After months of antici…pation, Netflix has finally launched in Australia, and the big questions – titles offered and pricing – have been answered. It’s largely good news, with pricing comparable to the US service and a range of streaming options, but as predicted, the number of titles on offer initially is significantly less than that available overseas.
Titles On Offer
Netflix Australia will offer 1116 titles, with 693 of these unique to the Australian service. While this sounds like heaps (and would take you a fair while to get through everything), it’s almost 7000 less titles than are available on the US version, which offers over 8500. The big Netflix names are there, with House of Cards, Orange Is The New Black and new series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, written by Tina Fey. It had been unconfirmed whether Orange is the New Black would be included in the initial offering, as Foxtel has broadcast rights in Australia to the Netflix original. The prison dramedy will continue screening on Foxtel’s Showcase, but will only be available for streaming on Netflix.
Sydney software developer and tech blogger Kenneth Tsang has compiled a handy comparison of the different offerings between Australian, US and Canadian Netflix services. “As usual, it looks like Australians are still getting less titles available,” he said.
Netflix have anticipated this level of disappointment though. “The catalogue that the Australians will see on day one will improve on day 30, and day 90, or every couple of weeks – sometimes every day, as we have more content coming in,” said Vice-President of Product Innovation Todd Yellin at the Consumer Electronics Show in January (via Fairfax Media).
There’s also a good scattering of Australian content thanks to deals struck with the ABC, with Chris Lilley’s We Can Be Heroes, Summer Heights High, J’amie: Private School Girl, Angry Boys, and Jonah From Tonga, as well as other ABC titles including Rake, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and The Time Of Our Lives, and kids’ shows H20: Just Add Water, and Round The Twist (for a touch of nostalgia).
As Netflix CEO Reed Hastings indicated last week, there is no original Australian content available as yet, but indicated it’s a possibility in the future: “Look to us to… find great stories to tell that are set in Australia with Australian talent but are global phenomenons”.
Unlike in the US, Canada and other countries, Netflix Australia has split its offerings into three plans:
An $8.99 per month option, which allows users to stream standard-definition content across a maximum of one screen;
An $11.99 per month high-definition option, which allows you to stream across two screens (your PC and your Smart TV, for example); and
A premium $14.99 per month plan, allowing customers to stream 4K quality content across a maximum of four screens.
This means that all Aussie Netflix plans do also come in slightly cheaper than using the US version with a paid VPN plan, but this depends on currency conversion rates.
With Netflix’s base plan coming in at $8.99 per month, it is $1 cheaper than rivals Stan and Presto, whose entry-level contacts cost $10 and $9.99 per month respectively. However, your $9.99 paid to Presto only gets you a choice of TV or movies. If you want both, you’ll have to hand over $14.99 a month, and it will only be in standard definition (Presto is only available in SD, while Stan only offers HD streaming).
Stan and Presto also have a wide range of content that won’t be available on Netflix, particularly when it comes to Aussie shows – Stan is part-owned by the Nine Network, while Presto is a collaboration between Foxtel and Seven West Media, so it’s unlikely we’ll see much content from those networks showing up on Netflix.
As well as this, Presto has announced a content deal with 20th Century Fox, while Stan recently came to an arrangement with Roadshow Entertainment.
Stan has also secured the rights to US shows including the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, as well as season six of Community and the critically-acclaimed Transparent, and Presto has the rights to the HBO back-catalogue, including Sex and the City, The Sopranos and Dexter.
In the end, with all three services vying for your love, each sweetening the deal with a month free trial, it’s probably worth giving them all a go, and then making a decision.
Let the games begin.