Monday, 17 November 2014

How Netflix could affect Australian streaming entertainment for the better

It seems Netflix is gearing up for an Australian launch, perhaps at the beginning of 2015. This sounds like really good news for Australia, and it is, but it might not be quite what we were hoping for.

The Netflix name in the USA is associated with cheap streaming content for a very low, flat monthly fee. The closest thing we have so far in Australia is Quickflix, who favour a slightly different "Pay-N-Play-N-Pay" model where you pay a relatively cheap monthly fee for streaming access, then (typically) pay several dollars extra for each TV show episode or movie you want to watch. The other major player in this space is Foxtel, who now charge $25 per month for their basic package and offer similar content to your defunct local DVD rental place, but on their schedule, plus Game of Thrones.

Quickflix, so far, has a pretty disappointing range of titles. Movies are typically only available to "rent" for streaming as long as they are new-release DVDs and it's a pretty safe bet that the obscure old TV show you desperately want to watch isn't on there. Foxtel behaves about the same, when you think about it.

There are two ways Netflix could bring some much-needed disruption into this space. One, a vast library of content currently unavailable in any way, shape or form to Australians. Existing dinosaurian regional distribution deals mean this probably won't happen, because they were signed by crusty old rich white dudes to whom "internet" is that weird noise their grandkids keep making. The second possible disruption is price. If I were to guess, I'd say Netflix is likely to cost a flat fee of $15 per month in Australia because suck it, Australia, what are you gonna do, cry about it? If they aren't charging extra fees for the exact same content as Quickflix, that will pretty much force Quickflix to drop their streaming rental fees, too, or else lose all their customers. However, if Netflix are forced by distribution agreements to charge extra fees for new movie streaming, and they don't get extra content, there's very little reason to prefer them over Quickflix. We'll just have to wait and see, I guess.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - This is not the first we've heard news of Netflix Australia.
PPS - There are perpetual rumours.

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