Netflix confirms arrival date for Australia and New Zealand

After months of speculation, Netflix has confirmed that it will be expanding in Australia and New Zealand in March 2015.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Australia and New Zealand will soon have access to US-based online movie and TV subscription service Netflix.

The company has announced that internet-connected users in Australia and New Zealand will be able to subscribe to Netflix from March 2015, and they will gain access to a "curated selection" of movies and TV shows in high definition or even 4K where available.

At launch, Netflix has revealed that its offering will include original series such as Marco Polo and BoJack Horseman, and kids' titles such as DreamWorks Animation's All Hail King Julien. Users will also be connected to documentaries such as Virunga and Mission Blue, and stand-up comedy specials Uganda Be Kidding Me, Live from Chelsea Handler, and Jim Jefferies' Bare.

Netflix said the ANZ selection will further expand in 2015 to include other shows, including Bloodline, Marvel's Daredevil, Sense8, and Grace and Frankie.

The arrival of Netflix to Australia is expected to end the long-standing argument used by people for online copyright infringement about the lack of availability to such services. However, based on the launch list of shows and movies, Netflix Australia is unlikely to look like the Netflix that people have been looking for.

The online service will be available at launch on smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, computers, and a "range" of internet-capable game consoles and set-top boxes.

As for how much it'll cost Australian and New Zealand users, the company has said that the "additional details on pricing, programming, and support devices will be available at a later date". However, it does note that users will be offered a one-month free trial that they can cancel anytime.

In June, Village Roadshow confirmed with ZDNet that the US video-on-demand giant was in negotiations with the company to access its content for a local Australian launch.

Graham Burke, the co-CEO of Village Roadshow, which produces and distributes films in Australia, said at the time: "[On] Netflix, they're talking to our people about supply of products, so they are opening and coming to Australia."

Despite not having been officially launched yet, it is common knowledge that Netflix already commands around 200,000 subscribers in the Australian market. Customers in Australia sign up using a US postal address, and use a virtual private network (VPN) to circumvent the geoblock on the service.

Foxtel's CEO Richard Freudenstein has previously slammed Netflix for exploiting the rights held by the pay TV company in Australia. Foxtel owns the licences for much of the content that Netflix would want to include in its library for an Australian launch — including Netflix's own shows Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.

"I'm opposed because Netflix doesn't have the rights to sell those shows in Australia," he said.

With competition heating up, Foxtel recently dropped the price of its Presto service from AU$19.99 to AU$9.99 to remain competitive against others such as Quickflix and EzyFlix.tv, as well as soon-to-be in-country competitor Netflix.

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