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

    Fixed at 480p, signup required just to browse, twice as much as Netflix and no free quota agreement even from Telstra (who own 50%).

    This must be why it's called Presto. Watch Foxtel make this rabbit, and whatever credibility they had, disappear.

    Last edited 12/03/14 11:14 am

    It could be the best service in the world, I don't care. Foxtel burnt its bridges long ago with its anti-consumer practices and exclusive deals to trap you into their subscription fees. Will not touch this company, ever.

      The sad part is Foxtel used to be OK. But this was back in the 1990s when there was also Galaxy which was virtually the only other competition.

      When Galaxy collapsed Foxtel became the only major provider and this has gone unchallenged for nearly 20 years.

      Last edited 12/03/14 12:05 pm

    Couple of questions, didn't read the comments so apologies if it's already been answered.

    Is it a download and watch type scenario, or is it streaming?
    Can you pay for a month at a time, or do you need a x month subscription?
    And movies only by the looks of it?

      Streaming only, you have to sign up for a subscription, movies only, and it looks like SD resolution only.
      So... yeah... sounded good but then really it sucks arse.

        Thanks poita.

        And yes, you're right, it sounded like a feasible option. As much as I'd rather burn my cash than give it to Foxtel, if a simple solution presents itself I'll investigate it.

        Streaming only, so I'll be buffering for 40 hours if I want anything of any decent quality. 720p would probably my the maximum that I'd attempt, and even that's a push over my connection, it just wouldn't work. SD only means my internet will work, but I don't want to watch movies in SD, nobody does.

        Subscription means that I won't even give it a trial. I'm not interested in being locked into anything.

        Overall it looks about as good as Telstra's new mobile plans.

          To be fair, you are not locked - it's a month-to-month subscription. SD sucks big time, though...

    How can they ever compete when a person can pay about $50 per month for true a unlimited ADSL plan. Pay a private torrent tracker $1 per month for unlimited ratio and get every TV series ever made, new shows within 30 min of it screening on US cable and in 1080p, every movie as it comes out in full HD and never watch an ad ever again. Not that I would do something like that but hey there are some out there that disconnected their TV antenna's over 15 years ago and haven't missed a thing. I suggest If your not prepared to make the effort to source content then don't complain about the crap your offered through mainstream sources, pay your $20 per month on top of your internet cost and suck it up buttercup.

    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....

    seriously. so paying less money for more content makes you a cheapskate?

    wow i cant wait to sign up for the SD movie only Foxtel streaming service! GET IN LINE!

    Last edited 12/03/14 2:09 pm

    Hey! I'm not a cheapskate, I'm poor. ~275 p/w with zero government allowances says that $20 is just too expensive. Especially when rent is $200 a fortnight.

    1.2mbps. 480p. I have enough trouble watching standard definition crap on free-to-air TV. A lower resolution than that would be unimaginably bad.

    I'm aware that many people don't have fast internet or HDTVs, but catering for only the lowest common denominator is sheer insanity. The option for a high bitrate 720p/1080i/p stream should absolutely be there.

    This will make it truly useful, as long as they fix the bitrate and resolution:

    http://www.smh.com.au/business/google-may-embed-foxtels-presto-videoondemand-service-20140213-32nav.html

    I don't see any reason to give up pirating. It's too expensive. It's not HD and worst of all, I don't trust foxtel. They will start to exlude things, start charging more. Foxtel are dogs. I will never give them a cent. I hope Murdoch dies a horrible death and his family incinerates in a car accident.

      Careful with the Karma. Regardless of what Murdoch is, if you think bad thoughts about anyone bad things will come back to get you.

      Besides, News Corp is only a half owner. Telstra owns the other half and it is doing everything it can to ensure it's outdated copper network has a hyper inflated worth.

    Move on, nothing to see here.

    Call me when they get it right

    I fail to see why anyone in their right mind would use this instead of Netflix. Worse price, worse resolution, no TV shows... need I go on?

    If they have a partnership with Disney, how come there are only a few Disney animations available?

    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.
    HAAAAAAAAAHAAHAAA WTF It will allow me to use a HDMI cable!! thanks foxtel

    Getflix + Netflix + putting a 9 before your Australian postcode when Netflix asks (could be after, I forget, did it a year ago using Unblocker) = the best online video/tv viewing experience for me personally, so far...

    "Presto" is just another rip off movie streaming service. The only "Free" movies are old BAD ONES that nobody wants to watch any longer and you have to pay for newer movies. They have such a complicated log in, password, system that constantly drops out that it is way too irritating to use. I am 60, wanted to watch an "R" rated film and couldn't because my husband couldn't remember the access code (parental safety thing) to protect younger views from watching. Kids can get free porn whenever they want on the internet why make it so hard for adults to access ordinary R rated movies on Presto? Going to cancel because it's a waste of $$$

      P.S. I am 60 years old. The movie I was trying to watch (but couldn't because of the STUPID ACCESS CODE my husband wouldn't give me!) was "Zack and Miri Make a Porno". I've seen this movie before and it has less explicit sex in it the most movies that are free to air on SBS! Most of the sex is suggested and is no more explicit then sex you see in most free to air movies and TV shows! Who is doing the censoring and rating for Telstra "Presto"? Do they even watch the movies they rate? It seems they were hired from a 1950's censorship board. Maybe transported into our time via a time machine? I would describe this movie as a farcical romantic comedy. It really is a love story. I think it is not pornographic at all.

    P.S. I'm DITCHING TELSTRA "PRESTO" AND BUYING ALL MY MOVIES ON DVD FROM NOW ON! >:O(

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