Netflix Australia to start streaming March 24, has free-data deal with iiNet

The popular US video service has announced a launch date in Australia alongside some other telco and device news, ending months of speculation.

Nic Healey Senior Editor / Australia
Nic Healey is a Senior Editor with CNET, based in the Australia office. His passions include bourbon, video games and boring strangers with photos of his cat.
Luke Lancaster Associate Editor / Australia
Luke Lancaster is an Associate Editor with CNET, based out of Australia. He spends his time with games (both board and video) and comics (both reading and writing).
Nic Healey
Luke Lancaster
3 min read

The Australian arm of the Netflix video streaming service will flip the switch on March 24, with people able to subscribe to watch an array of TV and movies on demand from that date.

Back in November last year, Netflix confirmed that it would be bringing its service to Australia, although it would only give an approximate launch of March at that time.

During CES 2015 Cliff Edwards, the director of corporate communications and technology at Netflix, also said that the company had no plans to formally announce pricing until much closer to -- or even on -- the launch date.

Similar to the structure in the US, Netflix Australia will offer three tiers of service: Basic, SD streaming to one screen; Standard, simultaneous streaming to two screens and HD where available; and Premium, four-screen streaming and 4K ultra-high definition where available. Specific details on monthly pricing will be available at launch.

While pricing wasn't announced, Netflix did reveal details of a deal with iiNet to provide "quota-free" streaming for iiNet customers, making Netflix the first local streaming services to offer unmetered access.

Optus Broadband has subsequently indicated it will also offer Netflix as an unmetered service. An Optus spokesperson said: "Optus broadband consumer customers will also be able to access as much Netflix content as they want, without metering. Netflix Australian content won't count towards a customer's data cap."

The streaming service has also partnered with Vodafone in New Zealand, and while NZ customers won't get the same quota-free streaming, Vodafone subscribers will receive "several months" of free access to the service.

Netflix has also announced that Australian and New Zealand customers who purchase an Xbox One "starting 24 March and for a limited time only" will receive three months' subscription to the streaming service.

In addition to Mac and PC browsers, Netflix has announced that at launch the service will be available on "smart televisions manufactured by Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Hisense, Fetch TV's second-generation set-top box, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U, Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Apple and Android tablets and smartphones."

Netflix also announced that gift cards would be available. The cards will come in denominations of AU$20, AU$30 and AU$50 and can be purchased from a variety of retailers including Woolworths, Coles, Big W, 7-Eleven, Australia Post and Officeworks.

The current streaming catalogue includes Netflix Original "House of Cards" -- including the brand new third season. The other Netflix Originals confirmed for launch are "Marco Polo," "BoJack Horseman," "Virunga," "Mission Blue," "Uganda Be Kidding Me, Live" and "Jim Jeffries: Bare." Others, including "Bloodlines," "Marvel's Daredevil" and "Sens8" are confirmed for post-launch availability.

Netflix also has a deal with Beyond Entertainment that will see it have streaming rights for a number of Australian comedy specials and children's programming. Other content partners include Roadshow Entertainment, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and The Walt Disney Company. Netflix will provide updates on available content via its Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Netflix launches into a busy landscape in Australia, with established competitors such as Quickflix recently joined by newcomers such as Stan and Foxtel's Presto TV. With such an untested market, it's unclear if Australian consumers can support multiple streaming services or whether we'll see a thinning of the herd as 2015 progresses.

Updated at 10.25 a.m. AEDT: Added information around Optus' unmetered data offering.

Updated at 2.20 p.m. AEDT: Added information on Netflix device compatibility.

CNET's Luke Lancaster contributed to this report.