Netflix is coming down under, but what kind of Netflix will we get?

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Reports indicate that Netflix is gearing up to spend big marketing its streaming solution to Australians. That’s grand in a competitive sense, but what’ll be really interesting is to see what kind of Netflix we get.
Mumbrella is reporting that Netflix has appointed creative and social agencies in preparation for an Australian launch, because that’s the kind of thing that Mumbrella writes about. If the report is accurate, then we can expect to see Netflix billboards, online advertising and the like fairly soon. Which is great if you’re in the advertising business, I guess.
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The Netflix Problem
Most Australian consumers aren’t in that space, however. They’re more likely to be consumers of what Netflix offers, or at least what Netflix offers in the States. It’s estimated that the number of illicit (in the sense of breaking Netflix’s T&Cs; there’s little that illegal about using a VPN or DNS service per se) Netflix subscribers in Australia measures into the hundreds of thousands, but that still leaves quite a few million subscribers for Netflix to hoover up at $9.99 per month, or whatever the local GST-adjusted equivalent ends up being.
I’ve touched on this subject before, but the simple reality right now is that an Australian version of Netflix is highly unlikely to be anything like its American counterpart, simply because so many of the local rights to programs are locked up by a number of competitors, most notably Foxtel. It’s not coincidental that Foxtel yesterday dropped pricing on its packages rather radically, although the comparison between the two services was never like for like anyway, as while Foxtel runs quite a lot of repeats, it also offers live sports and a lot of first-run content.
This something that Netflix is only really dipping its toes into with series such as House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, as well as its upcoming Marvel series. Those you could expect to see light of day on an Australian Netflix, but as for everything else that might be offered — well, that’s something that only Netflix knows, but it doesn’t take a genius to discern that they won’t have quite the same catalog of titles here as they do in the US.

One thing to bear in mind, however, is that while Netflix operates in other non-US markets, it’s never really done much to block users in those countries from also running US Netflix accounts, and therefore gaining access to that larger content pool. For the current Netflix-accessing audience, it’s feasible that Netflix may follow the same path of least resistance, gaining US viewers via Australia at the same time as it serves the local market.
In any event, the emergence of Netflix on the local scene can only be a good thing for consumers. It’d be foolish to suggest that Foxtel dropped its prices this week because they’ve suddenly become allergic to money. They’ve done so in the face of a lot of competition, both accessed in violation of T&Cs, and with an eye to what could happen down the road. Netflix may find itself in a content wasteland when it does launch, but in one competitive respect, it’s already had a positive influence for consumers.

Author: Alex

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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