For those not in the know, Netflix is an extremely popular service in the US that lets you stream TV shows and movies from many different TV channels and studios. It’s kind of like an online video shop. It’s been touted as the key to ending piracy and freeing you from the nightmare of broadcast schedules and endless commercials.
So why is it so popular? Well there are a few reasons. First, there are thousands of movies and TV shows that are available to watch instantly a short time after broadcast.
Second, it’s cheap: For less than AU$10 a month you get all those movies and TV shows at a click of the mouse or remote.
Third, the original content: Netflix have their own highly acclaimed and extremely popular TV shows that are only available through Netflix (in the US), shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards onlyavailable here on Foxtel under exclusive rights.
It seems like every couple of months there is a news story, blog post or Facebook status claiming Netflix is coming to Australia. Many Aussie “cord cutters” get very excited then Netflix puts out a standard “We are always interested in new markets but not currently looking at Australia” statement.
But what would it actually be like if Netflix did launch in Australia? Well, for a start, I wouldn’t expect it to be as cheap; there is usually some form of “Australia tax” on these sorts of things. I’ve seen AU$15/month being tossed about but all of this is speculation.
Also don’t expect there to be as much US content available. With the current tangled web of licensing contracts and exclusivity deals that exists with a lot of the most popular TV shows it would be hard for Netflix to get those shows on its service. Even its own shows which are locked in with Foxtel would be inaccessible on Australian Netflix. I would expect there to be a good amount of local content to be available, however, shows like Neighbours and Home & Away, etc.
Ok, so it might cost a little more and there might not be as much content as I’d hoped for but why is it a bad thing?
Well, because it’s going to completely fragment the market. Between iView and the other channel’s mediocre “catch-up” services, Quickflix trying to expand its offerings and traditional broadcast TV – Netflix entering the tiny Australian market will force the others to react to protect their already tiny market shares creating even more exclusive deals and lock outs.
What this means for the end consumer is having to pay for a Netflix subscription for their offerings (which may or may not be worth it), a Quickflix subscription for things like Game of Thrones (HBO content is not available through Netflix) and then having to navigate the various “catch-up” services for the rest. All this fragmentation will just lead to people throwing their hands in the air and saying “too hard”.
What we need is a unified service that will let consumers browse and watch TV shows from any network, local or international. A service that is cheap and easy to use. The closest thing we have currently is Foxtel but for the price they are asking, it puts it well beyond what most people are willing to pay.
Would you use a service like Netflix if it came to Australia? Do you illegally download content you can’t get here?
This post was originally published at here and has been republished with full permission.