‘UNTURNOFFABLE’: A Review of Binge

It seems like not too long ago that all we had to worry about was convincing our parents or partners that Netflix was a sound investment for the future of our own personal entertainment and pleasure.  Almost everybody was indulging in the convenience of an advertisement-free streaming service, accessible from the lounge room TV or anywhere your smartphone went with you.  Those who didn’t have Netflix were begging, borrowing and saving up as much as they could so they too could experience the multitude of films and television shows Netflix was constantly serving up.  

Oh, if only we could return to a simpler time.  Now, audiences are oversaturated for choice when it comes to entertainment.  Free-to-air TV remains a staple of the household, most major networks having developed their own streaming websites and apps to keep up with the demand for readily accessible entertainment.  Netflix remains the premium choice for ad-free entertainment globally, but several streaming competitors have come onto the scene offering the same service, albeit usually for a different collection of shows and movies.  If it’s not on Netflix, it’s probably on Stan.  Or Disney+ or Apple TV+ or Amazon Prime Video…

Or perhaps it’s on Binge!  Australia’s newest streaming service encapsulates, perhaps not the purpose of on-demand entertainment, but definitely what consumers use it for: the all too popular pastime of binge-watching.  Binge joins the Foxtel family, alongside Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports which are decidedly more sports and news oriented.  Binge is more affordable than its sister services but about on-par with its main competitors, Netflix and Stan.  This is perhaps too expensive, given that the service is not currently equal to its competitors in terms of quality and what it can offer audiences.  

Binge does not yet offer the ability to download its content for offline viewing, meaning that unless users have steady connection to WiFi or a massive amount of data, it’s harder to use the streaming service on the go.  The streaming quality is SD or HD depending on how much more users are willing to pay, but there isn’t any 4k content yet.  Binge’s big selling point is that it has the largest library of HBO shows, which includes fan favourites such as Game of Thrones, Big Little Lies, Westworld and Veep.  However, there still is not near as much content as there is on streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, meaning those who genuinely do intend to binge-watch everything on the platform will run out of content much quicker.  

Another noticeable absence from Binge is its exclusive content.  The key appeal of streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, Stan and Amazon Prime is that they each host exclusive content they themselves commission or produce.  Netflix Originals are unlikely to ever be available on DVD, TV or on another streaming service, meaning that for those who want to watch Stranger Things, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or BoJack Horseman there is little else to do but subscribe.  Without exclusive content, Binge’s appeal is not quite as strong as there is nothing which audiences gravitate towards that they ultimately can’t access elsewhere.  

So what does Binge offer to audiences?  As mentioned earlier, they offer easier access to popular HBO shows for a start, which could be a big appeal to fans.  Current Foxtel Now users who don’t care for sport and news content would also find switching to Binge a budget-friendly way to access all the shows and movies they love.  As most streaming services rotate content, Binge might have shows and movies that can’t be found on a different platform to saturate a TV craving.  It’s also important to support Australian industries where possible, which means conscious audiences can benefit knowing they’re doing just that when subscribing to an Australian streaming service like Binge.

While this article may seem fairly critical of what Binge has to offer in comparison to its competitors, it should be noted that the service is quite new and if Foxtel invests more time and consideration there is potential for it to become a premier streaming service.  For those who are eager to see what Binge has to offer, there’s a 14-day free trial available and no lock-in contract.  If you’re looking for a quick fix of some enjoyable entertainment and you have some spare time, why not binge?

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