Entertainment TV New way to watch: Netflix Australia coming in March
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New way to watch: Netflix Australia coming in March

Netflix Australia
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The rush for local media players to shore up TV deals ahead of Netflix’s arrival in Australia was hit with a road block on Wednesday, with the US behemoth confirming it will launch in Australia in March 2015.

Ending months of speculation, the online streaming giant announced its plans to head to Australia and New Zealand by way of an inverted tweet to its one million followers on Wednesday morning.

Netflix says its Australian subscription service will launch with the original series Marco Polo, which has been dubbed Netflix’s answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones, and BoJack Horseman, starring former Arrested Development star Will Arnett, but there was no mention of big-ticket items like House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black, which are currently first run on Foxtel in Australia.

The local service will, however, include Bloodline, starring Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn, Marvel’s Daredevil, Sense8 from the creator of The Matrix and Grace and Frankie from the brains behind Friends.

While no price has been set, a US Netflix subscription is $US8.99 a month, so Australians can expect to pay between $10 to $15 for Netflix across smart TVs, tablets, smartphones, set-top boxes and consoles, with high-definition and 4K available.

Tens of thousands of Australians have already accessed Netflix via virtual private networks to avoid having to wait lengthy periods, illegally download or subscribe to Foxtel to watch cult shows like Game of Thrones and House of Cards.

· Why Australia doesn’t need to go nuts for Netflix
· Foxtel drops prices, tells pirates ‘you’re welcome’

Whatever its programming schedule, Australian media players have been anticipating the prospect of an Australian Netflix arm for some time.

“Foxtel welcomes competition, we believe in offering consumers choice,” a Foxtel spokesperson says of the Netflix news.

“The Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) market is in its infancy and the entry of new players will help grow awareness of the category.

“Foxtel is confident that it has the best possible content, delivered by world leading technology and that it can meet the needs of consumers, whether they want the full Foxtel experience or the simplicity and convenience delivered as SVOD through Presto.”

In September, Foxtel announced it was slashing the price of its basic subscription service to $25 per month, in what was seen as a pre-emptive strike on its US rival. Foxtel had already sliced 50 per cent from the cost of subscribing to its movie on demand offering Presto after an onslaught of criticism.

There has also been speculation that Foxtel will join forces with Seven West Media in some capacity in an effort to add brute strength to their positions.

Earlier this month, Nine and Fairfax announced a $100 million online streaming venture, Stan, as well as the Netflix-style StreamCo.

Other outfits who will be impacted by Netflix’s arrival include the Australian run Quickflix, which was also rumoured to be a potential partner for Seven, Ezyflix and Foxtel’s Presto.

Basically, it’s game on for the industry.

Netflix: the original and the best

Netflix launched in 2007 and has more than 53 million subscribers in more than a dozen countries.

In the past two years it has made a name for its original and award-winning series House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black, as well as being host to a plethora of great TV and movie content.

While there was no word on the complete TV and movie offering, Netflix confirmed some of the shows that will be available to Australian and New Zealand subscribers.

“Netflix … will also be home to the critically acclaimed documentaries Virunga and Mission Blue, and stand-up comedy specials Uganda Be Kidding Me, Live, from Chelsea Handler and Jim Jefferies’s BARE, among many others,” the Netflix statement says.

“The Netflix ANZ selection will expand in 2015 to include highly anticipated original series family thriller Bloodline starring Ben Mendelsohn, Kyle Chandler, Sissy Spacek, Linda Cardellini and Sam Shepard; the gripping Super Hero tale Marvel’s Daredevil featuring Charlie Cox, Rosario Dawson, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson and Vincent D’Onofrio; Sense8, a new globe-spanning thriller series from the creators of The Matrix trilogy and Babylon 5, and, from the creator of Friends, Grace and Frankie with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.”

Pricing and programming details will be available at a later date.

— with AAP

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