these rights is considerable (rights to broadcast football and the olympics are a perfect example) and Quickflix has spent a fortune on rights and is yet to make it profitable.

      Exactly fuck you guy, cheapskate, because I don't want to pay some bullshit price for some poor product!

    They get it alright. They are just trying to see whether they can get "away" with it.

    this had my attention until i saw "fixed at around 480p"

    nope.

      how else are the majority of Australian's going to stream it? with our super slow internet.

        *ZING*

        I would laugh if it weren't so true.

        The same way YouTube does; by giving people the option to watch it in whatever resolution they want.

      +1. 720p (at minimum) should be available for any video streaming service in 2014. Particularly one that costs $20 a month.

      I can't stream at more than 480p, I still think the option should be there for 1080p especially with 4k TVs out there.

    sounds reasonable and i would potentially sign up for this if it has a good range of movies, it needs to get tv shows and needs to offer more than 480p.

    Last edited 11/03/14 2:54 pm

    I'm currently a Quickflix DVD Rental customer and pay them $22.99pm for this. How would this service compare as far as release timing of movies?

    I think it's a good start, and kudos to Foxtel for recognising that their current content delivery model is ridiculously outdated.

    Still, as it stands, I'm not willing to pay more than twice the price for less than half of the content that Netflix has, particularly not at 480p quality. Good start Foxtel, but you're going to have to up the ante if you really want to compete.

    Lol they will allow you to use a Hdmi from your laptop to your TV.
    Wtf is with these clowns.

      Regular foxtel with foxtel go hasn't allowed any sort of external display to be connected to your phone or tablet since it's inception - with a cable or not (plus you can't use foxtel on a phone or tablet at all that has superuser (jailbreak/root) access) - so this is a fair bit more generous in actual fact.

      Still ridiculous in the 21st century though, i'll give you that.

        I hate these people, let them drown and die on greed.

    It adds the TV series from Foxtel like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones (and repeats of Dexter) and I might just be tempted. In the meantime, still sticking with Netflix.

      Netflix doesn't offer Game of Thrones, and for that matter neither does Hulu Plus.

      Welcome to the world of HBO programming where everything is tightly restricted/controlled. (and priced to encourage piracy)

      Last edited 11/03/14 4:37 pm

        That's because HBO has its own content delivery system. So if you want to stream GoT, you have to do it via them (if you lived in the US)

        Correct. On the other hand... Foxtel DOES have the licence to Game of Thrones. So they could do it.

        This isn't a service that competes with Netflix, really. There's a whiff of it there, but it's not competitive. It's just... there. They've turned up with the bare minimum and charged more for it. It's like... someone has carefully explained to them what the competition is doing and what they need to do, but they are completely incapable of controlling this absurd instinct they have to gouge. It's like a muscle spasm, only for a corporation. And instead of flailing or twitching, they skimp on content/quality and gouge on pricing.

        They really need to get that shit under control.

          Their licence almost certainly does not include Internet streaming. Having "a licence" does not mean that they have the licence required to stream on the Internet.

        Pretty sure the president of HBO said he's cool with your sharing your HBO GO password with friends.

    So its 480p on tablets.
    What's the resolution on your PC/Mac?

    What's the audio?

    Seriously, who watches movies on a tablet if they're at home?
    Surely you'd want to put it on your TV and utilise your sound system.
    But if its going to be like Quickflix which is 480p/Stereo (when it launched, don't know what it is now), why would you bother to watch a new movie?

      My guess is its 720x480p (regardless of device) with 192k 2.0 audio. In other words - worse than an NTSC DVD from 1999.

    What is with Gizmodo pretty much trying to advertise Foxtel services and push them all whilst giving backhanded remarks to their readers.

    I had the same feeling when there was the "article" on the new on demand pricing for GoT, which worked out as about the cost of iTunes. If you ignored the subscription costs.

    Luckily Australian law protects consumers right to grey import products if local pricing is untenable, and the MPAA itself has argued for years that it's films are products in order to prosecute pirates, so I have every right to use Netflix.

    Sorry I can't justify spending twice the cost of a subscription for what is likely to be a lesser service. Or should I be doing it to support the company? A company who I despise for using their dominant market position to ream consumers for years?

    No wait, I'm just a cheapskate.

    Still not sold. I'll be sticking to netflix, if only netflix had GoT then it would be the perfect streaming platform for me. Until then I'll have to get my GoT fix in other ways.

    so, 480p.

    are they playing us as fools? seriuosly?

    at least they allow us to use HDMI, as that is what my desktop is connected with.

    but 480p?

    Finally, we're getting somewhere. $20 is a bit steep for only movies, but it's almost a certainty that Foxtel will add TV shows down the track. If and when that happens, I'll most definitely sign up.

    When it launches, Presto will be available on PC and Mac computers, as well as iOS devices Android tablet apps coming later.

    They better not be pulling the "Samsung Devices Only" bullshit they did with the Foxtel Go app for android. That will definitely deter a huge chunk of users.

    New and old complete television series are what would successfully sell an Australian service to me. Plus they would have to match the flexibility offered by Netflix (the ability to stop and restart your account on a monthly basis). I have no problem with paying $20 per month, but they better make sure that I am getting twice the value if they seriously expect me to give up a reliable service like Netflix.

    We are not going to get a service like this for $10 a month in Australia, at least in the short term, since we have a significantly smaller customer base and our local distributors pay more than their US counterparts for rights to content.
    Comparing Australia to the US is not relevant, there are so many factors to why Australia is not the same in terms of services and pricing. One example is comparing prices directly, since the income for equivalent jobs in the US in sometimes significantly lower, so people there may consider $9 a month a lot of money to pay for that content.
    The inference that because the internet exists means Australians should get everything that every other country gets at the same price is actually quite naive.

    Illegally getting a service from the US just to pay less than an Australian service is why using Netflix is considered being a "cheapskate". It will be interesting to see if Netflix will be permitted to continue allowing overseas users to access it's content by using foreign credit cards and VPN services.

    Granted the resolution, ability to watch on a television and lack of tv shows issues need to be addressed for it to be considered a decent local equivalent to Netflix.

      It's not illegal, quite the opposite in that grey importing is protected under Australian law.

      If you want to be technical, it's breaking the services terms of use but those terms of use are in direct opposition to Australian law.

      I'll admit it's a complicated situation, but you can't just toss the term illegal in front of complicated issues you don't like.

      *Cough* Jim Morrison* Cough*

      Beyond that, if it wasn't for high Netflix adoption I don't think we'd ever have seen a service like this out of Foxtel. Competition breeds innovation after all, while monopolies breed stagnation.

        It may not be technically illegal in Australia (and this is by no way a fact, there is no clear definition on this issue), but the situation in the US would be very different. You would be in breach of the DMCA in the US at the very least, which would make it illegal there.
        Breaking the law in another country is still breaking the law.

        In terms of the contravention of Australian law when it comes to Geoblocking - as much as I hate it the rights holders in the US are completely within their rights to restrict this content, since these rights holders do not have the rights to broadcast this content in other countries.

        I guess the point is that Australians somehow having the "right" to access this content is not at all realistic, there are a lot of legal issues, and the internet doesn't suddenly make country laws obsolete. The fact that people are paying for it isn't a justification for it's use.

        Totally agree about the effect of Australians accessing Netflix has done here though, hopefully we will get a service with the right price and features here in Australia eventually.

        Despite it's excellent service, Netflix has become a monopoly in itself, whether it becomes a problem for consumers remains to be seen...

        Last edited 12/03/14 11:08 am

          You're missing the main point, Australian law protects consumers in order to grey import. It's not a nebulous issue that's never been defined it's an actual law. There's no way I could be charged with breaking an American law that contradicts an Australian one while I'm living in the country.

          It's possible Netflix itself could get into hot water for distributing it elsewhere, but as a consumer I am well within my rights. But then again attacking Netflix also seems like pretty shaky grounds.

          If I flew to the US, bought a whole load of DVDs that hadn't been released here yet and flew back should Best Buy get attacked because I used an Australian credit card? The situation is identical, the technologies used are just different which makes it much more economically viable.

          Also, I don't think geoblocking is technically illegal under Australian law. Even if it was, they're doing it in the US where it is legal and they're as safe from prosecution as we are as consumers.

          Lastly, how on Earth is Netflix a monopoly? It's certainly became ubiquitous by being a market leader early on, but it's competing directly with the likes of Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBOGo as well as a number of other streaming network sites. Beyond that it doesn't even have exclusive licenses to most of it's library (Except their original programming and now the Clone Wars), allowing consumers to source them elsewhere.

            Yes there are other services, but Netflix's market share is considerable, and it's traffic accounts for an extremely high percentage of American internet traffic at night.
            When one company has a considerable market share in a market, that's when consumers start to lose out. Apple and Microsoft are perfect examples - they don't own the market, but wield enough influence to affect it in a negative way. Coles are Woolworths are another example - they don't own the entire market but pretty much define it between them.

            I'll concede you make some valid points, but the need to justify using Netflix in Australia is exactly where the problem lies - the practice of downloading content which people technically do not have the right to (whether illegal or not) is a questionable practice.
            The whole point is, people do not have the RIGHT to this content, they simply feel that they are entitled to it somehow, which is akin to a child who doesn't get what they want so they find a way to make it happen.

            When it comes down to it I guess there's few reasons for anyone in the US to do anything about it, since everyone seems to "win" in terms of financial gain. The only losers come to companies in Australia who will attempt to set up a market here, only to fail because they cannot compete with a service overseas that operates under highly different circumstances.

            Last edited 12/03/14 9:08 pm

              The difference with Netflix being a monopoly is they don't have a control over the market (yet), they've just been the most successful in reaching the consumers. Seeing as most of their product is sourced from outside parties who still actually hold the power and many of whom are aiming to actively compete.

              It might have the potential of becoming a Monopoly, but it's far from one.

              I keep disagreeing on your assertion that we don't have the right to. Beyond the law, if I want to go into a store and pay for a product the last thing I want them doing is looking at my address and deciding they don't serve people from my area.

              There's a reason Australian law backs the consumer on this issue and that's because we do have a right to purchase the content at a fair price.

              When did anyone say they had a right to content? People are paying to access a service in a legal manner. If this option is removed, then they will just go back to pirating, which is obviously, not a legal grey area at all. Australian's clearly WANT to pay for content rather than illegally sponging it up. I would say this is the total opposite to a child's entitlement tantrum. It's people recognising that the media we consume and enjoy, costs money to make and that we should support it's producers financially if we want them to continue making the programs we love. I pirated all of GoT so I could watch it straight away and then bought the DVD boxsets as soon as they were released. People will, by and large, do the right thing if the option is there.

    I can handle the price if they include airplay on the iPad app. Otherwise its a joke.

    Android app coming soon huh? I remember that line when Foxtel Go was launched too. The last time I bothered to email them, I was basically told 'ain't gonna happen'. In all fairness, Netflix works perfectly well for me (without the need to pay for a VPN BTW). While some newer stuff would be nice, I don't see the need to double my costs for a service I can't use where and when I want (most of my viewing is via Android devices, either mobile or the box driving my TV.

    I'd be really happy to pay for this, actually. Yes it's more than I pay for Netflix, no it doesn't have TV series, but it is a start, at least!

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