Foxtel's latest swing at the streaming market brings together the best of HBO but is it really worth the expense? How does it compare to competitors like Stan and alternatives like Foxtel Now?
What is Binge?
Binge is Foxtel's latest streaming service. It's built on the same technology powering the sports-focused Kayo but instead opts to go all-in on big name original series from International brands like WarnerMedia, NBCU, FX, BBC, Sony, HBO and HBO Max.
Akin to something like Netflix, there are three different pricing tiers to choose from.
That standard tier gets you a single simultaneous stream and a maximum of standard quality. Going to the $14/month tier gets you 2 streams and HD quality. For larger households, there's also an $18/month option that gets you a total of four HD streams.
As you might have noticed, there's no 4K or HDR content here. This is arguably Binge's greatest weakness. Stan, Amazon, Netflix, Apple TV+, Disney+ and others all offer the ability to playback content in these higher fidelity standards and formats.
Another key difference to note here is that Binge is primarily pitched as an aggregator of content, not a producer. You're unlikely to see Binge Original Series anytime soon.
How does Binge compare to the other options?
There are three aspects worth comparing when it comes to Binge and the rest of the Australian streaming landscape. The first is price.
With a starting price of $10/month, the standard Binge subscription tier is on par with the cost of Netflix, Stan and Ten All Access. However, some services like Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Hayu and Disney+ are cheaper than Binge. Others, like Quibi and Kayo, are more expensive.
The most important comparison here is between Foxtel Now and Binge. Which of Foxtel's two drama streaming services is cheaper? The answer is Binge. Foxtel Now relies on a cable-style channel pack model where you have to buy packs of different content. The cheapest you can spend is $25/month and that won't even get you the HBO content you're looking for.
Compared to Foxtel Now, Binge debuts at a much more compelling pricepoint for access to that content. However, the more expensive subscription tiers are arguably less compelling than their Netflix-branded counterparts here due to the absence of 4K and HDR playback.
The second way to compare Binge to the other options is content.
While quantity does matter when it comes to streaming services, quality matters a lot as well. In fact, it's the cornerstone of Binge's pitch. They want to be seen as the streaming service that has Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies and Westworld.
Whether or not they have more or less content than Netflix or Stan will probably affect whether you stick with the subscription service over the long term but, if you're thinking of signing up, all it really takes is one really good show to make that $10/month feel worth it.
How does Binge's 10,000 hours of content compare to the likes of Netflix? Well, the answer to that is both complicated and simple. The size of the content library on Netflix changes from month to month as licensing deals expire and new series debut, so it's arguably impossible to fairly compare the two. Some reports have pegged Netflix Australia's content library at around 5000 titles. However, many of those 5000 titles are series with multiple seasons of episodes.
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Overall, it's unclear how Netflix' content library in 2020 specifically compares to Binge's launch offering but it's safe to assume that it's larger.
The final way to compare Binge to the rest is through features. In addition to offline viewing, which isn't available at launch, Binge users will be able to setup and sort their own "lists" of content they want to watch while the service's recommendation carousels will be curated by real people rather than just algorithms.
Binge also promises to include more than just the final cut of content, with support for behind the scenes interviews, footage and other special feature. How extensive the implementation of this feature goes remains to be seen. Stan and Disney+ have a similar feature but actual usage of it is infrequent and inconsistent.
As mentioned before, the big feature that Binge is missing compared to other streaming services is 4K and HDR playback. Netflix, Stan, Amazon and others have offered this feature for some time and if you own a 4K TV, it sucks that you can't get the most value out of that hardware when it comes watching content through this particular streaming service.
Should you subscribe to Binge?
If you're holding onto a Foxtel Now subscription to keep up with big international hits like His Dark Materials and Westworld, Binge is a pretty compelling alternative. It's cheaper, a lot more simple to understand when it comes to the way that the subscription is structured and ad-free!
In our full review of Binge, we wrote that "If you’re looking for the best value way to keep up with HBO Original series like Euphoria or Succession that doesn’t involve a VPN, Binge is almost painfully-easy to recommend over Foxtel Now. There are no ads and the app will probably meet most of your expectations, even if it suffers from a number of clear shortcomings.That being said, the lack of 4K content and paper-thin backlog of films on the service leave cheaper options like Disney+ or Amazon Prime much more compelling by comparison."
If you're already subscribed to Netflix, Stan, Amazon or multiple streaming services, the question becomes more specific and complex. Do you care about watching the content Binge has that nobody else does? Do you want to be able to jump into Game of Thrones at the press of a button? Are you looking for a reasonably cost-effective way to work through the backlog of HBO shows that everyone on Twitter can't stop talking about? Are you willing to live without 4K playback?
If so, then Binge might be worth investigating or trying in lieu of another middle-tier streaming service. It's not a Netflix-killer and lags behind Stan when it comes to features and volume but it shouldn't dismissed if you've run out of things to watch on Amazon Prime or Disney+ and are hungry for new and more content. For more info on Binge, visit the official Binge website here.
For a full breakdown of how Binge compares to the competition, check out our guide to Australia's streaming services here.
This article was originally published in May 2020 and updated in January 2021.