Stephen Langsford, the Perth-based CEO of the ASX-listed streaming media group Quickflix, objects to the way the US-based giant entertainment company is operating in Australia.
He’s so mad at what he calls the back door way Netfix is accessing Australian consumers of streaming media that he has written a letter to Reed Hastings, the CEO of the US company.
Estimates range from 50,000 to 200,000 Australians who are accessing Netflix by using services which disguise the fact that they are in Australia.
Netflix has a vast library of movies and television series for which it has paid the US rights for. Quicklfix says Netflix is getting Australians on the cheap because Netflix hasn’t paid the content owners for the local Australian rights.
This is Langsford’s letter to his US counterpart:
Dear Mr Hastings:
If you want Netflix to compete in Australia come through the front door.
Instead you’re currently enjoying a free ride in Australia ignoring unauthorised “back door” access to your US service and thereby taking revenue away from local services which are investing to service the local market and endeavouring to provide choice and competition to consumers.
Netflix not only knowingly collects revenues from subscribers with unauthorised access to your US service, investing nothing in the Australian market nor paying for Australian rights to the content you make available, but also tacitly encourages Australian consumers to inadvertently breach the copyright of the content owners.
Unlike yourself, Quickflix has obtained all necessary Australian rights to the content on its platform, faithfully meets all necessary security requirements, including geo-filtering imposed by the content rights holders, and continues to reinvest in its service with the goal of offering the very best service in the market to its customers.
Quickflix is growing its streaming service and is by far the most accessible streaming service in the market with Australian customers having access through almost half a million registered devices including smart TVS, game consoles, mobiles and tablets.
But if Netflix continues to filch revenues through allowing unauthorised access, Quickflix and other local services will not be as viable as they could be nor compete as vigorously as they could.
Without strong local competition Australian audiences will suffer in the long run with fewer choices, less compelling offerings and higher prices.
So Mr Hastings, we challenge Netflix to play by the rules. It’s how we do it here in Australia.
Stop turning a blind eye to the VPN services acting as a gateway to your service. Be honest and face up to the issue of unauthorised access to your US service. Have the courage to limit your service only to the territories where you have legally obtained the rights to operate by abiding by the geo-filtering obligations required by your content license agreements. And do so immediately.
Quickflix is pro-consumer, pro-competition, and pro-Australia. Should you decide to enter Australia through the front door, Quickflix will be happy to compete with you, fairly and squarely.
Competition in streaming media is intensifying in Australia with Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media announcing a $100 million joint venture.