Dear Netflix, Welcome to Australia. Like many of you, I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for a couple of years now and prior to today’s Australian availability, I was forced to pretend I was American. Thanks to a DNS, the bits coming from my router, appeared as if the originated in the US. It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of Aussies fell in love with what Netflix had to offer, they went through the same VPN or DNS experience to pay Netflix.
Netflix has made it very clear they want US customers to become Australian customers. While you can remove your current payment method and insert an Australian one, this isn’t a transition assisted in any way by Netflix. There’s no incentives to do this and there’s also no confirmation on whether you’ll be able to change it back to a US account.
It is surprising that there is no account transition option being made available, basically Aussie customers who “don’t exist” would have to stop paying on their existing account and signup for a brand new Australian Netflix account. Netflix needs a convincing argument to get users to move as last month Netflix cost A$10.57 + A$0.32 foreign currency fee, totalling A$10.89. That means a US-based account with the current US to Australian currency conversion is still $1.10 cheaper per month than the Australian plans. With the fluctuation in the dollar, this gap may close, but if the performance benefits along would have me switch, I just ask they make it easy.
Right now, if you sign into the Australian site with your US account, you’ll see this message.
This sucks for a few reasons, most of all that ending one account and creating another will see you loose all your preferences, profiles, viewing history, rating and reviews as well as breaking any social shares they may have done. This definitely could have been handled better. The net effect for the user will be a better streaming experience, removing the bandwidth overhead of a VPN, as well as being able to pay in Australian currency.
The launch today transforms the entertainment space in Australia. Now the recently launched competition Stan and Presto now have some serious competition. In mind, they just lost.
Netflix is the 500 pound gorilla, they’re an international giant in terms of their technology stack and subscriber numbers. Their original series production enables them to set the benchmark in terms of quality for Hollywood to run chasing, this includes becoming a founding member of the UHD alliance and producing content in HDR and 4K.
Most people will enjoy a stream in high definition, which will use 3GB per hour, while those people who lean on technology and have a supported 4K display, you’ll be sucking down 7GB per hour. While a number of ISPs have agreed to unmeter the loads of traffic consumed by Netflix, the biggest ISP in the country, Telstra, has not.
Don’t forget those numbers are for a single stream, if your connection and budget allows it, you may have up to 4 devices in a couple of years time, pulling down 7GB+ per hour each for a brutal total close to 30GB per hour. That is a technical challenge unlike what ISPs have ever faced before. If pulling off an uninterrupted Skype call is still a challenge on today’s connections, the NBN can’t arrive soon enough.
In reality, in 2015, the problem may not be so severe with 4K displays remaining at a price point that is accepted only by enthusiasts and footballers. Even with a couple of HD displays eating 6GB per hour, you’ll only be able to binge watch 16hrs of Netflix per month on a 100GB plan and that’s doing absolutely nothing else. Here lies one of the biggest problems with internet in Australia right now, incredibly low data caps.
Today Netflix becomes the first serious content source for 4K content. While others had clumsy hard drive solutions, the future of entertainment distribution is clear, it’s IP-based. Crowded wireless spectrum means that even OTA broadcasts are often not even in HD, in 2015, this is unforgivable. The internet isn’t great everywhere and we may not agree with the new structure of the NBN, but if faster internet (with bigger caps) then consumers will be winners. Like music subscriptions before them, TV Shows and Movies in Australia are about to be innovated.
We know now the leaked pricing was correct and now we have the full picture on content lineup. Kenneth Tsang (@jxeeno) on Twitter says he’s extracted the lists from each category and compiled a spreadsheet. According to Tsang, there are 1,116 titles in Australia, compared to 8,499 in the US.
Head over to http://netflix.com/au-en and signup. There’s a 30-day trial if you’re not sure.