Australians have to pay staggeringly high premiums for television programs delivered online through streaming or on-demand services, according to analysis from consumer advocacy group Choice.
“Australians wanting to watch the upcoming season of Walking Dead will be paying up to 376% more than people watching the same show in the United Kingdom,” says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.
Season 2 of the popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black currently costs Australians a minimum of $27.26 through Google Play, 219% more than that paid by Netflix customers in the US.
And, says Choice, Orange is the New Black will cost 431% to access the show through Foxtel.
Angus Kidman, editor of Lifehacker Australia, agrees that Australians get a raw deal when it comes to digital media, but says Choice is comparing apples to oranges.
“The prices charged by Google Play and iTunes are for a permanent downloaded copy of the show. The price from Netflix or Foxtel Play is for the ability to stream a copy. One is a purchase, the other is a rental. By Choice’s logic, we could declare that home owners are being ripped off because the cost of buying a house is so much higher than merely renting one.”
Choice says the question being asked by consumers is why they have to pay a premium to Foxtel when they can access and pay a reasonable price for content through an overseas service such as Netflix.
“Despite what some local incumbents have said, accessing Netflix – which will spend $3 billion this year paying for content from studios – is legal,” says CEO Alan Kirkland.
“The heart of this issue is about local middlemen wanting to clip the ticket on popular overseas content rather than respond to changing technology and deliver affordable content online.”
And in some cases consumers simply can’t access shows they want from an Australian provider.
The new Steven Soderbergh drama, The Knick, is currently showing in the US and Singapore with no announcement for local release in Australia.
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