Entertainment | Tech and Innovation |

A brief history of Australian television: from black-and-white to streaming day and night

By Luke Hopewell July 29, 2020

“Good evening, and welcome to television”. Those were the first words uttered on Australian television airwaves in 1956. For 64 years, we’ve been laughing, crying and shouting at our televisions. The stories got bigger, as did the screens, and everyone has their own show. This is how we got here.

Before there was streaming; before TV had profiles, and before anyone knew what 4K even meant, there was the simple idea that good, entertaining and informative content could be beamed into people’s homes via the airwaves. As we celebrate the launch of BINGE – Australia’s unturnoffable streaming service and home of premium, award-winning content – we wanted to look back at just how we got to this place of incredible small-screen storytelling. Find out how you can get a year of BINGE on Telstra.

Welcome to television

Bruce Gyngell was his name.

The man who spoke those warm and welcoming words to Australians on September 16, 1956. At 7pm, he appeared for the very first time, even credited as the “First Host” on the screen.

He wore a suit and a bowtie, and viewers in Sydney and Melbourne were warmly ushered into a new age of modern information and entertainment.

Television was more than just a fly-by-night fad, however. Australians had been shown the possibilities of wireless images beamed into their homes at a number of demonstrations over the previous two decades.

Experimental transmissions were happening in Brisbane back in 1934, and others around the nation were able to see local demonstrations of television in town halls throughout the country in the 1940s.

Demonstrations aside, however, come September of 1956 not everyone was able to see Mr Gyngell welcome them into the future.

At the time, a television cost hundreds of pounds – back when Australia paid in pounds, of course. By the 1960s, you could still expect to pay the equivalent of $6000 for a 23-inch black and white set for your home. While some TVs still cost that today, you can expect to get a whole lot more for your money.

So, instead of watching from home, many gathered outside store windows to watch the future come to pass. Hundreds congregated under a sign outside the famous windows of Myer in Melbourne Emporium which heralded the arrival of television. That very set is now on display as part of an exhibition of Myer’s history.

The golden age

The next decade saw Australian television go through an incredible golden age. Australia’s TV legends were minted in this time, and many of them are still with us today.

Graham Kennedy, Bert Newton and more came to delight Aussies in their homes every night. Their class popularised television formats we still enjoy today, from quiz shows to talk shows and everything in-between.

Sport and sport analysis came to our screens thanks to World of Sport (later Wide World of Sport), and AFL games were televised for the very first time.

As the price of televisions slowly fell and more sets landed in homes, Aussies were enjoying the collective experience of content. Sports matches were enjoyed together set against the backdrop of the Aussie barbecue. Serialised shows were discussed over the water cooler. We came together to experience defining moments in our history.

The power of television was truly demonstrated in 1969 when man first set foot on the Moon. NASA struck a deal with Australia to help broadcast from the Moon, live, through Australian equipment, including the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station just outside Canberra and the Parkes Radio Telescope in regional New South Wales, as well as the control facility in Sydney owned by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission – Telstra before Telstra.

After the lander had returned home, and several more missions had been broadcast for the world to see, television saw its next great shake-up in 1975 when colour burst onto screens for the first time. It was so revolutionary that it had even been announced by Prime Minister William McMahon three whole years earlier.

As Australia was late to the game on colour, many cashed-up households had already started buying colour televisions as early as 1969. But it wouldn’t be until mid-1975 when the Pakenham races were broadcast in colour that Australians first saw the new dimension of television.

After that, they were hooked. Television was everywhere, with Aussies buying colour TVs faster than just about anywhere in the world, thanks to the availability of content.

The internet, televised

The 1980s and 1990s saw Australians import a flood of television content from international audiences. Everything from Blind Date and Perfect Match through to Jeopardy! and international sport all got a run on the Aussie airwaves.

We also exported a good chunk of television, with the ever-popular exploits of Ramsay Street and Summer Bay (Neighbours and Home and Away, respectively) captivating audiences from the 1970s to this very day.

The 1990s brought with it an explosion of international news content, as the first Gulf War was televised day and night via channels like CNN. Aussies would be able to receive this programming for the first time as subscription television like Austar and Foxtel came to town, offering nearly 60 paid channels compared just a handful on free-to-air.

It wasn’t until after the turn of the new millennium that Australian TV would change forever all over again: the internet had come to change television as we knew it.

Late-2006 brought with it our incredible Next G network, that allowed for 3G broadcasts that put television in people’s pockets. With our long-time partner Foxtel, we helped launch Foxtel by Mobile: 33 channels of live news and entertainment, optimised for the small, small screen. The service exploded, and users were limited to just 200 minutes of viewing per month at the time.

This was one of the first instances of the internet coming to television. But it certainly wouldn’t be the last.

Free-to-air players would soon have their own platforms that would slowly evolve to bring more and more entertainment to audiences over the top of traditional broadcast television services, just as services like Netflix and Stan opened for customers.

By 2018, Netflix had over 10 million users in Australia, spurred on by a mix of original content and the ease of access from devices like the Telstra TV. With the Telstra TV, you can consolidate your streaming services into a single box, and unlike TVs in the 1960s, it wouldn’t cost you 5x your average weekly wage.

In fact, the advent of cheap and available services and devices has led to an explosion in content consumption. With hundreds of millions around the world now able to watch content, there has been a new golden age of content.

Creators like the minds behind Game of Thrones, Chernobyl, and Veep now have the latitude to produce movie-quality content for the small screen. This premium content can be consumed just about anywhere via just about any device.

The idea of “channels” no longer dictates viewing habits. Everyone has a favourite streaming service and everyone has their own show.

Australians are now untethered from their lounge rooms, with the ability to watch content on the bus; on the beach with our fast new 5G offering on selected plans with a compatible device in a 5G coverage area. Telstra is rolling out 5G in selected areas.

More content, less cash

With the launch of BINGE, this movie-quality TV content is available more readily than ever. With BINGE, you get more flexibility and access to entertainment both at home and on the go, without having to pay for the content you don’t watch.

BINGE and Telstra Plus go hand-in-hand to get you the best TV on offer. As part of our unmatched sport and entertainment product mix, we’re offering customers* three months access to BINGE Standard on us, while members of the Telstra Plus loyalty program will be eligible for between three and nine months additional complimentary access.

That means if you’re an eligible Telstra Plus customer, you could have up to a year of BINGE content just waiting for you to sign up.

BINGE has three different subscriptions to choose from and customers can change between them whenever they need, plus cancel any time.

To start, BINGE Basic is $10/month, streaming in standard quality with one stream at a time. Step up to BINGE Standard for $14/month and you’ll be able to stream in HD quality on two screens simultaneously, and BINGE Premium ($18/month) is for family households with HD streaming and four streams at once.

Wherever you are, welcome to television all over again.

*excl. prepaid and business customers

Things you need to know

BINGE Offer: 3 months BINGE Standard subscription available to Telstra customers with a consumer post-paid mobile or home internet plan. Redeem by 18 Jan 2021 through http://hub.telstra.com.au/BINGE or on a Telstra TV.

Telstra Plus bonus months: In addition to the BINGE Base Offer available to you, Telstra Plus Members are eligible for an additional 3 months. Silver Tier members are eligible for an additional 6 months and Gold Tier members are eligible for an additional 9 months. Redeem through http://hub.telstra.com.au/BINGE.

BINGE Standard monthly fees (currently $14/mth) apply after offer period ends unless you change or cancel. Offer can be applied to: BINGE Premium (for $4/mth during offer period) or BINGE Basic (for $0/mth during offer period). After offer period, standard monthly prices apply (currently BINGE Premium $18/mth, BINGE Basic $10/mth), unless you change your pack or cancel before the end of your offer period.

Billing: Not compatible with any other BINGE offers. Not compatible with some third party billing platforms. Telstra billing not available for existing BINGE subscribers on another payment method. One redemption per customer account. Requires internet & compatible device and sign up to BINGE Terms of Service. Data charges apply.

Kayo Sports: Offer available to new & returning Kayo customers on a Telstra consumer post-paid plan. Eligible customers must sign up through http://hub.telstra.com.au/kayo or on Telstra TV. Standard monthly fees apply after offer period unless you cancel. One redemption per customer account. Not available in conjunction with any other Kayo offers. Redeem by 30 September 2020. Requires internet & compatible device. Data charges may apply. Event availability correct at time of publishing and subject to change.

Telstra Plus: Must be 18+ with an active service. Excludes enterprise and corporate accounts. Points are earned on payment of Telstra bill or pre-paid recharge (excl. outright purchases, refunds, credits & late payment fees). Points expire 3 years from earning. Marketing opt-in required (preferences can be changed). Exit program anytime. 

My Brilliant Friend - BINGE - Telstra TV
Entertainment |

Which of these 8 types of BINGE watcher are you?

By Ryan Dunn July 2, 2020

With the launch of Australia’s unturnoffable streaming service, BINGE, you might suddenly find yourself wondering what kind of binge-watcher you are – and what content you should get stuck into to satisfy your appetite. Whatever your tastes, there’s something for everyone to stream on BINGE. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started. And Telstra customers can get up to 12 months access on us! Find out how.

The “better late than never” binger: Game of Thrones

If you’ve ever been shamed by your friends for seemingly being one of the few people in the world who hasn’t watched HBO’s juggernaut drama series, then BINGE is here to fix that. Perhaps you didn’t get on board early enough and decided it was just too late? Or maybe you’ve heard about (or seen clips of) the dungeons and dragons and decided it wasn’t for you? Either way, I’m here to assure you you’re missing out! At its heart, Game of Thrones is a brilliant political drama – and an extremely watchable one at that. Amidst all of the ruthless scheming by those vying for control over the seven medieval kingdoms, there are edge-of-your-seat fights, loads of witty banter, genuinely shocking plot twists and more than a few raunchy scenes to get your heart racing. Don’t give up on it if it doesn’t grab you right away – stick with it for at least the first five episodes and you’ll find you won’t want to stop until you reach the end of season eight.

The “I know I shouldn’t laugh but I can’t help it” binger: Guilt

Nobody does a crime thriller quite like the BBC – and this one has a surprisingly dark comedic bent. With only four episodes, it’s also remarkable how many twists it takes in just four short hours – and even more incredible that it can make you laugh with each increasingly disturbing turn. It all begins when Scottish brothers Max and Jake accidentally run over and kill an old man on their drive home from a wedding. Jake, the younger of the two, wants to do the right thing and call the police. But Max, the smooth-operating lawyer knows they’ll be going down for their crime – and convinces his brother to try covering it up. Managing to carry the body back into his nearby home, they find evidence the man was terminally ill. Without any noticeable damage, they think they might just get away with it. That is, until Jake realises he left his wallet behind – and returns later to the scene of the crime to find the victim’s niece hosting a wake.

The “make me terrified” disaster drama binger: Chernobyl

A drama series that notches the tension all the way up to twelve, perhaps the most horrifying thing about Chernobyl is that it actually happened. In April 1986, the eponymous nuclear power plant in Ukraine suffered a disaster of unimaginable proportions. During a routine safety test, the reactor caught fire and exploded – in an uncontrollable event that spread nuclear fallout into the surrounding city and eventually across the Soviet Union and Europe. Given the political system in place at the time, and the relative ignorance about the dangers of atomic energy, the reckless response from leaders was to downplay its severity – putting their careers and the party ahead of the safety of the people. Until scientists like Valery Legasov and Ulana Khomyuk (played by Jared Harris and Emily Watson) were willing to challenge them and fight for a seemingly impossible solution to the world’s worst nuclear accident in history.

The “I’m not crying, you’re crying” binger: My Brilliant Friend

An emotionally absorbing tale of friendship and coming of age, My Brilliant Friend is based on the international bestselling Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante and follows the tumultuous life journeys of two young friends – the timid yet capable Lenù, and the intelligent but tempestuous Lila. Growing up together in a poor, violent neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples during the 1950s, the story explores how the two very different friends propel each other forward in a community filled with brutality, backstabbing and fear of the ever-present danger posed by the local crime family. As its sprawling story unfolds, we see how seemingly small opportunities and choices shape each of their lives into adulthood, in what will eventually become a lifelong bond spanning more than 60 years.

The “armchair detective” binger: McMillion$

Fans of true-crime documentaries will be blown away by the sheer audacity surrounding McMillion$, a six-part series that investigates the far-reaching, decades-long swindle that stole over $24 million from the McDonald’s Monopoly game. When the FBI received an anonymous tip in 2001 about a scam involving the popular fast-food promotion, it was hardly at the top of their priorities. But once they started to scratch beneath the surface, they began to uncover a vast conspiracy going back many years and involving countless colourful characters whose lives were ultimately destroyed by the part they played in the fraud. At the centre of it all? A man known by many involved as simply “Uncle Jerry”. Could it be Jerry Jacobson, the former police officer managing security from the agency running the promotion? Or Jerry Colombo, his nightclub-owning associate with mob family ties? Watch to find out.

The “closest I’m going to get to a European vacation right now” binger: Below Deck Mediterranean

Escape the cold from the comfort of your sofa with Captain Sandy and her crew, in this addictive reality series that will have you swooning over the sun-soaked opulence of the Mallorca, Spain. Sailing aboard the luxury super-yacht “The Wellington”, the series offers an Upstairs, Downstairs glimpse into the drama and craziness of the lives of the cabin crew as they interact with each other while catering to every decadent request of the boat’s ever-changing cast of cashed-up charter passengers. Set amidst the gorgeous backdrop of Europe’s most famous cruising destination, the Mediterranean Sea, this series is sure to induce an extreme case of holiday envy.

The easy-watching nostalgic sitcom binger: The Nanny

Easily one of the greatest sitcoms of the nineties, The Nanny brings the laughs on so many levels. If you watched it as a kid, you probably giggled along with its family-friendly gags – but when you rewatch it now, you’ll wonder how so many of its cheeky adult cracks went right over your head. You know the story: the flamboyantly brassy Fran Fine, sacked from her job in a Queens bridal shop run by her former boyfriend, heads to Manhattan to sell cosmetics door-to-door. Mistaken as an applicant for the vacant nanny position in the household of refined Broadway producer Maxwell Sheffield, her style, her flair (and the fact that she’s there) means she gets the job. And as she cares for Sheffield’s three children, while tormenting his jealous business partner Cece with the help of their butler Niles, her charmingly out-of-place demeanor brings a breath of fresh air to an otherwise stuffy situation.

The family movie night binger: The Secret Life of Pets 2

Join Max the Terrier and his fellow furry friends for a family comedy favourite that shows what our pets get up to when we’re not home. In this latest follow-up adventure, Max’s owner Katie is now a mother – and Max has become so obsessed with the baby’s safety that he’s developed a nervous tick. When the family heads off on a trip to the country, Max becomes even more of a wreck when he and his poochy pal Duke come across some unfriendly farm animals. That is until an old farm dog named Rooster helps Max to discover his inner courage and find some much-needed balance. Meanwhile back home, wacky bunny Snowball thinks he might actually be a superhero when his owner starts to dress him up in a mask and cape – so much so that when Daisy turns up to ask for help, he’ll have to pluck up all the bravery he can muster to save the day.

Find out more about the new Telstra TV* and discover more of what you love.

*Exclusive to Telstra broadband customers. Requires a compatible TV with HDMI port. A minimum internet speed of 3.5mbps is recommended. Antenna required to access free to air channels in your area. Subscription and data charges apply. Search not available across all apps.

BINGE - Noughts + Crosses
Entertainment |

BINGE is better with Telstra. Here’s why.

By Michael Ackland July 1, 2020

Providing the best technology on the best network with the best sport and entertainment services available is our mission at Telstra, and when BINGE hit our screens (big and small) in May, we thought about how we could make Australia’s unturnoffable streaming service even more accessible, whilst rewarding our loyalty programme members.

From today we’re offering customers* three months access to BINGE Standard on us, while members of the Telstra Plus loyalty program will be eligible for between three and nine months additional complimentary access depending on their Telstra Plus tier.

The BINGE app is available currently in the Telstra TV app store, so customers can explore all the new content on show (as well as on their mobile, tablet, computer, smart TV, and a range of other devices), and with the ability to sign up to the service via Telstra, and be included in their monthly Telstra bill once the offer period concludes.

BINGE really does represent a major change to the Australian streaming landscape, as it offers viewers premium content at a price point like other established services in the market, but with a far superior offering of well-established and loved TV and movies.

Don’t believe me, you can check out what’s on right here.

Combining a three-month introductory offer with additional months of access is our way of rewarding customers for their loyalty and gives you a risk-free way to experience everything BINGE has to offer now.

This best-in-market BINGE offer from Telstra is complemented by a similarly generous offer for sports streaming service, Kayo. Given our interrupted sporting calendar, we’re extending the Kayo Basic offer announced in February which is just $15 per month for 12 months (cancel anytime) for new and returning Kayo customers who are Telstra consumer post-paid fixed and mobile customers until 30 September. Premium Kayo subscribers will also receive a $10 discount and the ability to stream on three screens simultaneously for $25/month.

BINGE has three different subscriptions to choose from and customers can change between them whenever they need, plus cancel any time. To start, BINGE Basic is $10/month, streaming in standard quality with one stream at a time. Step up to BINGE Standard for $14/month and you’ll be able to stream in HD quality on two screens simultaneously, and BINGE Premium is for family households with HD streaming and four streams at once.

*excl. prepaid and business customers

Things you need to know

BINGE Offer: 3 months BINGE Standard subscription available to Telstra customers with a consumer post-paid mobile or home internet plan. Redeem by 18 Jan 2021 through http://hub.telstra.com.au/BINGE or on a Telstra TV.

Telstra Plus bonus months: In addition to the BINGE Base Offer available to you, Telstra Plus Members are eligible for an additional 3 months. Silver Tier members are eligible for an additional 6 months and Gold Tier members are eligible for an additional 9 months. Redeem through http://hub.telstra.com.au/BINGE.

BINGE Standard monthly fees (currently $14/mth) apply after offer period ends unless you change or cancel. Offer can be applied to: BINGE Premium (for $4/mth during offer period) or BINGE Basic (for $0/mth during offer period). After offer period, standard monthly prices apply (currently BINGE Premium $18/mth, BINGE Basic $10/mth), unless you change your pack or cancel before the end of your offer period.

Billing: Not compatible with any other BINGE offers. Not compatible with some third party billing platforms. Telstra billing not available for existing BINGE subscribers on another payment method. One redemption per customer account. Requires internet & compatible device and sign up to BINGE Terms of Service. Data charges apply.

Kayo Sports: Offer available to new & returning Kayo customers on a Telstra consumer post-paid plan. Eligible customers must sign up through http://hub.telstra.com.au/kayo or on Telstra TV. Standard monthly fees apply after offer period unless you cancel. One redemption per customer account. Not available in conjunction with any other Kayo offers. Redeem by 30 September 2020. Requires internet & compatible device. Data charges may apply. Event availability correct at time of publishing and subject to change.

Telstra Plus: Must be 18+ with an active service. Excludes enterprise and corporate accounts. Points are earned on payment of Telstra bill or pre-paid recharge (excl. outright purchases, refunds, credits & late payment fees). Points expire 3 years from earning. Marketing opt-in required (preferences can be changed). Exit program anytime. 

MCA - Biennale of Sydney
Entertainment |

Support Australia’s arts and artists online

By Genelle Sharples May 4, 2020

The COVID-19 restrictions have hit the visual and performing arts industry hard, with theatres, galleries and rehearsal spaces closed for the foreseeable future. But that’s not stopping some of Australia’s finest from showcasing their powerful performances, exhibitions and experiences.

Here, we take a quick look at some of the ways our partners, The Australian Ballet, Museum of Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria and the Australian Chamber Orchestra are bringing joy to Australian audiences through digital media.

The Australian Ballet is currently streaming full-length, cinema-quality performances for free online through its At Home with Ballet TV platform.

These magical and powerful performances will draw you out of your lounge room and into forests, castles and romantic starry skies to experience the freedom and exhilaration of unbridled leaps, pirouettes and lifts.

This five-month digital season of quality production recordings, danced by The Australian Ballet, draws from a carefully curated selection of treasured works, including all-time classics and ballet’s finest romantic productions.

Romeo & Juliet is currently showing from 1 to 15 May, with more productions to be announced shortly.

The Museum of Contemporary Art has launched a new digital platform – mca.art – which offers virtual tours of its galleries, including 360-degree views of the artworks in the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN and MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday.

Other highlights include a feature on artist commissions, an audio introduction to NIRIN by Artistic Director Brook Andrew, short artist talks, and a responsive map of the Museum.

The MCA has also launched a new online kids’ activity, Better Together with Pip and Merindah! Designed for children 4+, to enjoy weekly online creative workshops inspired by the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN exhibition.

NIRIN, meaning ‘edge’, is a word from Artistic Director Brook Andrew’s mother’s Nation, the Wiradjuri people of western New South Wales. The themes that inspire the exhibition use the Wiradjuri language.

In each activity, users will learn a new word in Wiradjuri and receive simple step-by-step instructions with suggestions for materials – all of which can be easily found around your home.

New kids activities will be added weekly from 20 May.

The National Gallery of Victoria has released a number of virtual tours of recent exhibitions including Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines and Kaws: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness which are a great way to experience the works and learn more about the artists.

There are also a number of short videos on its NGV Channel which give you an insight into the artists stories and behind the scenes. Well worth a watch! And finally, you can follow #NGVEveryDay on social media for updates and daily inspiration.

The Australian Chamber Orchestra’s digital season titled ACO HomeCasts features new recordings, livestreamed performances, access to archival and never-released footage, specially curated playlists, in-depth interviews and more. Some of the highlights include:

The Balkan Express by Maja Savnik: Infused with virtuoso performances of folk music, traditional dancing, and evocative imagery, ACO violinist Maja Savnik has created a quirky and stirring tribute to her Balkan heritage, filmed from her Sydney home.

MUSIC IN ISO 1′ Satu Vänskä: ACO Principal Violin, Satu Vänskä, presents a quirky, isolation-fuelled interpretation of Paganini’s virtuosic Caprice for Violin No.5, inspired in part by the Finnish Maid in Gogol’s short story ‘Diary of a Madman’.

Check out the ACO HomeCasts page for the latest HomeCasts schedule. You can also follow the ACO on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube for new content every week.

Key moments in the AFL with Kayo and Telstra TV
Entertainment |

More bang for your streaming sports buck in 2020

By Michael Ackland February 11, 2020

2020 is set to be an incredible year for entertainment. From the biggest events in sport, through to prestige, cinema-quality TV. We want everyone to be able to stream the best content to their devices, which is why we’re making Kayo more accessible than ever.

From 11 February for the sports fans, Telstra customers will have exclusive access to Kayo Basic for just $15 per month (normally $25 per month), and Kayo Premium for $25 per month (normally $35 per month) for 12 months.

The price drop exclusive for our customers from 11 February represents the best deal in sports since the Lakers picked up LeBron.

Kayo is a service like no other in Australia, and gives our customers the best domestic and international sporting content across multiple devices at a truly compelling price point, even for the casual sports fan.

Whilst perfect for catching the score when out and about, Kayo takes sports streaming to another level offering multiple sports on multiple screens for up to three users at once. With features like SplitView, customers can watch up to four events at once so they don’t miss a minute, even when scheduling conflicts for those big games clash.

And with an unmatched line-up of the best in Australian and international sports set for 2020, Kayo allows fans to follow the action on the go on mobile, at home through streaming devices like the Telstra TV, or on a PC or tablet.

This offer comes just in time for the start of the NRL season on 12 March, and the start of the AFL season just a week later on 19 March. And as if that wasn’t enough sport for your buck, Kayo will also stream the upcoming F1 season (including the incredible Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne) and all the Super Rugby clashes. That’s on top of the NBA; the NCAA College Basketball season; the ICC and BBL cricket matches, and more football than your schedule has room for!

Kayo compliments our already existing streaming service, the Live Pass, giving eligible mobile customers access to matches from the upcoming NRL and AFL seasons, to Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League, and Suncorp Super Netball on mobile.

We can’t wait for more customers to get into Kayo for the best sport streaming in the game!