Film buffs may bemoan the state of content streaming in Australia, but the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association says prices may not be as bad as some consumers think, according to new research commissioned by the industry body.
While accepting Australia still has a way to go on release windows for home entertainment, the CEO of AHEDA Simon Bush said Australia had some of the most competitive prices in the world for video-on-demand.
Bush's comments came following the publishing of research from IHS Technology, commissioned by AHEDA, which showed the pricing disparity for streaming content in Australia compared to overseas regions was narrowing.
According to the research, of those Australians looking to access digital copies of new release films (classified as those titles released to market within the last 52 weeks), 83 percent choose a video-on-demand service (classified as renting to view, rather than EST -- which is downloading to own).
Based on this, IHS conducted a review of pricing for both internet VOD and pay-TV VOD (Foxtel Box Office) and found that Australians are paying, on average, AU$4.25 for every standard definition new release film, "making it second cheapest out of surveyed countries and only 32 cents behind the United States" according to AHEDA.
When it comes to HD VOD content, Australians pay AU$5.19 per title on average, which AHEDA says is the "lowest average price in the world...compared to the United States at $5.30 and the United Kingdom at $6.41" (in Australian dollars).
The research compared titles on a like-for-like basis across platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and both the PlayStation and Xbox stores. Titles were included based on volume sales and pricing was standardised to Australian dollars.
|VOD New Release market||SD average price (AU$)||HD average price (AU$)|
Speaking about the findings, Bush said the research showed Australians were getting a good price when it came to accessing content on demand.
"Most Australians, 83 percent, choose video-on-demand...for new release content rather than download to buy. As a result, on VOD average pricing, we're doing okay in Australia," he said.
"If you look at VOD...we are competitive. If you look at TV content on EST -- episodic prices -- globally we're the same," he added. "On some individual titles on download-to-buy films, yes there's still a bit of a price disparity between the market that everyone chooses to look at, which is the US...I would agree with that.
"But I would say in response to that particular price disparity that prices are coming down in Australia. For people who put a blanket on 'people pay more in Australia' hopefully the research we've released will dispel some of those myths in the form of viewing and purchasing content."
When it comes to the delay between cinematic and home entertainment release, Bush said Australia was improving, but still had a way to go.
"Overseas markets can be a bit earlier in releasing their home entertainment product compared to us, but we're looking to fix that as well," he said.
"There are a number of titles we're looking at bringing out within 90 days from theatrical release to home entertainment release, reducing the window from the traditional 120 days.
But while he said that pricing and availability should not be used as "an excuse for piracy" he conceded that, for some consumers, piracy would always be on the table.
"Where you do make it available at a reasonable price, people still pirate regardless of availability."