The Ultimate Guide to Streaming Online

  • What Is Streaming and How Does It Work?
  • How To Watch Movies via Online Streaming
  • Which Movie TV Streaming Service Should I Get?

Guide to Streaming Online

Welcome to the age of Streaming. Chances are, if you haven’t been living under a rock, you have in one way or another streamed either a TV Show, Movie or your favourite Tune on one of the nifty digital devices that you own. In today’s article, we bring you the Ultimate Guide to Streaming. We will be covering everything you need to know about it, from which streaming service you should get all the way to which broadband provider will offer you the best streaming experience for all your entertainment needs. Without further ado, let’s get stuck into it.

What Is Streaming and How Does It Work?

You probably are already aware of what streaming is, but let’s have a brief look into the definition of streaming and how it works. Streaming, by definition, is content that is sent in a compressed form over the Internet and displayed viewers in real time. When streaming video or any types of media, you do not have to wait for hours to download a file in order to play it. Instead, media is sent in a continuous stream of data straight to your computer and is played in real time, as it arrives. Unlike progressive downloads, you don’t have to worry about your computer or device getting clogged up with downloaded data, as with streaming, data is automatically deleted once you are done watching a film or listening to a song. This is one of the great advantages and most appealing aspects of streaming in today’s modern world. Other forms of highly popular streaming include Live Streaming, which is specifically used for internet content delivered in real time as it happens. Live streaming is very popular with live television shows and special one-time events - think for example, of UFC fights or many other sporting extravaganzas. 

How To Watch Movies via Online Streaming

First of all, in order to immerse yourself in the glorious world of online streaming, you are going to need a streaming compatible device. Chances are, you already own one! Most people these days have purchased Smart TVs (Samsung/Apple TV/Roku), making it a piece of cake to stream videos whilst you laze on the couch after a hard day of work. Don’t own a television? Fret not. Other possibilities when it comes to enjoying your favourite movies online are Tablets (iPad/Samsung Galaxy Note), Laptops, Desktop Computers and Gaming Consoles such as the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One.

Last but not least, should you not own any of the mentioned devices, you can rest assured knowing that you will be able to stream content if you own a smartphone. The screen may be a little smaller than what you would ideally prefer, but you will still be able to stream nonetheless. Most of these devices mentioned above come with applications such as Netflix and Stan already installed into the system, making it even easier for you to access your favourite shows and music with just one touch.

Next up, you’ll need to ensure that you have access to an internet connection. Whether this is a WiFi connection at home or a 4G plan with your phone service provider is entirely up to you. It is always advised that you do some research into your broadband or mobile data plans, in order to ensure that you have sufficient data and that streaming movies or music will not send you over your monthly limit, thus incurring extra fees. We will touch on this a little more throughout the rest of this article.

Last but not least, to stream, you will need to be signed up to a streaming service. Whether that is Netflix, Stan, Foxtel Play, Spotify, Apple Music or Pandora, you will need a subscription in order to access your favourite shows and music. Let’s have a closer look into that in the next chapter.

Which Movie TV Streaming Service Should I Get?

First up, let’s hone into Movies. Movies are, by far, one of the most streamed forms of media online. When it comes to streaming movies, there are a few main contenders in the game. Which one is best for you? Well, that is highly dependant on your needs, preferences and taste in shows. Below is a summary/comparison of the three most popular Movie Streaming services available to us in Australia at this current moment.

1. Netflix

Once just a company that used to provide DVDs by mail, Netflix is now a household name. From your Smart TV to your Tablet, PC, Laptop or even Smart Phone, Netflix is accessible on multiple devices. For those who want to test the waters before making any commitments, Netflix offers a trial period of 30 days free streaming, enough for you to suss out if their range of entertainment is to your liking.

A Basic Netflix subscription costs $8.00 per month, whilst a Standard subscription and a Premium subscription will cost you $11.99 and $14.99 a month, respectively. Netflix houses a library of up to 1200 titles, with 200 or so of those being TV shows as an added bonus. The entire library hours available exceed the 5000 hour mark, ensuring that there is always something for you to tune into. Netflix also racks up a reasonable 3+ star review on Product Review, with the main frustration being the unavailability of some US Netflix shows on the Australian platform. 

2. Foxtel Play

Foxtel Play, a subsidiary of Foxtel, is a service that streams Sport, Film and TV shows, along with linear play TV channels. A portable version of an actual IQ box Foxtel subscription, Foxtel play can be streamed on devices such as the Xbox, PC, Tablet, Mobile and on Smart TVs, ensuring that you will be able to watch all your favourite shows wherever you go. This is great for people who want a Foxtel connection but do not have a TV at home, or simply do not have the time to watch TV.

Foxtel Play costs are tiered by genre and may range anywhere between $30-$55, depending on the number of channels you subscribe to. Like other streaming services, there is a trial period available for all to test the service out, but this only lasts for 2 weeks. There are about 3000 library hours that clock in on Foxtel Play - certainly more than enough to keep everyone entertained. On the downside, Foxtel Play does not rank the best on Product Review, with many complaining about subpar streaming and sound quality, errors in the app itself that make it lag, and difficulty navigating through the application. One of the perks, however, is that you can sign up to sports channels and watch the Footy or EPL live - features that other streaming services are yet to currently offer.

3.  Stan

Last but not least, we have Stan. Stan is available on most devices - from your Smart TV, Apple TV and PC, all the way to your Mobile Phones and Tablets - similar to Netflix and Foxtel Play. Stan will set you back a reasonable $10 per month, with no lock in contracts involved. Just like Netflix, you will get a 30 day free trial, so you can really see if the shows offered are to your taste, well before actually committing any money to it.

Titles on Stan add up to 1250, with 7000 odd hours of entertainment available, all in HD. Shows such as Twin Peaks, iZombie and I’m Dying Up Here are also exclusive to Stan. Rated slightly lower than netflix on Product Review, Stan comes in at 2 stars with one of the main complaints being that the application tends to freeze, or is often offline at times.

Which Music Streaming Service Should I Get?

Next up, let’s look into music streaming. Gone are the days where you had to sit down and wait for hours for file transfers or for your favourite album to download into your MP3 player. Music is something that is available instantly these days, with the number of streaming services available at our fingertips. Let’s look into which music streaming service may be the best for you.

1. Spotify

You’ve probably heard of Spotify - the online music giant. In fact, they were the very first to offer a completely free service via their ad-supported option, and this ended up being what hooked so many people onto online music streaming to begin with. Since it's launch Spotify has added heaps of new features to improve user experience, such as being able to download music for offline listening. This is ideal for those who don’t want to constantly be using their mobile data to stream their favourite music on their commute to and from work everyday.

Spotify also has an auto-generated 'Discover Weekly' playlists what is a great way of finding and exploring new music. Spotify might not have the best music quality or the special exclusives that some of other big music streaming services offer, but Spotify does indeed offer one of the most polished streaming services out there, which is probably why they are so incredibly popular with people all around the world.

Price wise, you can choose to listen for free, or sign up to a Spotify Premium account which will cost you $11.99 a month. There are also family and student pricing options. If you're a student you can get access to a 50% discount, and Spotify has also recently introduced a family option, allowing up to six users to enjoy the benefits of Premium for just $17.99 a month!

2.  Apple Music

The next online music giant is of course, Apple Music. Apple Music is home to huge amounts of music, with an extensive library and some really great features. The Radio feature gives you access to Apple's live Beats 1 radio as well as other curated stations. Connect is Apple Music's social feature for "connecting" with artists and curators; and My Music gives you access to your library.

Curation is a massive part of Apple Music, and definitely a very attractive aspect of Apple Music. When you first start using the platform,  you will be asked to select some of your favorite genres of music and artists. Based off your answers, Apple Music will suggest a playlist in the 'For You' section of the app, which be listed as playlists and albums. This way, you don’t have to waste too much time adding thousands of songs to your playlist - let the application do it for you. Another bonus perk is that you’ll find playlists that correspond to the day, time and season, ensuring you have appropriate music for all occasions.

Price wise, Apple Music costs $9.99 a month but students can join just $4.99 which is an absolute steal. Family memberships are also offered and those will cost you $14.99 with gives unlimited streaming for up to six people. Unlike Spotify, however, Apple Music doesn't have a free tier which may turn off some users. Instead, a three-month trial is offered to anyone who wants to test run the car before buying it, but don't forget to cancel it before your it expires as this will roll over into actual monthly payments automatically.

3. Pandora

Our third and final contender is Pandora. Whilst the other services on this list are considered to be music streaming services that allow you to pick exactly what you want to listen to, Pandora is more like the internet version of a customised radio station. Just like regular car radio, you don’t have too much of a say in what song is going to come up next. You just anticipate, listen and enjoy. This is probably most appealing for those who are not too fussy with their music, or who don’t want to spend too much time creating playlists for themselves.

One of the downsides to Pandora is that their collection of music is nowhere near as large as that of Spotify’s or Apple Music’s. However, if you're looking for something to throw on at a party, Pandora is your best bet due to its ability to keep the beat going with only minimal intervention.

In terms of pricing, it is absolutely free to sign up and if you don't mind an ad or two every 10 minutes or so, will stay that way as long as you use it. If ads aren’t your thing, you can subscribe to Pandora One to for $4.99 a month.

How Much Data Does Streaming Use?

The amount of data that streaming uses is something that is very important to know. This will help you choose the appropriate broadband and mobile data plans, in order to ensure that you do not go over your data limits at any point. Below is a summary of how much data some of the most popular streaming platforms use. Take close note, as this will definitely help you prevent any crazy excess fees from your mobile or broadband provider.

Netflix: General data usage is 0.7 GB of data per hour for standard definition video. For those who enjoy HD streaming, you will be looking at 3 GB per hour for HD video and 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD video. If you subscribed to Ultra HD on Netflix, you are looking at a usage of 14 GB when streaming a 2 hour movie.

Stan: If you are streaming videos on low quality, you’re looking at a data usage of 0.57 GB per hour. For medium quality streaming, those digits are bumped up to 1.13 GB per hour, and 2.89 GB per hour for HD streaming. Keep in mind that the default setting on Stan is set to HD streaming.

Spotify: The highest quality you can stream music on on Spotify is 320 Kbps. At this level, you will be consuming 2.40MB of data per minute, equating to a usage of 115.2MB per hour. Reduce the quality to 160 Kbps will result in a drop to 1.20MB of data usage per minute and a grand total of 72MB per hour. With music streaming, it is good to keep an eye on how many hours you are going through a day as they can add up very quickly.

Apple Music: On Apple Music you can listen to music at qualities of either 64, 128 or 256 Kbps. In that order, this means that with every 1GB of data, you will be able to listen to either 36, 18 or 9 hours of music on this app.

YouTube: Many of us watch videos on YouTube on a daily basis. On YouTube, for every 1 hour of 720p video footage (the quality at which most of us view videos on) you watch on YouTube, you are using up about 2.2GB of data.

Which Broadband Provider Is Best For Streaming?

Last but not least, let’s look into some of the best broadband providers if you are an avid streamer. We would advise that those who truly love streaming music and movies opt for Unlimited Broadband Plans, to give you peace of mind and ensure that you aren’t going over any limits. Below are some of the best Unlimited Broadband Plans available at the moment.

Belong

Belong is a fantastic broadband provider that offers users with unlimited data plans at on a Tier 1 connection, for just between $45 - $70 a month, depending on whether you are signed up to a lock-in contract or a month-to-month subscriptions. If a Tier 1 speed connection doesn’t satisfy you, you have the option upgrading your  Belong Broadband plans to Tier 2 or Tier 5 speeds for an additional $10 or $30 respectively.

MATE Communicate

All of MATE Communicate’s plans come with unlimited data - ideal for those who love streaming. All their unlimited plans are also available to people at differing price points, For just $59 a month, you can purchase unlimited data with Mate at a the industry average Tier 1 speeds of12Mbps. Upgrades to your speed are also available with added costs - 25Mbps for $69, 50Mbps for $89 and 100Mbps for $99. Furthermore, Mate’s plans are lock in contract free and do not cost you any activation fees, so that you can keep your expenses to a minimal

TPG

TPG offers users with three of their unlimited plans (NBN Fibre Basic Liimitless, NBN Fibre Boost Liimitless and NBN Fixed Wireless Boost Liimitless) that will cost you $59.99, $69.99 and $79.99 per month respectively. In terms of unlimited broadband that can be shared between housemates and families, these plans are highly affordable for what you get out of them. Additionally, TPG offers Boost and Superfast plans that are ideal for streaming movies and TV shows. All plans, Standard, Boost or Superfast, are are available with no lock-in contracts, or as part of an 18 month deal.

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We hope that his handy guide to streaming has answered all the questions you may have had. Have any enquiries? Don’t hesitate to contact us today.