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Australian catch-up TV services compared

With all the major Australian free-to-air broadcast TV networks now offering a catch-up TV service, we give you the lowdown on what's available.

It's been seven years since ABC brought its iView catch-up TV service to Australia and since then the field has expanded. Now all the free-to-air networks have a catch-up TV service, each with a pretty wide range of content on offer.

But not all catch-up TV is created equal, so let's have a look at how you can get your non-linear TV fix these days.

SBS On Demand


What's on offer? SBS's impressive On Demand service brings together SBS, SBS 2, NITV and World Movies, as well as exclusive streaming content.

It's a significant offering and the recently redesigned service boasts over 4,000 hours of content. The killer point of difference compared to the rest of Australia's catch-up services is the mammoth number of films: At the time of writing there were 643 movies available on SBS On Demand.

Included in this are a number of full season offerings and even curated content collections -- the current examples include Essential Documentaries, Festival Favourites, French Connections, Warm and Fuzzies and Get a Room, a collection of "international stories of human sexuality that leave little to the imagination."

What can I watch it on? SBS says that On Demand is supported across more than 20 different platforms. This includes Apple TV, iOS, Android and Kindle devices, as well as a wide range of native apps for Smart TVs, gaming consoles and set top boxes such as Fetch TV and Telstra T-Box. A full list can be found here.

How much data will I use? A 60 minute video can use up to 675MB of data at the highest quality stream.

What's the catch? Very little. SBS has done a remarkable job with On Demand and the recent redesigns and commitment to cinematic offers made it even better. If we're forced to find a fault it might be the lack of a data-free ISP partner: 643 movies could really put a hole in your data cap.

ABC iView


What's on offer? iView offers catch-up from all ABC channels (that's ABC, ABC 2 ABC 3 and ABC Kids) as well as live streaming from ABC News 24 and some content exclusive to iView, branded as iView Presents. The main ABC channel also started live streaming through iView (both on the app and the iView website) from December 1, 2015.

Most of the shows are available straight after traditional broadcast for 14 days, but some don't expire for as long as 30 days. Most shows are available an hour after broadcast but can take significantly longer. At the moment, the ABC News 24 stream only works on the website and in the tablet and smartphone apps.

What can I watch it on? ABC iView has apps across iOS and Android for both tablets and smartphones, as well as a dedicated Apple TV app. It has an extensive range of native apps for smart TVs and support for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3 and PS4. The app is also available on Telstra TV as of December 2015. The ABC has a full list of supported devices here.

ABC also offers iView catch-up integrated into the FreeviewPlus service, as well as support for Chromecast and AirPlay.

How much data will I use? A 60-minute program will use up to 300MB. However, the ABC works with ISPs to try and offer the website version of iView as an unmetered service. The following ISPs currently provide iView at no data cost: AARNet, Adam Internet, Apex Telecom, BarNet, Cinenet, Comcen, Dreamtilt, Engin, IIG, iiNet, Internode, iPrimus, My Telecom, Spectrum Networks, Spintel (on some plans) and Westnet.

What's the catch? It's hard to pick too many faults with iView. It's had since 2008 to get its game going strong and doesn't suffer from the same commercial advertiser requirement of some of the other services. That said, HD options for at least some shows would be a great next step.



What's on offer? Plus7 is a mix of all the Seven Network channels, being 7, 7 Two and 7 Mate. The website also helpfully breaks out any 'exclusives' that might be available -- including a few of Yahoo's own original programming -- plus TV Snax, a selection of thematically related short videos.

This includes a mix of single recent catch-up episodes, more extensive offerings and even some full seasons. It's worth noting that for some shows, Plus7 has limited rights, meaning you might find a show that can only be watched via the web interface as opposed to the mobile or tablet apps.

What can I watch it on? Plus7 has iOS and Android apps, as well as apps especially for Samsung mobile devices and Apple TV. It's also available on FreeviewPlus, although the Plus7 FAQ curiously avoids saying FreeviewPlus in favour of HbbTV.

Plus7 has a T-Box and Fetch TV app, as well as support for Xbox One and PS4, plus select Sony and Samsung smart TVs. More compatibility information is available here.

How much data will I use? Plus7 says it offers adaptive streaming, meaning you'll get the best quality your bandwidth can handle. But it also means it's hard to give exact figures but offers that a 22-minute show will run you between 45MB and 160MB, while a 42-minute episode will consume between 90MB and 370MB. This suggests a fairly low-quality video offering.

What's the catch? The usage rights could be a problem for people who want to watch on their devices and the website itself is not the easiest to navigate.

9 Jumpin


What's on offer? Channel Nine's catch-up service has some limited episodes of shows that Nine has broadcast rights to, as well as a more extensive catalogue of originally produced series. So, for example, you'll find three episodes of the US show "Arrow," but you can also while away your life with nearly 430 episodes of "The Block."

You'll also find previews and info on shows that aren't offered on catch-up, as well as news, sport and the ubiquitous TV guide.

What can I watch it on? In addition to watching via the Jumpin website, Nine also offers an iOS and Android app and integration via FreeviewPlus.

How much data will I use? According to Jumpin a 22-minute TV show will use up 300MB and a 42-minute show will take about 600MB. You'll find the exact size of any episode listed in the show information, rather helpfully.

What's the catch? There's a lot that Jumpin does well. It's easy to see what shows have catch-up episodes available and how many eps you've got access too. Probably the biggest sticking point is the lack of smart TV apps, as well as no support for Chromecast, Apple TV or Airplay.



What's on offer? Tenplay collects the available catch-up video from Ten, 11 and One. It combines this with additional information such as a TV guide with a reminder system, news, sport and additional bits and piece such as recipes from shows, competitions and the like.

Like the other commercial networks, Ten doesn't have the catch-up distribution rights for all of the shows it broadcasts. When it does, these tend to only be available for around 7 to 30 days. Ten says that on average, shows that it does have the online rights for will be available for 30 days.

What can I watch it on? Tenplay has apps for iOS, Android and, surprisingly, Windows Phone. Native apps for Windows 8, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Fetch TV and Sony Bravia TVs from 2012 and later also exist. You can also get Tenplay via a FreeviewPlus-enabled TV. Get a more detailed compatibility list here.

How much data will I use? A Full HD program will use approximately 1.6GB per hour, and a SD one will eat about 585MB per hour.

What's the catch? If you're browsing through the programs, it can be hard to tell which shows you can watch episodes of and which is just a collection of clips or information.

Update, December 14 at 4:40 p.m. AEDT: Added details about the arrival of iView on Telstra TV.

Update, December 16 at 10:08 a.m. AEDT: Added details about SBS On Demand on Apple TV.

Update, December 21 at 11:15 a.m. AEDT: Added details about Plus7 on Apple TV.