I Want To Love Binge But It’s Missing Two Key Features

I Want To Love Binge But It’s Missing Two Key Features
Image: Foxtel

Foxtel’s new streaming service, Binge, has now launched and it packages together everything we want in a streaming service — great content, ease of use and most importantly, affordability. While it’s got everything going for it, there’s two crucial features missing at launch that make it a tough sell for me.

Binge is now available for fans of HBO and FX content but its huge library means there’s enough to cover anyone’s tastes. My first few scroll-throughs showed an impressive range of content and while my preference is definitely for the quality HBO library, there’s plenty else to watch if you want to take a break on serious dramas.

It comes with a familiar feel for anyone who’s a veteran streamer, looking and behaving in a similar way to Netflix, Disney+ and perhaps, a little better than Stan.

My biggest gripe with Foxtel’s existing platforms was — apart from how many there were — they weren’t easy to use and they weren’t affordable. Binge addresses both of these things and for that, I love it.

But while it has almost everything going for it, there are two big omissions that will be hard to overcome — a lack of closed captions and no PlayStation app.

The first point is a lot more serious than the latter given it’s an accessibility issue. I personally have a preference for subtitles because my hearing isn’t excellent and having subtitles serves up as a convenient backup for when I mishear characters. For those diagnosed as hard of hearing, however, that means they miss out on using the platform completely given both subtitles and closed captions aren’t available.

Lifehacker Australia has contacted Binge to see if there are any plans to introduce closed captions in the works and it confirmed it would be available “very soon”.

As for content not in English, I’ve only tested Apocalypto in my quick run-through, which had hard-coded subtitles. I assume other films with dialogue in languages other than English will have the same but that’s yet to be verified.

My other major issue with Binge so far is its lack of PlayStation support. I realise this might not be an issue for anyone with a smart TV or Chromecast or AirPlay capability but since I have none of those, the PlayStation 4 is how I stream 99 per cent of my content.

PS4 has a dedicated section for all your streaming services, which includes Netflix, Stan, YouTube, Disney+ and even Foxtel Now among others. It gives you a roundup of the latest and, for those signed up to more than one service, can help you decide which service you’ll browse. Easily switching between the services on a single platform is essential and if an app isn’t available or doesn’t work, it drops off my list. Out of sight, out of mind.

When the Amazon Prime Video app abruptly stopped working for weeks on my PS4 late last year, I decided to unsubscribe until it was fixed. SBS On Demand also hasn’t been supported for years either, coinciding with a sharp drop in me watching the great content available on it.

A Binge representative said it was in talks with Sony regarding an app for PS4 and that it’s in the pipeline but an exact timeline is not clear.

Yes, I could set up my laptop and hook in a HDMI cable to get around it but that’s not the point. I like being able to quickly switch between my subscriptions to see what’s available and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Also, setting a laptop means losing the ability to use a remote, which is the antithesis of a lazy, couch binge.

Streaming is all about convenience and accessibility. We no longer have to venture out to a store or scour the web for questionable sites in order to watch that hard-to-find movie. Binge will still get my attention for now — it’s a shiny new toy after all — but it’ll need to introduce those key features soon before it loses it.

How Binge Compares To Netflix And Australia's Other Streaming Services

Binge is Australia's newest streaming service and in order for it to avoid a flop, it needs to offer something substantial given the existing competition. With Netflix and Stan holding the lion's share of subscribers in Australia outside of Foxtel, let's see how Binge shapes up to them.

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  • I am mystified as to why SBS on Demand content mostly has Closed Captions (except for movies!), but the captions aren’t available until you have passed the first ad break – and you can’t fast forward or rewind until after the first ad break!
    The only way I can watch these shows (I also have difficulty hearing modern dialogue in real life – some people should come with subtitles!) is to run them while I go and make a hot drink, hang out the washing or fill in the time getting caught up (in both senses of the expression) with Facebook and emails), then rewinding to the start.
    I can understand that they (SBS) need you to be exposed to the advertisers that make the service possible, but making CC’s unavailable without the above faffing around will lose my support – I’ll tape the shows and watch later – my PVR allows me to zip through the ads, too.

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