Monday, January 30, 2017

Presto goes poof!

We never intended to have three subscription streaming services.

When we first got to Australia, we had none -- well, no legal ones anyway. We still had our American Netflix subscription, but we had to connect via VPN, something they had yet to crack down on. Then Netflix entered the Australian market and we could just use it without any adjustments to our account -- only an adjustment to our expectations, as there was a significant disparity between the amount of available content.

We signed up to Stan for reasons I can't fully remember -- cheap price, available content, it being an exciting new Australian-owned venture, something like that. And indeed it made a useful complement to Netflix, especially once Netflix got hip to the use of a VPN and blocked access to the American-only content.

Presto was meant to be a very targeted, very short-term relationship on our part -- in fact, I think we only meant to use a month's free trial and then drop it. It seems strange to recall it now, considering how much we ended up liking the show -- not very much -- but we got Presto primarily because it was carrying Mr. Robot. We thought Mr. Robot was going to revolutionize our lives, I guess. It didn't. In fact, it took us months to even get around to watching the final episode of the first season.

Needless to say, that meant we kept the service, in part because we ended up watching plenty else on it. In fact, it seemed to be getting better new/recent releases than either Stan or Netflix, and it had a number of shows my wife wanted to binge as well. (She's the TV binger of the family while I'm the movie binger.)

However, in just two days it's going poof!, maybe not as suddenly as it arrived, but with as little a trace as before it was in our lives.

We've gotten a good six weeks of warning, hence the lack of suddenness, but yes, it's leaving the Australian landscape and making our streaming lives a little less complicated. It struggled to gain momentum originally, and then it kind of did, but then they decided to subsume its offerings into the Foxtel cable service, probably in an attempt to make Foxtel even more dominant than it currently is.

I'm a little sad to see it go.

Yeah, I've had my fun at Presto's expense -- it never felt like it was ready for primetime, either in terms of its presentation or its browseability -- but the truth of the matter is, I've used it for movies as much as I've used Netflix for movies lately (though Netflix has greater overall viewing time because of its original content). And when I heard it was closing its doors on February 1st, I had a list of relatively recent releases that still felt like "good gets" that I wanted to watch first, among them Legend (2015 version), Rock the Kasbah, The Theory of Everything and 45 Years. (I didn't say they were "great movies," just "good gets.")

The one of those that most qualifies as a great movie, probably, is 45 Years, and I did indeed squeeze it in before the deadline. Didn't love it as much as it was hyped, but it gets a solid four stars from me.

Why the "squeeze"? Well we've also been plowing through the most recent completed season of The Walking Dead, which seemed like another "good get" for the service. It wasn't necessarily what we wanted to spend most of our Christmas season watching, but at least now it's late January and we're almost done with it. (Last episode is tomorrow night, also the last night of the existence of the service.)

Enforced consolidation does seem like a good thing, though. To speak of the "limitations" of any streaming service is to forget the hundreds of available movies on each that you haven't seen. And now that my 2016 film watching is over, I can choose any of those hundreds of available movies on Netflix and Stan.

As for Presto in all its purple-hued glory ... we'll wish it goodbye by looking back to when it was just saying hello:

And in case we get lonely with "only" two streaming services ... well, Amazon Prime just made its big Australian debut last month, opening a whole new can of worms.

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