An Aussie tech website is suggesting that Netflix will launch in Australia on March 31, and everyone is jumping on the same bandwagon, but sources for that information are more than a little fuzzy. I'm not suggesting that info is wrong per se, but I think there's more to the story.
Tech Guide reports from the ground at CES 2015 that Netflix will launch in Australia on March 31 for a price of $9.99 per month. Those are the two big bits of info we've been looking for since the official reveal, but Tech Guide's source doesn't come from within Netflix.
To be clear, we haven't had any official word from Netflix's PR team — either in Australia or from its headquarters over the in the US — as to the launch date for the Australian version of the global TV-and-movies streaming service. That is to say, there's no publicly confirmed date, whether or not Netflix itself and its partners have a date locked in stone just yet.
If that March 31 date is indeed what Tech Guide has been told either by a Netflix insider or an outside source, there are two possibilities. One is that March 31 actually is the launch date for Netflix in Australia, and that's a great scoop. The other possibility, and in my opinion this is more likely, is that Netflix will be launching in Australia before March 31, and that end-of-the-month date leak gives the company ample opportunity to launch early and say, if questioned, "well, we moved the date forward."
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, March 31 doesn't really seem like a great date to launch a world-beating streaming TV and movies service to an anxiously waiting, rabidly keen audience — it's the end of a month rather than the start, it's a Tuesday, and so on, but it's also a fair while after the otherwise-global release of a bunch of reasonably big Netflix exclusives like House Of Cards. It doesn't even line up neatly with the April 10 release of Marvel's Daredevil.
When you have strong competition from an imminent Stan, from a price-slashed Presto, from a and potentially even from a reinvigorated Quickflix, it makes sense to get out ahead of the crowd — in the same way that plenty of video games these days launch slightly ahead of their perfect window, and spend a couple of weeks quickly fixing bugs and ramping up the quality and diversity of content available as soon as possible. Launching at the end of March could well be another month for competitors to gain a foothold.
It's just a little late more generally, too. When we talked to Netflix about its Australian launch, we received confirmation that the service would launch in March, but the hints dropped — very heavily dropped — were that we could expect it towards the start of the month rather than the end. An early March launch would mean the Aussie Netflix would debut with House Of Cards still fresh and unspoiled for viewers.
From everything that I've seen, and the comments we've had at Gizmodo Australia from Netflix more generally in an official capacity, I'd be willing to make a bet that Netflix will launch in Australia before March 31. Not a great deal of money, but a bet nonetheless. Who's in for a tenner? [Netflix]