Shame on you Stan, shame on you Australia.
In the video streaming wars you have the king sitting on the iron throne: Netflix and then you have everyone else fighting for their chance to sit on the throne.
In Australia we have Netflix, we have Presto, we have Foxtel, Foxtel Go and we have Stan. I have been a subscriber to Netflix since it launched, I tried Presto and found it to be too expensive, Foxtel is a relic of the past and Stan is somewhere in between.
I have been trialling Stan for the last 3 months now and it is personally very disappointing. What appealed to me about it was the fact they exclusively had the latest season of Better Call Saul. But what is the point of having an exclusive if it is barely watchable?
The problem with Stan is buffering. While my connection is not the greatest, I sync at 18mb and save for local area congestion, it is fine for most things. Even if you have a strong connection, in my experience Stan will still buffer. Buffering is unavoidable with Stan.
Buffering on all VOD services is expected given the sad state of Australia’s internet infrastructure at the moment. However, I am able to watch Netflix fine. I get the occasional loading screen, but in most cases I see buffering on Netflix because of congestion or someone in the house is using up the bandwidth.
To kick Stan further while it is down, I watch Netflix via a US VPN to get access to a bigger catalogue of content and it still buffers less than Stan does. How is this possible? How is it my traffic can be funneled through to a server in another country and back, but still work better than Stan?
And then to top it all off, when Stan buffers it just freezes. There is no loading indicator that appears like you see on Netflix. Your TV show or movie just freezes. The first time this happened, I actually thought my Fetch box froze up, so I reset it.
The freezing is one thing, but when it freezes, it doesn’t even always resume from where it froze, but rather just skips. I regularly watch a TV show or movie and see it pause to buffer, then it starts playing from an entirely new scene and I am left to wonder what the heck just happened in those lost skipped seconds.
It seems everyone who uses Stan encounters the buffering issue at some stage. For an Australian company you would think they would optimise their network traffic for Australian viewers, less network roundtrips should mean there is no latency to stream. I think Stan needs to fire their network administrators or the company handling their streaming traffic.
The problems with buffering are one thing, but then there is the lack of loading/progress indicator when buffering comes into play. Whatever you are watching will just freeze and resume once enough has loaded.