Netflix may be blocked to Australian users, but that hasn't stopped us from obesssing over it.
There’s a general (but often unspoken) rule in news: Australian audiences love Australian news. Sometimes to the point where they are happy to ignore most of what is happening overseas. But our ongoing fascination with US-based content services like Netflix and more recently Hulu completely contradict this adage.
Perhaps we’re intrigued by what we can’t have.
Both services are forced to block Australians from accessing their services due to the licensing agreements they have signed with their content providers, although some users have found a way to tunnel under their geoblocking systems.
Australians love high-quality US TV shows, and services like Netflix offer access to vast troves of them via online streaming. The sheer scale of their library overshadows that of Australia’s local players, which has led to speculation that when (and if) Netflix or any of these other services arrive in Australia, they will blow apart our existing IPTV ecosystem.
The interest over this hypothetical scenario has pulled the limelight away from our local players, which is a shame because 2014 is shaping up to be a big year for the industry.
While Netflix speculation is always tempting, here are four reasons to keep an eye on our local market.
1. Quickflix is growing again
After months of slipping subscriptions, Quickflix recently reported renewed double digit paid user growth. It's now lowered the price of its base service and is in talks with Apple over an Apple TV distribution deal that may also fuel further sign-ups.
Separately, despite all this fuss about online streaming, Australians still love QuickFlix’s mail out service.
2. Fetch TV is chasing one pretty ambitious bone
It took four years, IPTV service Fetch TV now has over 100,000 subscribers and is aiming to double the figure by the end of the year. Will it hit its goal?
They pitched a long ball, now can they bring it back to their owners?
3. Will a rebrand work wonders for Foxtel?
It’s been out for two months, but there's no indication on whether it’s driving subscribers. Foxtel told Business Spectator that it “does not release subscriber information outside of shareholder reporting cycles”. Foxtel's annual results, which last year were reported as part of Telstra's full year figures, are due out in Q3.
In the meantime, we mocked up one of their old ads to help them get their message across…
We’re that eager with anticipation.
4. Foxtel’s controversial triple threat
And staying on Foxtel, it will attempt to hold down its subscriptions by launching a ‘triple play bundle’ with internet, cable and telephony services later this year. It’s not a new strategy; US cable players like Comcast have been doing this for years.
What makes it fascinating however, is that the move may see Foxtel snagging customers off one of its major shareholders, Telstra. Foxtel, which is also part-owned by News Corp Australia, confirmed that this service is still set to launch later this year.
Hopefully people won’t use the bundles to do the one thing that pushes the cable company's buttons like nothing else... illegally downloading Game of Thrones.
Game of Fibre anyone?
Anything else exciting on the digital content front that we’ve missed?
Let us know in the comments below or contact the reporter @HarrisonPolites on Twitter. He will be off checking for Netflix news, because deep down he knows that all you really want to read about.
Correction: This article previously stated that Fetch TV was owned by iiNet. This is incorrect. Fetch TV is majority owned by a Malaysian pay-TV outfit Astro. The company is in a distribution partnership with both iiNet and Optus.