Firstly, allow me to state as someone who watches Netflix, that the Australian version is shit. Crap. It is severely limited in it options, has the one and only season of the British The Office but not a single episode of the far better American version and is a disgrace to the much better U.S. version. However it continues to make inroads and rustle our media and entertainment industries feathers; and for good reason.
With the rise of “imported” streaming channels such as Netflix, who’s on-demand catalogue of varying genres of entertainment are much appreciated after endless seasons of The Block, are causing local networks to voice concern over the fairness of the playing field.Hugh Marks of Channel 9 argued against the rise of Netflix and questioned it’s contribution to local content in an interview with The Australian in January this year. And he doesn’t hold back, stating:
“Netflix has just one person based in Australia, and they don’t employ any journalists. They’re taxed differently. While they don’t use terrestrial spectrum, they don’t pay a licence fee.”
Breaking down his statement below, we can see notably discrepancies:
- Hire a single journalist- Firstly, it is apple and oranges. Sure, both are fruit just like Netflix and Channel 9 are media corporations, however both differ individualistically. Netflix creates some shows, like 9, and others are produced by other groups, such as Top Gear, which again is much like 9. However that is the furthest Netflix’s content goes, whereas 9’s continue into broadcast journalism and sports coverage. Mark’s argues that somehow Netflix is dangerous as they do not hire any Australian, or any, journalists; but that is invalid as they do not need to, as 9 as already won that battle. Take for example a Thursday, according to the latest tv guide, channel 9 has news broadcasting from 5am straight through to 12pm, a period of 7, yes SEVEN, straight hours of broadcast journalism. This is followed by a simple 3 hour break, where the afternoon news runs from 3pm to 5:30pm, and continues from 6pm to 7:30pm. That is all together 11 hours of local, broadcast journalism. But this leads us to the other issue-
- Stan- Yes, Stan, the name of that second cousin who last you heard was trying to become a professional BMX rider. Now he is the name of Channel 9’s answer to Netflix, and as he is Australian owned, you would expect him to be churning out some you-beaut Aussie entertainment. Well there will be. Shortly. There is a tv version of Wolf Creek that nobody asked for in the works, and rumours circle about how much 9 will divert their finances from their mainstream channels to the new streaming service. But…
Stan is better than Australian Netflix (AusFlix for the rest of this blog). 9 has won with this investment in regards to content and value. Take for example AusFlix, who charges $8.99 a month, has 1120 titles to choose from (whereas it’s American version has 7110) and is only available in standard definition. Stan however has a much larger library, offering 7000 hours in high definition for only $9.99, a mere dollar extra for so much more.
So, is Netflix a serious threat to our entertainment industry, both job and audience wise? It is only if we allow it to be, just like Woolworths getting upset that Costco is allowed to operate here; they offer something people want and couldn’t get before. Those who watch Netflix watch it for the purpose of escaping the reality-tv drama and news coverage of free-to-air, and that is why those who watch 9 or 7’s news coverage watch it, for current affairs and updates around the world. The only way Netflix can win and kill our jobs is if 9, 7, 10 and even the ABC simply give in and stop investing in our industries, and if they don’t start listening to what the audience wants.
Ma, Wenlei 27th December 2015, “What Australian tv will look like in 2016”, news.com.au, http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/media/what-australian-tv-will-look-like-in-2016/news-story/170497a2fe18a43e419d1754bd551e9b accessed 6th April 2016.
Idato, Michael 24th March 2015, “Netflix v Stan v Presto v Quickflix v Ezyflix v Foxtel Play: Your guide to streaming video services in Australia”, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/netflix-v-stan-v-presto-v-quickflix-v-ezyflix-v-foxtel-play-your-guide-to-streaming-video-services-in-australia-20150324-1m6h46.html, accessed 6th April 2016.
Idato, Michael February 16th 2015, “Stan developing local dramas including TV spin-off to Wolf Creek”, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/stan-developing-local-dramas-including-tv-spinoff-to-wolf-creek-20150215-13eajn.html, accessed 7th April 2016.
Davidson, D & Crowe, D Janaury 14th 2016, “Netflix a threat to locals without media reform: Hugh Marks”, The Australian, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/broadcast/netflix-a-threat-to-locals-without-media-reforms-hugh-marks/news-story/e52d458a4f75df59e543172c463aea21, accessed 5th April 2016.