Netflix's Official Launch In Australia Is Happening, Albeit Very, Very Slowly

200,000 Australians can't be wrong: Netflix is something that probably should come to Australia in an official capacity. Which is a good thing, because based on all the information we have so far, we're very close to an official launch of Netflix, in the land Down Under.

Meet Stan: Australia's Most Ambitious Streaming Service Yet, Set To Go Head To Head With Netflix And Piracy

For those out of the loop, Netflix is a DVD rental service that, similar to the existing Aussie service Quickflix, sends DVDs out to people via the post for them to rent, enjoy and then send back. The real game-changer that has caught the attention of hundreds and thousands of Australians, however, is the company's Netflix Instant product, which allows users to use any device, any browser and any machine connected to the internet to stream an almost infinite library of content for the low, low price of $US8 per month.

Australia has been in a wasteland for cheap and liberated access to content in the last five years, with free to air broadcasters and pay TV giant, Foxtel, maintaining a stranglehold over new shows and movies, running them to an antiquated schedule that doesn't suit the right here, right now habits of modern viewers. These networks have gradually attempted to offer more relevant products to modern viewers crying out for cheap streaming services with the launch of products like Foxtel Play and a myriad of free-to-air catch-up services.

For this reason, Australians are flocking to sign up for VPN services in a bid to access Netflix Instant. VPN tunnels make Netflix think that the computer is actually accessing the content from the US, lifting the geoblock wall and making the content available.

It's something that has drawn the ire of the Australian television and streaming industries, with local executives slamming the practice as "piracy", simply because the content being accessed by Australians via Netflix isn't licensed to be viewed in the local market.

But while the local industry throws stones, Netflix has been quietly tooling away in Australia, working on a local launch.

Gizmodo Australia understands that the streaming giant currently operates out of an office in the Sydney CBD, working quietly to establish local connections with agencies, marketers and other support structures.

mUmbrella revealed today that it believes Netflix's Australian operation has recently signed itself up with new creative and social marketing agencies, which indicates that the launch of the Instant product in Australia is just around the corner.

The report indicates that a multi-million dollar marketing blitz will flood the Australian market in the coming months.

Like it or not, Australian TV industry: Netflix is coming. [mUmbrella]



    I understand that Netflix has a huge impact on Australian Media. But does it have the same effects in the USA and other countries and their Cable networks?

      Netflix generally has a delay in receiving TV shows getting them usually close to the traditional DVD release. So they don't really compete directly with new content and is used as a catch up service.

      Of course many people point to it and other media streams as a reason tv ratings are much lower than they traditionally are.

      There is a streaming service focused on newer shows (Hulu), but it's owned by a conglomerate of tv companies and is more run as a "You missed it? Catch up!" kind of service, with delays of a day to a week for shows to try prevent it from competing with it's big brothers.

      Australia is an odd case, where many of these older shows and movies would be licensed by Foxtel and the like, so that initially you could only buy them on DVD or watch on Foxtel. iTunes purchases fragments that a bit, but their prices match DVDs so Foxtel competes on the idea of getting much more content for one price.

      Of course that's how Netflix operates, only at a fraction of the cost. So Foxtel get's shitty that we can buy a month of Netflix for as much as a single bargain bin DVD.

      Forgive me if my explanation rambled a bit, kind of foggy this morning.

      Pretty much I use Netflix instead of pirating movies and TV back catalogues, I use Hulu instead of pirating new TV shows, and rent new movies via whatever movie streaming service is the flavour of the month individually.

      If what you desire are HBO and AMC shows, you'll have to pirate them for new release though.

    *Crosses fingers and hopes that Netflix gives the smack down to rights holders in Aus.*

    If it doesn't match the US version, it's gonna flop.

      Honestly I don't think I'll ever give up unblock-us since I realised I can keep changing my region to find different films that aren't available in the US region.

      I think I'm currently in Ireland where I was able to watch Desolation of Smaug.

        Depends on the price, but if it's similar in price to the US version, I'll swap my subscription to the AU version, but still keep unblock-us.

        At least that way, I'm helping the aus numbers, and they hopefully won't turn around and say "nope. closing shop. no one took it up"

      Prediction: A third of the content at triple the price.

      Rights-holders are the law, and they still obviously see Australia as an easy mark, despite the market very politically and publicly not bearing the status quo quietly.

      The danger: Australians accessing Netflix-US will be easily identified by Netflix, and forced onto the more expensive, more limited (but still more competitive) Netflix-AU.

      Who wants to bet that this is the deal that Netflix is making with rights-holders to gain otherwise impossible licencing?

        That's my fear as well. But having said that, Netflix is officially available in the UK and, as far as I know, people in the UK are still able to get access to the US Netflix using Getflix, VPN, etc. So I'm still hoping we'll be able to continue using it as we are even after it launches here officially.

      UK Netflix has a lot of other good stuff US doesn't get. It wont match, but it'll still do a damn good job. Plus you technically just have a Netflix account and your IP is the regionalisation. I have a US Netflix account and switch to the UK for different movies via unblock-us.

    How dare they come over here and offer us cheap streaming TV, shame on them.

      How dare they come over here and offer us cheap streaming TV, shame on them.

      Its pretty much how everyone sees the media companies when they open their mouths.

      We are a technologically advanced country, but we are expected to live with such archaic media systems. Of course we have such high races (per capita) of piracy.

      Steam has taken a big chunk out of game piracy, Spotify/Pandora has done the same for music . While both are no stranger to controversy, it is widely accepted that their benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.

      When you have 200,000 subscribers moving their viewing habits off-shore because they see no benefit in local offerings, that is a substantial problem.

      When you also consider that Netflix will give you 2 simultaneous streams (for a couple of dollars you can add more) and each household having possibly 2.5 people in it, you could be looking at 500,000 to 1,000,000+ Australians who are actively snubbing local media delivery.

        200,000 might sound like a large number but in a country of 22 million people, that's less than 1% of the population. So I wouldn't necessarily say it's a "substantial" problem...yet. Of course, as more people become educated and start dropping Foxtel for services like Netflix, the problem will get bigger. And hopefully once Netflix launches here, that less than 1% will turn into 5%, 10%, 20%+ of the population. Then Foxtel will REALLY be feeling the heat.

        And I hope it happens, because Foxtel's business model is archaic and stupid. Right now, they are relying on their customer's ignorance that there's no other option. Once their customers realise there ARE other options...and better ones, for that matter...hopefully they will start jumping ship in their droves.

          Well, 22 million people, not 22 million homes.
          There are only about 8 million homes in Australia, and not all of those are on fast broadband, so as a percentage of the people *able* to get Netflix, that do have it, the number will be a lot higher than your estimate.
          Netflix has around 30% of the market share of people who currently have a subscription/rental service in Australia... that is pretty significant.

    Hey Luke... Will they rent DVD's to us too..?
    I'd hope they have enough experience to know that a half baked response to local providers, just won't cut it..!

    Last edited 04/11/14 1:05 pm

      I doubt it. It'd require a large capital outlay to build up a decent library (and they wouldn't even be able to ship any of their existing DVD catalogue to Australia, due to region locking).

    I guess the question here is, if everything is already locked up in licensing contracts, what, if anything, can they offer that others like Quickflix can't?
    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for this move, I'm just curious as to how well they're going to do in our local backwards market. The name alone is likely to sell many subscriptions, but are they going to have the content to back it up?

      Not all the content will necessarily be locked up in exclusive contracts, though some will be. They may be able to use their international buying power to pick up a lot of those contracts when they lapse as well.

      They also have all their original content, which is steadily increasing in size and scope. A lot of which is already popular here.

      Also I would love to get DVDs sent out with my netflix account when things aren't available to stream =P

      I guess the question here is, if everything is already locked up in licensing contracts, what, if anything, can they offer that others like Quickflix can't?

      That's the acid test: Netflix is gonna have to fight hard or find ways around the rights holders here.

      Even if (say) the NBN went without a hitch the platform maybe there but it's the rights holders (all forms, not just those getting licenses from major studios such as Fox, Time-Warner and Disney or from existing license holders) that have the whole industry by the throat.

      The industry is choking, the rights holders are pointing out the failing health with one hand, are pulling the rope with the other and scream poor when attempts are made to take the rope from them.

      Last edited 04/11/14 1:31 pm

        What's it got to do with the NBN? Sure the better your connection, the better the stream, but when we first got Netflix we had 1.8mbps ADSL2+ and could watch without buffering.

          The scalability is not there. If more people get on board it's not going to keep up.

            Then all those people on crappy ADSL connections will just keep hammering them to full capacity with u-torrent like they do currently. Most of the geeks I know have moved off pirating, it's all the non geeks left.

    God I'm dreading the announcement of "$29.95 a month with 1/10 of the content of U.S Netflix".

      I agree with you it probably will happen, that's why we won't have to bother cancelling current Netflix and VPN subscriptions. Plus it's questionable wether there will be any local servers (ie. World of Warcraft "Oceanic" servers). Stick with the VPN, but everything online. Force our greedy governments to change tax legislations otherwise all business will flounder here.

        First of all, I'd be surprised if they didn't use some form of CDN to reduce their own streaming costs.

        But even if they did stream from overseas, it isn't as big a deal as it is for games. Television is non-interactive, so the extra latency may only affect how fast the stream starts playing.

        World of Warcraft has an Australian server now.

        Last edited 05/11/14 12:28 pm

    Just give me a bloody service that sells shows on a per episode basis and gives you access to .torrent files of the various qualities, HD, SD etc. Essentially, a private tracker that is public and the money goes to the people who make the show.

      I have been thinking about this exact thing. What if ISP's had a torrenting plan for say an extra $10 per month which allowed you to legally download movies and TV shows via torrent? The ISP could track which shows/movies were being torrented and disperse the funds to licence holders, For their efforts in administering such a services they could take a 20% cut of the revenue raised.

      If you got a 1 million subscribers on this service (approx. 10% take up) that would generate 2.4 million a year for the ISP with 9.6 million for the licence holders.

      Consumers get the content they want in the same manner as they get it now, but at a reasonable price, The licence holders get additional revenue which they are not getting at the moment.

        Great idea, and I'd love to use a service like that. But as long as companies like Foxtel are willing to pay producers a hefty premium for exclusivity, producers are going to take that money instead.

        The only way I can see a service like that working is if it made so much money for producers that companies like Foxtel refuse to pay the premium required to match or better that. The moment that happens, the writing is on the wall for Foxtel.

        Of course, with so many people pirating it is quite possible that the amount of money producers could earn from your idea would outstrip what FOXTEL is willing to pay. But no one will know if that's the case until someone rolls the dice and sets up a service like that, which would be a big risk.

    Do they really need to spend heaps of cash on advertising? If the service is comparable at all to the US version surely they would have 200,000 users right off the bat.

    Unless the content is completely hamstrung. Which it will be thanks to Australian rights holders.

    Thanks a bunch, Foxtel.

      Because we're used to the American one, i think you'll find you would need a lot of advertisement just to let them know its worth checking, even if its the same content you'd need advertising so that most people would even know its not a cut down version as thats what people are expecting so will hloss over it's Australia launch

    popcorn time

    Prediction: Netflix Australia launches - offers only DVD rental by mail :

    can Australia's network handle the bandwidth demand this may generate?

      Honestly yes, i get 3 down and i can stream at good quality through netflix, im in the process of moving back to the other side of town where the averages is 14 but because id like to do more than one thing lol

    If anything at least this will be an option or an alternative - which is all good in my book.

    Netflix is reason number one my I am hardly pirating any more. In spite of all the Australian "alternatives" many of them are cost or device prohibitive still (ie presto).

    Ultimately, some shows I want to watch instantly, but in reality I much prefer to watch my shows now in chunks at my leisure. If I have to wait a year for that to happen, it doesn't really matter to me.

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