We are only a few weeks into 2015 but the video streaming wars have already begun with earnest in Australia. There are several contenders, all purporting to offer extensive movie and TV catalogues, to view at the flick of a finger or click of a button.
So I was excited for the launch of Stan, a newly launched SVOD streaming service for the Australian market. Stan is a joint venture between the broadcaster Channel Nine and media conglomerate Fairfax, and one of the three strongest contenders for a major slice of the video streaming market locally.
For the past several months, Brightcove has worked with Stan to get the service up and running, and it has been extremely exciting to see a small Australian development team manage to do in several months, what those with global resources (and much more money) have taken years to make.
In my opinion (and with rave reviews from consumers thus far), Stan has succeeded in becoming the best video streaming service to date. From day one, it has a rich catalogue of TV shows and movies from James Bond to The Fall (a personal favourite). It’s easy to sign up and use, and has a vast array of compatible devices, from the iPhone or iPad, to genuine Android devices.
Using Apple’s AirPlay or Google’s Chromecast technology, you can easily flick the content to your Apple TV, media dongle or other home theatre devices on your TV. In my experience, the service performed flawlessly. This is effectively week one of the service, mind you, so I expect Stan will build on this strong base, ensuring as many devices and web browsers are compatible with the service as soon as possible.
Though there have been a few video streaming services over the years in Australia, none come close to the quality and experience that Stan offers. You can watch the TV shows or movies on Stan’s catalogue in 1080p high definition, with 5.1 surround sound; something that some of the rival services currently can’t boast about.
HD Video and 5.1 surround sound is something that I believe will really progress video streaming passed a fleeting fancy, and make it a must-have in everyone’s homes over the coming years. It’s why we have strived to make this kind of viewing capability available through Brightcove’s Zencoder technology, used by publishers and video services around the world.
The biggest barrier to any video streaming service is, as always, the user’s internet bandwidth, and while some may have complained about slightly degraded quality due to their connection, while holidaying near Byron Bay over Christmas, I used Stan (early release, beta version) on my iPad perfectly over a 4G mobile connection. That’s not something I would do daily, of course, or I’d be paying thousands of dollars in data bills, but I was very impressed with the quality and adaptability of Stan to give me great content in a regional area.
As Stan evolves, its content will undoubtedly grow and its service will only get better. I’m excited to see what is in store for the future, but for now, I think Australia has delivered a home grown, world-class streaming service.