Netflix confirms Australian launch for March 2015

After months of speculation and rumours, Netflix finally announces it will launch in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

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Claire Reilly
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Netflix is coming to Australia. Netflix

After speculation across the Australian media industry about the rumoured local launch of Netflix, the US-based movie and TV subscription streaming service announced it will launch in Australia and New Zealand in March 2015.

Netflix was widely anticipated to come to Australian shores in 2015, with local rights holders saying the US company was in talks to tie up content deals with the major studios ahead of launch.

The price tag for Australian subscribers has not yet been confirmed, but Netflix is promising "a curated selection of popular movies and TV shows in high-definition or even 4K where available" across "hundreds of Internet-connected devices".

In terms of content, Netflix is already talking up its original programming, including series such as 'Marco Polo' and cult hit 'BoJack Horseman'. It is also promising that the selection for Australian and New Zealand viewers will "expand in 2015" to include shows such as the original series 'Bloodline' (starring Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn), Marvel's 'Daredevil' franchise, 'Sense8' (from the creators of the 'Matrix' trilogy) and the Netflix premiere of 'Grace and Frankie', starring Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

Australian users will be able to sign-up for a one month free trial then move onto Netflix's three-tiered pricing plans, which include options to stream "standard definition video, high-definition and 4K ultra-HD, to one or more screens at a time".

The move into the Asia Pacific region caps off a busy period of expansion for Netflix, including a major push into Europe with launches in six countries including Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. The company has long had its eyes on regions outside the US to push up subscriber numbers, and with Germany and France alone boasting a combined population of 147 million, the drive into Europe sees the company gaining access to its biggest pool of potential subscribers to date.

Speaking during a results presentation last year, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the company was "choosing a business strategy which has us put essentially all of our domestic profits into international expansion". Now, with a base in Australia, Netflix is poised to further its reach into Asia, including the lucrative Chinese market.

Full details on Australian pricing, programming and supported devices are set to be announced "at a later date"; however, Netflix says its Australian service will be "available at launch on smart TVs, tablets and smartphones, computers and a range of Internet-capable game consoles and set-top boxes".

Netflix is currently taking sign-ups for early alerts on its Australian and New Zealand launch on its website.

According to Australian statistics released by the Federal Department of Communications at a recent Online Copyright Infringement Forum, of those Australians with at least one media subscription, 27 percent are currently accessing Netflix through a VPN.

The US company has come under fire from local services, including Australian-based Quickflix, for "turning a blind eye" to what has been deemed "back door" access to the service.

Rights holders have also lobbied for the US version of the service to be blocked in Australia, with the CEO of AHEDA (the industry body representing a number of major home entertainment rights holders) saying in September this year that rights holders were "requesting for it [Netflix] to be blocked now, not just when it comes to Australia".

Updated at 11:30 a.m. AEST to include further details about European expansion.