Netflix heading for Australia

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Netflix is understood to be planning a launch in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, with two acquisitions executives visiting Sydney next week to meet local content owners.

Village Roadshow CEO Graham Burke recently confirmed that the Australian studio is in talks to sell content to Netflix. In an interview with tech website CNet, Burke said “it is pretty widely known that Netflix is opening operations in Australia next year”.

Although Netflix has not yet launched in Australia, it’s estimated that up to 200,000 Australians are already subscribing to the company’s North American service by masking their IP addresses via a VPN.

A local version of the service is expected to launch in the first half of 2015, although Netflix is keeping mum on exactly when, and some industry sources say the rollout may happen in the second half of next year. The service is expected to cost A$10 per month, slightly more than its US$7.99 monthly fee in the US.

In comparison, local VoD platform Presto, launched by pay-TV operator Foxtel in March, 2014, costs A$19.99 per month for unlimited access to new releases and library titles.

However, Australia may not be an easy market for Netflix to crack due to high levels of piracy and the fact that many popular films and TV series have already been licensed to other players. Local rights to Netflix’s own productions, House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, are held by Foxtel.

Australia also suffers from high levels of illegal downloading, with Game Of Thrones thought to be the most heavily pirated TV series.

And while Netflix is a global streaming heavyweight, Australia already has several homegrown VoD services, including Presto, Ezyflix and Quickflix, which is part owned by HBO.

Australian media giants Hoyts Group and Seven West Media were also planning a VoD service, which was recently shelved. However, local broadcaster Nine is gearing up to launch its StreamCo service later this year.