How Streaming Star Trek Chews Through The Data

How Streaming Star Trek Chews Through The Data

No, not that Data. But if you’re a serious Star Trek junkie, you can now stream every episode of the original series, Next Generation and Deep Space Nine on Stan. The costs of doing so however, could be massive.

As Gizmodo noted yesterday, Stan has just added Deep Space Nine to its array of tales of people boldly going where they haven’t before. That’s around 126 hours of Trek, along with 66 hours of The Original Series episodes and 130 hours of The Next Generation to contend with.

All up, if you were to go on the Trek binge to end all Trek binges, you’d be facing down the stiff side of 322 hours of Star Trek, or 13.41 continuous days of watching. Not that you could manage 13.41 days in a row — your bladder would explode at some point — but if you were determined enough to try, how much would it actually cost you?

Over at Gizmodo, Campbell’s contention was that it would cost you $5, because you could knock off that much Star Trek in just under a fortnight, and a monthly Stan subscription costs $10. Sorry, Campbell, but Stan doesn’t sell that way, so your minimum cost is in fact, still $10 no matter which way you slice it. But that’s not the whole story, depending on how you choose to watch — or more specifically the details of the ISP connection you use for watching.

Let’s do the sums, shall we? On a medium quality connection, Stan estimates it burns through 1.13GB of data for each viewing hour, which means that watching every single episode it offers will chew through 363.86GB of downloads.

Now comes the slightly trickier part, and that’s balancing it against the cost of ISP connection fees. If you are sitting on an “unlimited” style account, then congratulations; you’d pay $10 for your Star Trek binge. They’re still the exception rather than the rule, however.

What if you apply them to plans from the current top three ISPs by customer numbers?

On Telstra, you’d need the “L” plan, which comes with 500GB of usage, most of which you’ll chew through just watching Trek. That comes in at $113/month, so you’re looking at $123 for your month of Star Trek watching there.

iiNet’s Home 3 ADSL plan would supply enough data (600GB) for all that Trek at a slightly less wallet-busting $79.95 without phone bundling, meaning you’d be looking at $89.95 for your Trek binge.

On Optus, you’d actually have to go for an unlimited plan, as the next lowest plan down the tier only comes with 200GB of data allowance, meaning that you’d only just get started with the adventures of Benjamin Sisko and chums before you ran out of data. The entry level unlimited standalone plan is currently $90, making it a $100 Trek binge proposition.

By way of contrast, if you wanted to own all of those seasons of Star Trek, a complete run of Deep Space Nine would cost you around $190, as would a complete run of The Next Generation. There’s less of The Original Series, so it typically sells for around $100 or so, making a grand outlay total of around $480 for the set.

That sounds expensive, but if you are in fact allergic to money, there’s a way to make your Trek binge even more costly, all while still only streaming episodes rather than owning them.

All you’d need would be a mobile data connection streaming the episodes. Take, for example, one of Telstra’s XL Mobile Broadband plans, which run to $105/month for 15GB with excess usage charged at $10/GB. Running through every single episode that way would cost you $115 for the plan and the Stan connection, plus a wallet shredding $3490 for the additional data charges, because that extra .86 of a gigabyte would be charged at its full $10 price. That’s $3605 in total.

Which means, for the cost of watching all the Trek episodes that Stan has right now, you could buy a full seven copies of each show in full and still have $245 left in your wallet — enough to buy a single box set of every episode of Star Trek Voyager once as well. But not Enterprise, because why would you do that to yourself?

Lifehacker’s weekly Streaming column looks at how technology is keeping us entertained.

Disclosure: Stan is a 50/50 joint venture between Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media. Allure Media, the company which publishes Lifehacker Australia, is also owned by Fairfax.


  • This is why I stick with Netflix. iiNet internet means all that streaming is independent of your download quota, so I get 100% guilt-free streaming.

    Now, if they could just fix the entire internet connection going to shit at 7pm every god damn day.

      • ADSL. I only notice it because I try to fit in some games when I get home from work, and the lag skyrockets around 7. I get 1000ms lag spikes in Dota, and my ping can spike up to 700-800ms in CS:GO. It doesn’t affect regular streaming or browsing, but it makes gaming an absolute nightmare.

        • You are home from work at 7PM – and so are most families.
          Dinner has probably finished, and it’s time for homework / net surfing for school kids.
          Combine that with adults looking for games / video and you have a serious bottleneck.

          • I agree – the thing is that this bottleneck only became apparent after the launch of Netflix. I have played on this same internet connection for a couple of years, and it’s only in the last few months that the connection has deteriorated around the time that everyone gets home – the only explanation that I can think of is the mountain of extra traffic that netflix has generated.

  • A few issues:

    1. Those costs are assuming you don’t even have an internet connection, eg i already pay $90 or so for my plan which gets me 150gb peak/150gb off peak (damn telstra wholesale port), so thats already paid for
    2. You actually could do it on a Optus 200gb plan, you just have to start it 7days before the end of your current ISP month.

    Not to mention unless your on forced holidays from work/don’t have a job you have lost income as well if you were to binge watch it.

    And since you have to pay the month for stan anyway you may as well take a month to watch it at 12hrs a day which is very doable albeit still mind numbing even for the most hardcore trekkie.

    • It is, admittedly, an intellectual exercise intended to point out that the cost of any streaming service isn’t just within the subscription fee. As such, point 1) is reasonable, but then there’s the opportunity cost of that data — what else could you be doing with it/what would it stop you doing if you did binge this way? You’re still spending money (and could, if you wished, break it down into the percentage of the data cost. But as for point 2), the 200GB plan is currently $80/month, so over two months on the 200GB plan, you’re spending $160 on access.

      Also mind numbing? Yeah. I’ll be over here, watching Doctor Who.

      • So, using your reasoning, if I travel to Los Angeles and buy a $5 trinket as part of my existing holiday, that trinket actually costs (airfare + accommodation + $5)? And add in lost opportunity, whereby I could have used that $5 to buy a lottery ticket, potentially adding $300+ million to the figure? I get intellectual exercises, but you’ve got to be reasonable too.

        • Err, not quite. Say you are spending $3k on return flights, and another $1k on hotels, and you are there for 8 days – that’s $500/day for your holiday. If you bought your trinket while doing something else, say at a shop on the way to a museum, then you are only taking maybe 2 minutes out of your holiday time to buy it, which would account for 69c of your holiday cost.

          On the other hand, if you drove for a day out of your way to get the trinket, and drove a day back to LA, you spent the equivalent of $1,000 holiday time in addition to the cost of your trinket.

          So the time you take out of your holiday, which you can assign a dollar value to based on the cost of the holiday overall, is the equivalent of the data you use. If you have an unlimited data cap, this thought exercise becomes (even more) meaningless – the amount of data you use has no bearing on your monthly data allowance.

          As for the lottery ticket example, in statistics you can assign dollar values quite simply to lottery tickets – say a $300m payout, and a 1 in 8 million (ish) chance of winning – that $5 dollar ticket is worth $37.50.

          • I wonder if that is why all the big businesses actually lose all their money and just run of BS Debt.

      • If you want to cut and dice the numbers that way, surely you should be factoring in the fact that many households are on 24-month Internet contracts, so the cost of binge-watching Star Trek is 24 times the monthly tariff!

        Pointless exercise!

      • Most months i’m under 50% usage , but i don’t drop down because the next lowest plan doesn’t provide enough. So the opportunity cost to me is irrelevant (granted it may not be for some)
        2) since i still hold point 1 is valid (in my case i pay $90 month regardless and i will be doing the same next month its already a spent cost, like included the cost of the car in how much it costs to drive somewhere you have already likely committed the cost of the car / ISP. If your only paying for stan to binge watch trek then its only the cost of stan and any additional fees such as any data packs you may need and electricity costs.

        Watching 360 hours of Dr Who or any other show not just Trek in a month would be mind numbing (especially Matt smith and Peter Capaldi Dr Whos and probably even the originals). In fact having to watch Nyssa or Tegan for more than a couple of hours in a day would have to cause serious mental health issues.

        • You and I are very different people. Which is cool.

          But obviously, this is the point where I shout Blasphemy and organised to have you stoned for heresy 😉

          • If we are very different, i guess you liked Teegan and Nyssas constant whinging and screaming ?

            If i wasn’t so busy id challenge you to see who could go the longest without going insane watching the first 4 seasons of Dr Who (2005) on loop.

            I’ve done the entire buffy and angel dvd collection at 8 hours a day (on top of work) i was a bit of a wreck after it but that was probably all the junk food i ate while watching it.

            (Plus my wife wouldn’t let me 🙂 )

    • And let’s face it – there aren’t all that many people reading Lifehacker who don’t already have an internet connection!

      Really, the only thing that the arrival of Netflix, Stan etc demonstrates is that in 2015, there is in fact already a real need for “ordinary ” people to have a “reasonably” fast broadband connection with a “reasonable” monthly data allowance of at least several hundred GB per month – regardless of whether they want to binge-watch Star Trek, or just for a typical mixed diet of TV and movies.

      And in 2013, Tony and Malcolm couldn’t see the justification for the NBN!

  • I watched the last 2 season of DS9 at the end of last year on Hulu. That is all I was missing from my viwing list. Tempted to go back and watch Enterprise again though as it’s just 4 short seasons.

  • Meh, I have unlimited internet anyway. Though I can’t binge watch shows. Maybe 2 of the same show in one sitting. But I can’t watch a whole series. I’ll have to split it up and in that case it would take me a good year to watch all Star Trek stuff.

  • the big problem is when you want to rewatch a show, and at 1gig an hour you’re looking at 200+ gig a month just for streaming, on top of what you already use

  • What if you wait for the shows to broadcast on FTA, then record them?
    Or rent the DVDs from a video shop / your local library, and rip them to your hard drive?

    The other obvious alternative being a pirate session.

  • $50 a month unlimited ADSL2 🙂 It’s somewhat shitfully slow compared to when I was on TPG … but y’know … TPG is in bed with the Feds and wouldn’t comment publicly (let alone fight against) mandatory data retention before it got passed, so they lost my account after six years or whatever. Like I said … new ISP is kinda slow – but I won’t have to worry about data limits now I’ve got my Stan subscription sorted 🙂

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