Streaming giant Netflix will launch in Australia on March 24, however, thousands of locals already have access to the company’s American service thanks to browser plug-ins and VPNs.
The exact number of Australians bypassing Netflix’s geo-block is unknown, but it is estimated that more than 200,000 people are accessing the American service.
These figures come from data collected by Pocketbook, which found Netflix was the second most popular paid content media company in Australia despite having not launched locally.
Foxtel has the largest market share, while Quickflix – which in 2012 had around 110,000 users – came in at third place. The number of Australians accessing Netflix via a VPN must therefore be somewhere in between, according to the Pocketbook survey.
However, will these users jump ship to the Australian service once it launches at the end of this month?
StartupSmart spoke to more than 10 people this morning who access the American Netflix service from Australia, and not a single one said they would be changing over on March 24. The reasons were primarily due to pricing and the availability of content.
“It’s much easier to access content and I feel better than I would if I was pirating them directly, even though it still exists in a legal grey area,” one person said.
“I almost certainly won’t change to the Australian one because I know they’re going to have an absolute dearth of content.”
Another person who uses a VPN service pointed out that price was a major sticking point.
“I think I will stay because I find using the VPN so convenient,” they said.
“The idea that I would have less content or pay more for a very slight amount of convenience doesn’t matter much to me. I’m pretty happy with the price I pay for American Netflix.”
Netflix Australia has not yet revealed the exact cost of the service. It has previously confirmed it would operate on a three-tier pricing plan: standard definition video, high-definition and 4K ultra-HD.
While most of the original programs to be released in Australia later this year will be available at the same time as in America, the timing of the Australian launch means locals have been missing out on the popular drama series House of Cards.
In addition, Netflix is refusing to say whether season three of Orange is the New Black will be available to Australians at the same time as America.
A spokesperson for Netflix told StartupSmart the company does not offer comment on the number of VPN users in Australia because they are just “speculation”.
“The use of VPN is against Netflix terms of service in countries we do not operate in and we abide to industry guidelines to prevent this happening,” he said.
“We are confident that when we launch here, members will enjoy the Netflix service we are bringing to Australia.”
In January, Torrent Freak reported that Netflix was cracking down on subscribers who were using VPN services to bypass the company’s geo-location restrictions.