Edward Swift - Comparing online streaming services

Publish Date
Friday, 19 September 2014, 12:00AM
File photo (ThinkStock)

File photo (ThinkStock)

Author
By Edward Swift

Over the last few months, we’ve heard a lot about video streaming services as new players entered the New Zealand market. With a number of great choices out there, we’ve compiled a quick guide of the good, the bad and the ugly of these new streaming services.

Lightbox

Pros

  • Has plenty of great TV shows ranging from hit shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Masters of Sex, to older shows like Seinfeld and Little Britain.
  • Available to stream TV shows on PC/Mac, iPad and on your TV using a cable or Apple TV.
  • Also boasts some exclusive shows including Vikings, Black Sails and Outlander.
  • Not just for adults – plenty of kids shows available too.

Cons

  • There are a number of hit TV shows which will already be locked up in exclusive deals, especially hit shows like Game of Thrones which is in Sky’s deal with HBO (more soon on that).
  • They have an extensive back catalogue, but it appears sometimes the most recent season of a show is unavailable.
  • No app for iPhone or Android devices at this stage, nor is there an app to install on smart TVs.
  • Only TV shows – no movies available on the platform.

Ease of use

  • Really easy to sign up and get started. Simple interface and easy to navigate.

Cost

  • $15 per month. The first 30 days are free, and there are special deals for Spark customers. Unlimited streaming.

Video Ezy On Demand

Pros

  • Plenty of movies available to view/rent and purchase, including new release titles such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
  • A very wide range of full TV series also available for purchase.
  • Movies and shows are available to play on all manner of devices.

Cons

  • Not every movie is available on every device. i.e. Noah was available to watch on a smart TV or streamed using Chromecast, but not on PC/Mac, iOS or Android.
  • TV shows can only be purchased, as well as some movies.
  • Quite costly if used a lot – seems like going to the video store may be cheaper.
  • Once you rent a title, you have it for 30 days, but when you start viewing it, you only have 48 hours to watch it (though you can watch it as many times as you like in that 48 hours).

Ease of use

  • Easy to sign up and seems easy to get content. Content on iOS and Android devices is streamed in their app.

Cost

  • Free to sign up. You pay per title you rent or purchase. Renting a movie is usually $6.99 in standard definition and $7.99 in high definition. Buying a movie usually costs $24.99 in standard definition and $29.99 in high definition. TV series can also be purchase at around $3.49 per episode.

TVNZ On Demand and 3Now

Pros

  • Hit TV shows available on demand after they’ve aired on TV.
  • Some TV series are available online before they are broadcast on TV here (i.e. Orange is the New Black
  • Plenty of local Kiwi-made content available.
  • Available on PC/Mac as well as iOS and Android devices via an app.

Cons

  • Episodes of most shows have a limited life and are taken offline weeks after their original broadcast.
  • Ads.

Ease of use

  • Both are easy to search for programmes and navigate.

Cost

  • Free – the only cost is the time spent watching ads.

Sky On Demand service

Sadly we don’t know enough about this service yet. What we do know is…

  • It is due out before the end of the year.
  • It is a standalone system and will cost extra on top of the Sky subscription.
  • You don’t need to be a Sky subscriber to get it.
  • It’s likely to have HBO content on it (i.e. Game of Thrones).

Netflix

Pros

  • Thousands of movies and TV available to stream on demand.
  • Available on PS3, Wii, Xbox, PC, Mac, Mobile, Tablet and more devices than any other streaming provider.
  • Netflix also produces original TV series like House of Cards and the final season of Arrested Development.

Cons

  • Not available in New Zealand yet. Users either need to access it using a virtual private network (VPN) or be an Orcon or Slingshot customer using “Global Mode”.
  • Using it in a country that they don’t service is against their terms of use and if they find out you’re actually based in NZ, in theory they could terminate your account.

Ease of use

  • Once you’ve signed up and logged in it’s easy to use. If your ISP offers global mode it certainly makes it easy to access it. But if you don’t and have to go through the steps of setting up a VPN, it may put some users off.

Cost

  • Plans start from US$7.99 per month.  Add to that another US$8 per month - the cost of a VPN service - if you’re not on Global Mode.