It’s the question that dominates the Australian media as we inch toward its announced launch: Just when will Netflix launch in Australia and New Zealand? After years of speculation and anticipation, Netflix is set to launch an Australian service in March. What hasn’t been announced yet is when exactly and what it will cost.
But we think we have the answer.
What do we know?
From their initial media release, we have known that Netflix will launch in March 2015. They never announced a specific date – standard practice for Netflix. There is not a specific day that they launch into new territories on, but Tuesdays have been more common than other days. When Netflix launch into multiple regions at the same time, the launches are often staggered on different days with the most prominent territories up first. When they launch, one expects that they will launch in Australia first, with New Zealand the day after.
We know the details of several content deals. At launch Netflix will offer several Australian stand-up comedy specials, including Carl Barron: A One Ended Stick; Arj Barker: Harvest; Kitty Flanagan: Hello Kitty; Jimeoin: Something Smells Funny, and Umbilical Brothers: The Rehearsal. Kids series will include: Lightning Point, the first three seasons of H2O: Just Add Water and the first season of Mako Mermaids; as well as international favorites: Maya the Bee, Lalaloopsy, and The Hive.
Content from Disney will also be available at launch. This includes Lost from ABC Studios, Jake and the Never Land Pirates from Disney Junior and Good Luck Charlie from Disney Channel. Film titles will include: Frozen, Planes, Marvels Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Saving Mr. Banks and Muppets Most Wanted. Tangled and Star Wars: The Clone Wars will also be available as part of a global deal.
Netflix will debut Gotham once the series finishes its initial airing in the US on Fox.
Original series produced for Netflix will include House of Cards, Bojack Horseman, and Marco Polo (among others). The rights to Orange Is The New Black are retained by Foxtel.
UPDATE: Content will also include material from the ABC, including Jonah From Tonga, Ja’mie: Private School Girl, Summer Heights High, We Can Be Heroes, Serangoon Road, Rake, Redfern Now, Upper Middle Bogan, Time of Our Lives, Janet King, Jack Irish, and Round The Twist. Additional kids content includes Angelina Ballerina, Sesame Street, and Thomas & Friends.
The next month will also yield three new Netflix original series and with these, the launch date for Netflix in Australia seems a little more clear. Over the coming weeks we will see the following launches:
House of Cards (Season 3) – 27 February
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – 6 March
Bloodline – 20 March
How much will it cost?
This is the genuinely interesting question. Based off recent pricing in Europe in similar high wealth nations, we can expect a price of approximately $11.99 per month to access the standard HD streaming + 2 screens of simultaneous streaming package. Netflix may offer their SD + 1 screen plan for $9.99 to compete with Stan, with a Family plan offering HD and four screens at $12.99.
Netflix have found the price point in the US to be particularly sensitive, so they’ve been seemingly reluctant to raise it too much. It’s going to be difficult for them eventually to pass the $10.00 price point without customer uproar in coming years. It would make sense for Netflix to avoid a similar issue in Australia by just launching over $10 to start with.
Stan may advertise itself as cheaper at their $10 price point, but Netflix have their Original Series to market as a value proposition. In addition, Netflix will also be available to stream on far more devices at launch. From a pure accessibility standpoint, Netflix still comes out far in front justifying a few bucks more a month.
When will Netflix actually launch?
A launch this week or next is unlikely. Despite Gizmodo pitching the idea of a March 01 launch, it’s unlikely they’d launch on the weekend or even in the days that follow. Yes, House of Cards is a big launch for them, but Netflix know that the publicity surrounding their having the rights to the series is going to be just as good value weeks after the US launch. Those desperate to watch season 3 on the launch weekend are likely to already have a Netflix US subscription. Besides the buzz surrounding people watching the show and complaints that it isn’t available yet is good promo for the service. Netflix are best milking that opportunity.
Launching for The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is foolish. It’s an anticipated comedy series by Tina Fey, but Netflix know that plays to a specific niche. It’s not exactly a marquee title that props up their service in the way House of Cards or Orange Is The New Black does, rather like Bojack Horseman, it’s just good value adding.
But Bloodline? This is a good launch anchor. This is a new show without any pre-existing brand familiarity. Promoting a new murder mystery drama from the makers of Damages is a tantalising prospect and makes for great copy when tied to the launch of the Australian service.
Launching with Bloodline makes a statement to the Australian market that Netflix is a provider of premium, compelling television that cannot be seen anywhere else. House of Cards has already been seen elsewhere, losing the exclusive value it may have had if previous seasons hadn’t been screened on Foxtel.
So, Give Us A Date For The Launch Already!
It makes perfect sense that Netflix will launch in Australia on 24 March 2015, with a New Zealand launch the following day on 25 March 2015.
This follows the Bloodline launch on March 20 in the US and other international Netflix markets.
A Tuesday launch allows for a teaser in the Media sections of the AFR and The Australian on the Monday (building expectation and buzz throughout the day) with dedicated news coverage provided on the Tuesday when it does launch. Netflix misses out on launch weekend activity from the weekend Bloodline launch, but a weekday launch makes a splash and it’s best to launch with the big new thing available at day one.
Could it launch earlier? It’s entirely possible. But a 24 March launch is the most sensible and altogether likely.