With Foxtel’s sport siphoned off to the Kayo streaming service, the appeal of Binge is access to the other content kept behind Foxtel’s paywalls. Like Disney+, this is a library play. There is Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies, His Dark Materials, The Walking Dead, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and enough Real Housewives to keep the most ardent devotee of squabbling satisfied. If you’ve never had access to Foxtel, then the list runs deep.
But does it fully duplicate Foxtel? Only some, for instance, of Foxtel’s current drawcards are available on Binge. The half-dozen episodes of the 1970s feminist drama Mrs America that have so far screened on Foxtel are available, but there’s no sign of Run, the shape-shifting HBO limited series, or Belgravia, the new English period drama from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. For viewers who want the latest shows, that will be an issue.
The outlook for children is spotty. There are a selection of titles, but without a stand-alone section they are difficult to find. It wasn’t clear to me if it was possible, despite some effort, to set up certain profiles so that they only had access to G or PG-rated shows. It’s one of several missteps that suggest Binge was rushed to market after Foxtel recently resigned its valuable licensing deal with HBO. Another unwelcome absence is that of closed captions on English-language programs.
Binge will give Foxtel a foot in the streaming door, but it’s likely that instead of taking customers from Netflix or Apple TV+ it’s Foxtel that will be cannibalised by bargain hunters. The new service, which is probably not the last new commercial hub debut we’ll see in the next 12 months, will further extend the choice for audiences. At some point we’re going to reach the breaking point of too many streaming services for the market to absorb. That will be quite the drama to watch.
Stan is owned by Nine, publisher of this article.