The arrival of the long-awaited video streaming service, Netflix, has been announced with a launch date of March 24 confirmed from bosses in the US.
Despite news of the pending launch, many local users have accessed the site via the internet for years and the announcement is yet to detail the full cost of its service and outline what content will be offered.
Arguably, Netflix’s dithering to establish itself in the local market has meant local competitors – the Fairfax/Channel Nine JV Stan and Foxtel’s Presto – have already established themselves.
The acclaimed US drama House of Cards will head Netflix’s Australian offering as the video streaming company attempts to coax audiences away from Foxtel where the first two series aired. Netflix will be offering the as-yet-unseen third series at its prime carrot to Australian audiences; however, customers can still pay to watch the first two series.
The management of Netflix has been reported as saying it sees a real opportunity in the under-serviced streaming market in Australia. While traditional players – the free-to-air channels and Foxtel – have rebuffed any idea they’ll be dominated by international entrants, suggesting video streaming will merely complement their existing offerings.
Netflix itself started life in 1997 in the US as a DVD mail order company and quickly transformed itself into video streaming with a heavy focus on high-demand TV shows. Critics, however, have suggested that these companies buy the rights to popular programs you typically watch for free on the free-to-air stations and then charge for them.
As an example, it has been reported that Netflix has already secured the exclusive rights to Australian comedian Chris Lilley’s new comedy series Jonah From Tonga.