Netflix is preparing to meet strong competition when it launches in Australia in March.
“There are numerous local competitors and a thirst for movies and TV shows from around the world,” CEO Reed Hastings told shareholders in an earnings review overnight, in which he confirmed a launch in late March.
He says the international expansion strategy is to expand as fast as possible.
“Progress has been so strong that we now believe we can complete our global expansion over the next two years, while staying profitable, which is earlier than we expected,” he says.
“In Australia we will face strong competition this year, and look forward to getting started later this quarter.”
Among the competitors in Australia is Stan, the $100 million Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media joint venture.
Stan, also expected to launch this quarter, has stitched up the Australian exclusive on Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel whose main character is attorney Saul Goodman, played by Bob Odenkirk.
This blocks Netflix, which has the rights for the US and Canada, from offering the show in Australia.
Both are expected to offer their services at around $10 a month for unlimited streaming of their content.
What remains unanswered in Netflix’s move to Australia is how it will deal with existing Australian customers who use VPN connections to subscribe to the US product. Netflix has hosed down speculation that it has been trialling ways of stopping people outside the US from accessing the product.
Other local competitors to Netflix include the ASX-listed Quickflix, EzyFlix.tv and Foxtel’s Presto.
Netflix has also announced it will start streaming the controversial comedy The Interview this month.
The film about the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was pulled from movie theatres after Sony recieved threats from hackers but has been available to rent and buy on YouTube, Google Play, and XBox Video.
Netflix added 4.33 million subscribers in the last quarter, bringing total subscribers to 57.4 million globally, and expects to add another 4 million this quarter.
Net income for the quarter was $83 million, up from $48 million, and revenue $1.48 billion from $1.17 billion a year ago.