Great news for the industry as Netflix reveals Australian launch on 24 March 2015

Netflix has this morning confirmed the service will launch in Australia on 24 March 2015, one week earlier than original reports. No pricing has yet been confirmed but it predicted the service will cost around $10 per month.

The announcement comes mere days after the launch in its native United States of flagship original program House of Cards, which almost instantly flooded illegal downloading sites shortly afterwards.

I have previously written about how Netflix’s arrival will be a boost to the local consumer electronics industry, both suppliers and retailers, and how one brand in particular, TCL, is very excited. The reason for this excitement is that Netflix is a publicity magnet that will infuse the general consumer populace with interest in video streaming and, in turn, with the hardware capable of playing back Netflix. Smart TVs, smartphones and tablets, gaming devices: these are just some of the products that can provide an enjoyable Netflix experience. Of course, the same is broadly true for Stan (Fairfax and Channel Nine), Presto (Foxtel and Seven West Media) and Quickflix (life support?), but none of these nascent brands carry the same cachet as Netflix, which has been enjoying an enviable dream run in the mainstream media. “Many Aussies and Kiwis have heard a lot about Netflix over the years, and we’re excited they’ll get to experience our unique blend of Netflix original content, local series and films, and popular movies and TV shows from around the world, all for a low monthly price,” said Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings told me. At launch, Netflix will be available on Smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Hisense, as well as Fetch TV’s second generation set top boxes, Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast. The product is also available on Sony PlayStation 3 and 4, Microsoft Xbox 360 and One and the Nintendo Wii U. There are also apps for both Apple and Android smartphones and tablets. Richard Tassone, director of Panasonic’s Consumer Electronics Group, told me that streaming services are becoming an important part of the purchasing decision for new TVs, though penetration rates continue to be encouraging low. “Access to internet content is becoming increasingly important to our consumers,” Tassone said. “According to recent research, one in eight Australian households have a Smart TV, which is almost a sixfold increase over the last four years. “We believe the introduction of services like Netflix will help to increase Smart TV penetration and connectivity in the home. Panasonic is continually driving innovation within the Smart TV and Blu-ray space so users can enjoy the content they want when they want it.” Two partner deals have already been announced: customers of ISP iiNet will receive unmetered access to Netflix; and new consumers of the Microsoft Xbox One console will receive three months free access (this promotion starts 24 March 2015 and runs for a limited but unspecified period). Furthermore, our good friends at Mumbrella are reporting that Optus will not be counting Netflix towards in-home internet quotas. “Xbox has a long association with Netflix around the world, and with this announcement we’re excited to bring our partnership to the millions of Xbox owners across Australia and New Zealand,” Jeremy Hinton, business group lead at Microsoft Australia, told me. Retailers looking to get in on the action should consider selling Netflix gift cards. Available in $20, $30 and $50 denominations, these cards are a good upsell opportunity with purchases of the aforementioned compatible products. Already a large number of FMCG retailers like Woolworths, Coles, Big W, 7-Eleven, Australia Post and Officeworks have signed on to sell these cards and they certainly would not look out of place in a Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi or The Good Guys store. Although pricing is still to be announced, I checked in with Dan Barrett, director of content at Televised Revolution and good friend of AR to get his insider thoughts: “My Netflix price prediction is $9.99 for a single screen, $11.99 for two screens and HD and $12.99 for four screens and 4K,” he said. In addition to House of Cards, Netflix will be showing new titles including Sense8; What Happened, Miss Simone; Wet Hot American Summer: First Day Of Camp; Between; and Marco Polo throughout 2015.

This author is on Twitter: @Patrickavenell

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