Australians who are keen to see Netflix enter Australia with its cheap monthly fee for unlimited streaming of film and TV content probably should not hold their breath.
Wednesday's announcement that Netflix plans to expand into France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg later this year shows the US streaming giant’s focus is firmly on Europe.
Netflix, which has 34 million subscribers in the US who pay $US8.99 per month, already has a strong presence in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Holland.
As IF has noted, Australian pay-TV executives theorise that Netflix has between 100,000 and 150,000 subscribers in Australia who circumvent the geoblock by using a virtual private network (VPN), which can show a computer’s location is based in the US. Foxtel has asked the US majors to bring pressure to bear on Netflix to try to curb this piracy.
The Australian has reported there are talks between Optus, Freeview, Quickflix and the Seven Network about partnering with Netflix for an Australian service.
That scenario is viewed sceptically by Australian pay-TV operators who point out Optus retails Fetch TV’s comprehensive film and TV service. Netflix could have bought Quickflix any time it wanted and Seven is thought to be negotiating to join the Nine Network’s looming SVoD service known internally as StreamCo.
One industry figure tells IF, “I honestly can’t see Netflix expanding here while they are having cash burn issues in the international business, Europe is their focus and there is no immediate desire from studios to see more SVoD services in Australia.
“Netflix may come eventually but because of the high cost of content pricing here, European markets make more sense.”
Quickflix executive chairman Stephen Langsford tells IF, "There seems to be a fascination about whether or not Netflix will come to Australia—which is a small market for them. The reality I think is that there will be multiple over the top services like Quickflix streaming in the market here in time.
"The evidence from the US where there a number of service providers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime etc is that consumers are opting for more than one service. Each service is distinguished by the content they carry, the devices they’re available on, etc. We think establishing a beachhead quickly and growing is name of the game in Australia."
Netflix routinely declines to comment on speculation. Asked if there were any firm plans to launch in Oz, a Netflix spokesman tells IF today, "Not yet, but we do hope to be everywhere someday."