First everyone seemed cynical, and they had every right. When is the last time Australians paid a fair price for anything tech related? Getting screwed on consumer products is a national pastime.
Why should Netflix be any different?
Then there was the surprise. The surprise that, when Netflix announced its pricing strategy in Australia, it was entirely reasonable. More than reasonable in fact: downright fair.
I mean really? Come on now! This is Australia. You’re charging us a reasonable price for goods and services? There has to be a catch…
So of course, there was that cynicism again. What about the library? It has to be borked if we’re paying a fair and reasonable price, right? We won’t be getting this show or that show, this movie or that movie.
This was shortly followed by a round chorus of ‘I told you so’ when the details of that library were released.
So yes, the Netflix offering in Australia doesn’t quite match up to its US counterpart. Yes, there are shows we simply can’t watch. Yes, there are seasons of certain shows tied up in licensing disputes and, as such, we have to wait until certain dates before watching on Netflix. Those Foxtel meanies have to drink their fill before us plebs can get in on the action.
Yes, this sucks. Actually, ‘sucks’ is probably too extreme. Let’s just say it’s ‘not the ideal situation’.
Not the ideal situation, but not a terrible situation. Far from it.
Here’s my own personal experience: I woke up on the morning of the Netflix launch. I turned on my PS4. I installed Netflix. I signed up for Netflix. I flicked around the super-slick interface. I bookmarked about a dozen documentaries. I marvelled at the depth of the offering — honestly, I did. I showed my wife Netflix, she had the precise same reaction. Simply put: she lost her shit. I lost my shit.
Shit was being lost. Collectively.
But when I arrived at the office the internet seemed to be losing its shit about Netflix for different reasons. Most of them were negative: this show wasn’t available, that series was missing. For the most part I think these criticisms are fair. Nitpicky but fair.
But from my perspective, as someone who a) never used Netflix before, b) has a whole lot of TV to play catch up on, I couldn’t care less that [insert show/season here] is missing. There is simply so much content to watch. More quality content than I have time to watch.
I understand the complaints, particularly if you’re the kind of person who’s been using the US version of Netflix for years now. But I’m coming from the perspective of the everyman here. I feel as though I represent a larger segment of the population. I am the person coming straight to Netflix from terrestrial TV, ABC iView, and that’s about it. This is the perspective — I’d argue — of most people currently subscribing to a Netflix-esque service for the first time. I am swamped with content, nicely categorised using a slick interface, with HD streaming capabilities that actually work as advertised.
I’m sort of amazed by how good Netflix is for how much it costs.
I have Netflix on my tablet, so my son can watch Mike the Knight while I watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I have Netflix installed on all three on my gaming consoles. This weekend I had to travel to Melbourne for a wedding. I brought my PS4 with me to play Bloodborne and — added bonus — I can easily watch an incredible number of TV shows in my downtime. That is amazing to a pleb like me. I can do all of this without that weird, gross feeling you get when pirating a show — and the quality of the experience in incredible.
My point: yes, the Netflix selection isn’t all it could be, but it is still an incredible service, particularly for people like me who are discovering this new world for the very first time. We have 4k streaming that works. We have a price that works. We have great sized library that will expand as time goes on.
I’m really, truly happy with that.
Originally published on Kotaku Australia