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Foxtel Presto review

A solid start, but not quite magic

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Our Verdict

A great start for an Australian Netflix rival, but needs some time to expand beyond start up phase


  • Good range of films
  • Great user interface


  • Limited hardware support
  • Only streams in standard definition
  • No TV shows at launch
  • No Airplay

For years now, Australians have looked longingly across the waters of the Pacific, green with envy at services like Netflix and Hulu, longing for a decent local competitor.

While services like ABC iview and SBS On Demand have offered Australia a solid way to catch up on free to air TV, complete video-on-demand services have been somewhat lacking.

Although it offers services specifically for subscribers, Pay TV operator Foxtel has tried to fill the gap with the launch of its latest video-on-demand service, Presto.

Working to compliment Foxtel Go and Foxtel Play, Presto offers users access to Foxtel's massive movie library, with streams available from all of the service's movie channels.

Foxtel Presto review

It also offers a rather large on demand movie database, with titles broken up by genre for easy discoverability, as well as trending lists and curated collections for simpler browsing.

But for streaming enthusiasts hoping for this country's answer to Netflix, prepare to be disappointed. While Presto has many, many things working in its favour, it also has many shortcomings that make it hard to justify its $20 a month asking price.

Signing up

Foxtel is a company built on getting people to subscribe through a relatively painless process, so it's a surprise to find that the act of getting started on Presto is somewhat drawn out.

In order to begin watching movies via the internet on Presto, you have to first create an account - just your standard first name, last name, email and phone number form, with some T&C agreements and date of birth confirmations thrown in for good measure.

Foxtel Presto review

But instead of handing over your credit card number at the same time, in order to start watching straight away, you have to wait for the activation email, activate your account, and then hand over the 16 digits before you can start streaming.

It seems to be an unnecessary two-step process. You do get the ability to add shows to your watch list in that hazy purgatory between being a member and a subscriber, but that does seem like small consolation.

Of course, it's also only a minor annoyance, so we'll stop complaining and move on to the good stuff.

The experience

Make no mistake, Presto is an intuitive, simple service to use.

Available via a web browser on a PC or Mac, or via an iPad app, there's a real limit to where you can actually watch streaming content through the service, but given it's only just launched, we expect an expanded lineup of compatible devices over the coming months.

From the web browser side of things, once you've signed into your account, you can access the entire suite of movie channels and on demand movies within a few mouse clicks.

Foxtel Presto review

The top of the page is made up of your navigation and search bar, allowing you to begin browsing by channel, genre or search for a particular title.

It also houses a shortcut to your watchlist, allowing you to quickly navigate to the films you've already indicated you wanted to see.

Just below the bar is a massive carousel filling up the bulk of your screen and pointing you to the most recent featured content.

Foxtel Presto review

If you scroll down, you'll see a series of collections, which seems to change every so often. Expect to see things like "New to Presto", "Star packed Adren-a-thon", "Animation fixation for kids on vacation" and others along those lines.

Each category has four films on display, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating adjacent to one of them. Hover over any film cover, and you'll see a more detailed synopsis pop up, along with a classification and general film information like runtime and release year.

From this window you can select to watch a movie straight away or add it to your watch list for later viewing.

The iPad app has a similar user experience. Down the left hand panel is a nav bar that offers shortcuts to search, discover, watch list and the live-streaming movie channels, plus settings and community options.

Foxtel Presto review

There are more options on the screen in the iPad versions, making browsing a bit easier. In lieu of a pop up, the movie information slides out on the right hand side of the screen, offering the same synopsis, review and classification rankings.