Netflix‘s domination around the world, thanks to third-party domain shields such as Hola, stretches quite well beyond their official markets, one of the most notable of which being in Australia, where local streaming platforms have bemoaned the strong presence of Netflix in a local entertainment market that they don’t even contribute to, bemoaning the ‘free ride’ that is being taken by the American company.
Stephen Langsford, the CEO of one of Australia’s leading native streamers by the name of Quickflix, claims that Netflix’s purposeful ignorance of VPN (virtual private network) use by Australians is a detriment to local services due to stealing potential customers and the avoidance of local content licensing fees.
Netflix are noted as blocking non-Netflix markets (or other Netflix markets) from reaching the leading American version of the service, but do not provide any barriers when the natural solution of a proxy server comes into play, and have taken many subscriptions from Australian bank details, with American dollars paid and American content watched in spite of their physical location.
An open letter from Langsford to Netflix claims that they are: “…tacitly encouraging Australian consumers to inadvertently breach the copyright of content owners. We challenge Netflix to play by the rules. Stop turning a blind eye to VPN services acting as a gateway to your service. Be honest and face-up to the issue of unauthorised access to your US service.”
Langsford’s letter, coming in response to statistics released this year (which include payment start-up company Pocketbook estimating that 27% of Australians are using Netflix despite it not having a market presence, and Business Spectator claiming that Australia is second only to Canada in terms of accessing American Netflix services through VPNs).
He added of the lack of fairness involved and how Netflix’s unofficial presence weakens the Australian market as a whole: “Audiences will suffer in the long-run with few choices, less compelling offerings and higher prices.”
Whether viewer actions can be considered as Netflix breaching ‘content licencing laws’ when the internet can do far worse when it comes to unofficial viewing is a point of debate in Australia, but considering Netflix are receiving free money for doing absolutely nothing in an important market it can be assumed that they won’t ever be trying too hard to stop the proxies. And in the event that they do launch ‘legally’ in Australia, they’ll still have subscribers taking the American option, just with added tax, so is the question more of what the likes of Quickflix can do to become more competitive against the currently ‘non-existent’ force?