It’s happened. Netflix has finally launched Down Under, to much fanfare and scrutinisation.
It’s the beginning of a new era in Australian home entertainment, as people around the nation bump up their download limits, and prep their couch cushions and eyeballs for the onslaught of top-notch television and movies.
It’s now been a week since the streaming service hit our various tablet, computer and television screens, and as an early adopter, I can already feel the change it’s had.
People like myself who used to hire movies frequently have lately been struggling, as one by one, all the local video shops have begun shutting up shop. Lately, iTunes and GooglePlay were the only options, but if you’re paying $5.99 for every new release and $3.99 for any weekly, it can quickly add up. There’s no 5 weeklies for $10 deals anymore.
But with Netflix, and other streaming services such as Nine and Fairfax Media’s Stan and Seven and Foxtel’s Presto, basically for the price of what it used to cost to hire a single new release, you can now get an entire library of movies and TV shows. To put it into perspective, I bought the first nine episodes of Orange is the New Black Season (OITNB) 2, with each priced at $2.99, which in itself is already more than I am now paying to have both seasons, as well as the wealth of other content. But also frustratingly, despite the fact the entire season of OITNB was available in the US, I then had to wait week by week, until SBS had broadcast the show, to be able to watch another new episode.
Thankfully, the arrival of Netflix heralds a new era when Australian’s aren’t forced to wait months longer than US audiences to gain access to series.
Sure, a lot of people have been whining about the disparity between the selection on Australian Netflix, which carries only 1,116 titles compared to the US version with 8,499. But there’s promises the Aussie figure will grow and really, do you think Netflix was going to lay all the cards on the table at the launch? They obviously have a game plan, to convince all the people down the track who don’t have the service to sign up.
I found it interesting and a bit naive of some financial experts to say Netflix and other streaming services are a waste of money – that there’s not enough original content and Australian users will max out their data limits.
The Australian consumer is not an idiot. Anyone that is thinking of signing up to a streaming service is surely going to look around and see which ones offer the shows or movies they like. Presto has Louie, Wentworth, Sons of Anarchy and Modern Family, while Stan boasts shows such as Transparent, Community and Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. The beauty of streaming services is that you can switch between them every couple of months if you don’t need a lock-in contract. Certain services also offer deals with internet service providers and Stan, Foxtel Play and Netflix are giving you the option of a free trial to see if it suits you.
And frankly, what are our other options? If I want to see House of Cards Season 3 and don’t want to download it, what cheaper alternative is there.
While I doubt this will completely curb Australians’ seemingly insatiable appetite for downloading, I do think it will quench some of that thirst, because with streaming services, comes choice. We have a mass of content to choose from now and we can get it at the same time as the US, for a similar price.
That’s right, Australians might finally fork out some of their cash for content, isn’t of heading to their favourite bit-torrent website.
Where an issue will arise is when it comes to Game of Thrones, which will screen on Foxtel – and not on their streaming service. Most Australians don’t want to pay $25 a month to see a single show – even if Foxtel is trying to ease that harsh truth by promoting all the other stuff you get with a subscription. The problem is that consumers may not want 12 different channels. They want a single show and they want to watch it when they want, for a reasonable price. I believe that is where Foxtel is going to lose customers. If Foxtel were offering it on a streaming service, I would feel differently. For me, it means making the effort of going to the home of a friend or family member who have Foxtel, but I can guarantee others will not.