Netflix vs Stan vs Amazon Prime Video: movies
As with most SVOD services, the titles available on Netflix, Stan and Presto change occasionally according to content licensing agreements. That said, each service has a pretty decent collection of films aimed at slightly different audiences.
Despite what people will tell you about Australian Netflix compared to its US version, the local service has a pretty impressive lineup of blockbuster titles which focus on quality over quantity.
Netflix's aforementioned partnership with Disney also extends to movies, with titles such as Marvel's Captain America: Civil War and Ant-Man ready to stream, as well as animated films like Zootopia and Inside Out.
Netflix has also started acquiring and creating its own films under its Netflix Originals banner, with titles like Beasts of No Nation, Ridiculous 6 and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2: Sword of Destiny already available to stream.
Amazon Prime Video offers a number of classic older films, including Pulp Fiction, Scarface, Jurassic Park, Scream, Serenity, American Pie and more, though nothing too recent is currently available to stream. Its recent Amazon Original film The Neon Demon, for instance, is currently geo-restricted.
Unfortunately, Stan doesn't provide access to any Disney content at all, which does feel like a pretty big hole in its otherwise impressive lineup.
It does however, provide a big selection of Roadshow Entertainment titles, including huge films like Mad Max: Fury Road, The LEGO Movie, The Hunger Games series, Edge of Tomorrow, The Matrix trilogy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy and more.
A content deal with MGM also provides Stan with a large back catalogue of classic films, including the entire James Bond series (minus the most recent addition, Spectre), The Silence of the Lambs, When Harry Met Sally and a huge selection of Woody Allen films.
While Netflix's movie library is more mainstream in nature, Stan is easily the leading streaming service when it comes to art films and world cinema, with its SBS World Movies partnership providing access to films from over 45 countries in more than 70 languages.
Netflix vs Stan vs Amazon Prime Video: streaming quality
All three services offer HD streams (unless you're subscribed to Netflix's lowest tier), however, Netflix is unquestionably the leader when it comes to streaming quality, as it offers the most 4K Ultra HD content (top pricing tier only) of any of the services listed here.
Netflix Originals, with some exceptions, are generally available in 4K streaming quality. The service has also started streaming HDR (high-dynamic-range) content, kicking off with the first season of Marco Polo and eventually adding it to more shows in the near future (though you'll need a smart TV that supports HDR to watch it that way).
The service has an adaptive bit rate that adjusts itself based on the quality of your internet connection. It should be noted that, even if you have a blazing fast connection, Netflix will occasionally fail to reach full resolution during primetime hours due to congestion.
Stan also uses adaptive bit rate technology, however it also offers users the ability to select the streaming quality of its shows (where available). The high setting offers full 1080p resolution, the medium setting offers 720p resolution, and the low setting offers up a standard definition stream.
Unlike its competitors, Stan allows users to select the quality of their streams on smart devices, media devices and smart TVs. Simply select the cog icon and choose between Low, Medium and High quality streams. This is especially handy if you're having buffering problems or if you're streaming off mobile data.
Though it's not available yet, Stan has announced that 4K streams will be coming to the service in 2017.
With Netflix adding offline viewing to its subscription price, allowing using to download a selection of shows and movies to their devices for viewing outside of Wi-Fi networks, the service immediately increased its overall value.
Thankfully, Stan has followed suit, and now allows subscribers to download the vast majority of its content. This makes its $10 monthly price point even more of a bargain than it already was.
It's hard to determine which resolutions Amazon Prime Video currently offers, as the app hasn't really been made officially available outside of iOS and Android. Browser lets you watch in SD or Auto, which doesn't necessarily mean HD, though HD streams do appear when watching shows on Xbox One. In the UK and US, Amazon is much more forthcoming about its streaming qualities, advertising 4K HDR content. We will have to wait and see what happens when more device support is officially added for Prime Video in Australia.
Though each service has its own strengths and weaknesses, Netflix is unquestionably the winner when it comes to device compatibility, original content and stream quality.
Its library of Netflix Originals continues to grow and maintain a generally high level of quality, with the service producing the kind of content that gives HBO a run for its money when it comes to premium programming.
When you ignore its standard definition pricing option (and we ignore it pretty hard around these parts), Stan's flat $10 subscription fee is definitely more appealing for people who want access to a HD stream, but when you consider how many original shows Netflix produces, a couple of extra bucks a month is hardly a deal-breaker.
Though it's great that Amazon Prime Video has made its way to Australia, it still has a long, long way to go in terms of growing its content library and list of compatible devices. At present, unless you're a die-hard fan of the Top Gear boys, the best reason to sign up is its new exclusive series, American Gods.
Thankfully, the service is quite inexpensive at the moment, so if you want to try it out for yourself anyway, you can do so without breaking the budget.
Still, when all is said and done, there's no denying that Netflix truly is the king of streaming media in Australia.