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Netflix hopes to bring end to piracy

Forget bringing down Foxtel, Nine and Seven, Netflix’s main aim is to end online piracy in Australia.

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The US streaming service says its entrance to the Australian market on Tuesday will not disrupt the traditional television industry, or even pay TV operator Foxtel.

Founder and chief executive Reed Hastings instead has his eye on ending the illegal downloading of movies and TV programs not screened by traditional broadcasters.

“We’re really focused on heading off piracy,” he told AAP.

“There’s big piracy in Australia, and part of that is because there is not an easy, affordable service.

“What we have seen in Canada is as we grew, the amount of piracy declined, so that would be the hope here.”

He believes most people would prefer to watch TV and films legally, as long as the content is available immediately and at an affordable price.

Netflix’s Australian catalogue includes House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black, but is currently smaller than those available in the US and other countries.

There are plans to expand its offerings in the coming months.

Netflix joins a growing list of online streaming services to hit the local market, including Nine and Fairfax Media’s Stan and Foxtel’s Presto.

Growth in the streaming industry has prompted Foxtel to restructure its pricing policies and prompted all players to aggressively bid for broadcast rights for popular programs including Game Of Thrones, Mad Men and Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul.

But Mr Hastings does not expect Netflix’s arrival to trigger Foxtel’s demise, even if the US giant achieves its long-term goal of reaching up to three million Australian homes.

“It’s not a substitute, people are not cancelling cable to watch Netflix,” he said.

“Cable is 10 times more expensive, and we don’t have sports.

“We’re a supplementary channel.”

He also said the service works well at Australia’s slower internet speeds, and is confident internet data caps, a potential barrier to heavy users of streaming services, will continue to grow.

 

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