Stream of Consciousness

Friday, 20 March, 2015

Netflix is set to make its debut on Australian soil in March, marking the start of a new era for TV consumption. Netflix is hailed as the solution to all of our shady watching habits, but will it really be all it’s cracked up to be?

In Australia, we don’t have the best access (or pricing) for television shows. For example, Australians were the biggest illegal downloaders of Game of Thrones last year due to HBO and Showtime signing an exclusive contract that prevented the series being available even on iTunes until the end of the season. Coupled with a decline in interest towards Australian television, we find that more and more of us are seeing illegal means as the primary solution to our television needs.

Netflix will supposedly make accessing content easier, faster, cheaper, and more legal. Australia currently doesn’t have a multi-network streaming service like Netflix in the US, and while ABC iView and the like provide a selection of their own content, it’s far more difficult to stream international series without paying through the nose. Netflix promises the range of shows that we want, and for a price that (hopefully) isn’t ridiculous.

However, if you think that all our television problems will be solved when we get Netflix, think again. Australia was recently identified as having only the 44th fastest average Internet speed in the world, making video streaming more difficult compared to the US, where Netflix has been successful. Good luck watching high definition and 4K now. Not only that, but Netflix will not have the same range of shows in Australia as it does elsewhere due to current contracts between networks and providers. The latest series of our beloved Game of Thrones won’t even be shown on Netflix here. Within the next year, some of these contracts will expire, leaving Netflix to capitalise on its content. However, don’t be surprised if shows are also picked up by Netflix’s latest Australian rivals, Stan and Presto.

All in all, Netflix may have been hailed as the year we get rid of TVs and VPN setups, but it could just be another contender in a winner-less TV war.