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COMMENT: Optus, Fetch TV + Netflix Big Winners In 2015

COMMENT: Optus, Fetch TV + Netflix Big Winners In 2015

Telstra who also own 50% of Foxtel are facing the real possibility that tens of thousands of Australians could dump both Foxtel and their Telstra broadband packages or take a reduced Foxtel package in 2015 as Netflix move to deliver Full HD and 4K content.

Currently Foxtel charge $14 for the privilege of getting a Full HD feed, Netflix are tipped to launch in March with a $10 subscription package that includes a vast amount of Full HD content and 4K content such as the Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett TV Concert that is being sponsored by LG Electronics who along with Samsung are set to promote the availability of Netflix 4K content in their advertising.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, in 4K Ultra HD resolution is four times the resolution of Full HD consumers using the new Optus service will get the download which is set to chew up 8GB an hour in broadband data for free with the new Optus package.  

All a user has to do is pay the additional Netflix subscription fee of $10 and via the free Fetch TV box that is bundled into the Optus deal they will be able to get Netflix content which is set to also include    original shows for children such as “VeggieTales in the House” which was launched last month in the USA “All Hail King Julien,” which will be available in Australia in March.

Netflix will also role out their new Marco Polo TV series in March, with a budget of $90 million, the newest Netflix original series is their priciest production to date, and reportedly the second most expensive television series in existence, after HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Netflix’s previous original series, Orange is the New Black and House of Cards were smash hits in both the USA and Europe. 

The Marco Polo story is about a 13th century European adventurer who spent years in the court of Mongolian emperor Kubla Khan; his travels were later chronicled in a book that is credited with introducing fascinated European readers to Asia and inspiring Westerners to travel there. Marco Polo was filmed in Malaysia, Italy and Kazakhstan, and Netflix will hold the international rights, which it does not hold for House of Cards. 

The emergence of Netflix could deliver a massive boost for Optus and Fetch TV up against Telstra as Telstra has no option because of their 50% ownership of Foxtel to support the Foxtel pay TV network who have been price gouging Australians for nearly 20 years. 

Currently Foxtel which is also 50% owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation are trying to grab a share of Channel Ten, a move that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission should stop.

Australia has only has three commercial TV networks and Foxtel who are already a monopoly will be able to bid for sport rights using their investment in Channel Ten and then hive off the best games to Foxtel with consumers being charged to watch the best games. 

The Foxtel Ten play has nothing to do with the viability of a struggling commercial free to air network, it’s all about content rights and a move to subscription based services. 

I believe that consumers will flock to Netflix in Australia and the arrival of Netflix is brilliant for Australian production as they will pay premium dollars for content product with Australian produced shows delivered to over 50 million Netflix subscribers. 

 Netflix executives told me recently that they plan to seriously step up its original programming slate in the next few years and that Australia is a serious source of content for their network. 

Within five years Netflix would like to premiere a new original series or new season of an existing series every two-and-a-half weeks, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said earlier this week at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York.

To hit these numbers Netflix will have to increase the number of original shows on its streaming video service. Right now Netflix has 9 original series, including the forthcoming “Marco Polo” and landmark “House of Cards,” but it intends to ramp up to as many as 20, Mr. Sarandos said.

Netflix “will eventually be the largest producer of original content in the world,” Mr. Sarandos said.

But it won’t try to make each show interest as many of its 50.7 million subscribers as possible.

While the breakout hits “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black” appeal to large swaths of Netflix viewers, for its next crop of original series Netflix is looking for shows that appeal to “specialized markets,” Mr. Sarandos said. 

As an example, he cited Netflix’s first original series, “Lillyhammer,” which he said counts 65% of its audience in Norway.

He said that Australia will get a unique series and that the Company is currently talking to several production houses locally.