Over the last year or so, there’s been very little stability within UOA student life. So far, because of COVID restrictions, we’ve had major disruptions in everyday campus life, wavering guidelines for exams, assessments and practical studies, and very little financial support from the government. At the best of times, student life is often unstable; housing, internet, work, money, and relationships can all be subjects that induce anxiety. However, on the days when internet connections do stabilise, streaming services and the content that they host can offer comfort for some students. With such a myriad of platforms available though, the choice can become very overwhelming, very quickly.
Craccum surveyed a portion of the student body’s interest in streaming versus traditional TV during lockdown. Unsurprising, 95% of students contributing to the poll said that they preferred streaming services in their consumption of content. In another contest, students exhibited a strong preference for Netflix over any other platform.
One student said that, though they felt conflicted, they were won over by the sitcoms available on the site: “Honestly, Disney+ and Netflix are tied but I’ve been using Netflix more because of New Girl and The Office.” They also noted a particular dislike towards NEON, suggesting that the shows the platform hosted were not worth the price tag.
Another student explained that the convenience of Netflix was a big draw: “I always have the app on my iPad and I can easily download what I want to watch at someone else’s house or on public transport if I’m out.” They expressed some confusion towards using another platform, stating, “Disney+… some of my friends have it and, as much as I love a classic Disney movie, I can’t see the point in it other than an occasional watch and it’s very expensive.”
The social aspect of streaming was also brought up by a student, who said, “I think Netflix-partying is really good, a great way to talk to your friends during lockdown, but I wish I could see their faces. It’s a comforting way to talk to your friends about a movie, especially when we’re stuck inside.”
Interestingly, a few students noted some corresponding frustrations with the limitations of streaming services. One said, “I wish Netflix had older shows that you can’t find easily online. I wish I didn’t have to survey so many streaming services to find the things I want to watch. Maybe I’d like to be able to actually buy a movie and keep it, instead of paying monthly for services.” Echoing this sentiment, another noted a big downside being, “[paying] for multiple services to get what I want to watch. I have Netflix and Disney+, there are a few things I really want to see but they’re on Amazon Prime or NEON. Paying for another service isn’t in my budget.” Several students also noted frustrations with the pay-for-access model that many streaming sites utilise, stating that they would rather buy for keeps (especially because the access to films on platforms like Netflix was not consistent).
To hopefully soothe some of the frustrations that come with using streaming services, here’s a list of the best and worst services available for use in Aotearoa, for UOA students. Entertainment can become a sponge in your budget, so it’s important to squeeze it out and make sure you’re soaking up the best stuff. Or the worst, if you’re into hate-watching. The Kissing Booth makes for some exquisite, exasperating entertainment.
Netflix seems to be the platform that pioneered the new model of our TV viewing habits. It was home to some really popular, ‘must watch’ shows in its early days, making a name for itself with heavy-hitters like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Stranger Things. Though, most would agree that there has been a drop off in quality within the last few years. However, Netflix is the service that has something for everyone; there’s kids stuff, prestige stuff, and action stuff. It also has some of the worst, laziest stuff, but that can also be great for a mean-spirited, drunken watch along.
It’s pretty rare that Netflix alone will quench your thirst for content, mainly because of the way content pops on and off the platform. The increasingly competitive space of online streaming also means that there are more quality shows popping up on other sites, so you can be missing out if you only invest here.
6/10 – Steal it from literally anyone you know, who needs FOUR profiles?
$12.99 monthly (up from $9.99)
Though Disney+ only launched in 2019, the streaming site has quickly captivated a large section of the market. The company has muscled their way in with their vast, deep archives (developed through their various hostile takeovers), first dropping their more nostalgic flicks, then some of their Fox acquisitions, before their most recent debut with Star (a channel for more ‘general entertainment’, aka things that do not sit well within the main brand). Disney+ easily eclipses any other platform in its pop-cultural relevance; it’s home to Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, capital D Disney, The Simpsons, Avatar, the Aliens franchise, Titanic, basically any media icon a Buzzfeed listicle might celebrate. With the recent price tag jump, Disney+ is pretty pricey but if you’re someone heavily invested in mainstream pop culture, it might be worth it for you. The app is kind of ugly though.
6/10 – These points are for Moana and Ratatouille.
$8.99 monthly (with a 7-day free trial!) or 1 year free with the purchase of an Apple device
Apple TV+ has a really interesting collection of films and shows available, filling in quite a few of the blanks left between the last two platforms. There are a good few music documentaries, alongside some okay dramas and some pretty funny comedies. You are also given the option to rent and buy films on the app, but that feels pretty cheeky on top of your monthly costs. It’s nice that it’s free with your new Apple products though, seeing as they cost you an arm and a leg.
4/10 – There’s a show with Chris Evans in suits, being a good dad.
$13.95 (with a 14-day free trial!)
Topping the chart in terms of cost (unless you’re balling out on your Netflix subscription), Neon is a very strange platform. It gets a good few drama series and blockbuster films, and is the only way to watch Euphoria in NZ, but is highly overpriced. This is a site where you should really exploit the free trial.
3/10 – Does anyone remember Astro Boy? That’s on here lol.
$8.99 (with a 7-day free trial!)
An offshoot of Jeff Bezos’ empire, Amazon Prime sneaks in with some surprising bits of deliciousness. It hosts some original content, as well as some really great indies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have enough bulk to fill out its services. It’s got the best Andy Samberg movie though.
3/10 – And Bezos’ wallet grows.
Free! (Or individual costs for films)
This is often the last resort platform for streaming. Usually, time on YouTube is spent zombie staring at beauty gurus, drama channels, celeb interviews (no hate, it’s fun as), before stumbling on some lovely video with a bit of genius in it. When it comes to actual films, YouTube does have a good few that help to fill in the gaps. However, they range massively in price from about $2.99 up to $24.99 in most cases. Often, there’s also a bit of shadiness in the potential quality… sometimes you can pay to watch and then end up with a film at only 720p.
4/10 – The algorithm is scary and keeps recommending me Logan Paul movies.
Free! Like, completely!
There are no tricks to this one. Sign up with your email and you have complete, unrestrained access to the best that TVNZ has to offer. There’s a surprisingly good selection online, boasting titles like Normal People, We Are Who We Are and Hunt for the Wilderpeople alongside sillier, ageing sitcoms.
One student actually gave a special shout out to TVNZ On Demand too, stating that they were impressed because the service is free and has “good, binge-able content. I’ve been watching a lot of old Scrubs recently.”
7/10 – It’s free, but you pay by watching some extremely obnoxious ads.
There’s a really wide range of content available on Māori Television On Demand, channelled into categories like kai, art, comedy, news, sport, haka, and documentary. It also indicates the amount of te reo within each programme, making it a really helpful tool if you’re in the process of learning the language (and want to do some studying that doesn’t really feel like studying). It’s almost home to the most local content, beating out TVNZ by volume easily. Unfortunately, like TVNZ, there are a lot of ads that buffer in the would-be breaks, and the archives are not quite as deep as they could be.
8/10 – This service is so free, you don’t even need to put in an email.
Free! Alongside your incredibly expensive uni fees!
The URL for Television and Radio should be tattooed on the heads of first years. As an extension of the uni website, there is a deep archive that catalogues a long history of films, shows and documentaries that have screened on NZ television. This makes it a prime location for finding content that has its feet on the soil of Aotearoa, unlike most other services. The archives are much deeper than many others, probably because it’s collated for *academic* reasons. You do have to skip through ad breaks, but it’s a small price to pay.
8/10 – Don’t forget you have access! I can’t count the amount of YouTube movies I’ve bought without realising I could’ve finally put my art degree to some use.
So, make sure to exploit your free trials, parents, flatmates and exes. If all else fails, there’s always the high seas. Just take out the big ships and leave the small ones alone. Arrrrgh. Hoist the sails! A pirate’s life for me.