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684 000 households are paying for content through international stores

CHOICE says consumers should be given greater access to international streaming services

21 November 2014

New research from CHOICE has found an increasing number of Australians are dodging online geoblocks and purchasing movies and TV shows directly from overseas.                 

The research found that 684,000 Australian households already pay for content through subscriptions to overseas providers like Hulu, Netflix, Vudu or by buying direct through an overseas online store like iTunes USA.

“A significant number of Australians are already buying their content overseas. Just like big businesses who seek out the best deal anywhere in the world, Australian consumers are looking for the most affordable way to get the content they want,” says CHOICE Director of Campaigns and Communications, Matt Levey. 

“This new data shows approximately 340,000 Australian households are already jumping through hoops to access the US streaming service Netflix, with 428,000 households saying they’re likely to use it in the next 12 months – and that was before the company confirmed its Australian expansion plans.

“It is remarkable that a service which is officially blocked to Australians is the biggest single driver of competition in our entertainment market.

“In recent months, we have seen Foxtel drop its prices and new streaming services launch, and much of the commentary is about competition from a service that technically doesn’t exist here – that doesn’t spend a cent on local marketing and requires a VPN to access it. 

“It’s a perfect case study of how competition from international markets can shake up protected industries and deliver benefits for Australian consumers. We’re calling on the Competition Policy Review to super-charge that process,” Mr Levey says.

CHOICE has used its submission to the Competition Policy Review Draft Report to support key recommendations would lead to cheaper content for Australians, including:
  • Conducting a review of Australia’s intellectual property framework to make sure the system does not protect out-dated business models and sustain price discrimination;
  • Reforming the law so that copyright licenses are no longer exempt from anti-competitive conduct provisions;
  • Addressing international price discrimination by removing restrictions on parallel imports and implementing the recommendations of the IT Pricing Inquiry; and
  • Enabling more consumers to take legal steps to circumvent geoblocks.                                            
CHOICE’s survey showed that reform in this area has substantial public support, with 59 per cent of respondents agreeing that they should not be blocked from accessing TV shows and movies from legitimate overseas websites.

Notes to editors: 

The survey was conducted with 1046 participants from the general population from 31 October to 7 November 2014 by iView for CHOICE. Final data was weighted to ensure it is representative of the Australian population as per ABS Census 2011.

The survey found that:
  • 684,000 households, or 8% of Australians aged 18-65, access overseas content through subscriptions with Hulu, Netflix, Vudu or by buying direct through an overseas online store like iTunes USA.
  • Approximately 340,000 Australian households currently access overseas-based subscription service Netflix. 428,000 households said they were very likely to use Netflix in the next 12 months.[1]
  • 59 per cent of respondents agree that they shouldn't be blocked from accessing TV shows or movies from legitimate overseas websites. Only 7 per cent of people disagreed with the statement that “I shouldn’t be blocked from accessing TV shows/movies from legitimate overseas websites.”[2]
When presented with the statement “I shouldn’t be blocked from accessing TV shows/movies from legitimate overseas websites” 38%of people strongly agreed, 21% agreed, 17% neither agreed or disagreed, 3% disagreed, 5% strongly disagreed and 16% didn’t know.       

[1] We have assumed each respondent represents one household only. The survey was restricted to respondents aged 18-65yrs only, household figures calculated using 'total' households in Australia available at: https://aifs.gov.au/institute/info/charts/households/index.html)

[2] When presented with the statement “I shouldn’t be blocked from accessing TV shows/movies from legitimate overseas websites” 38%of people strongly agreed, 21% agreed, 17% neither agreed or disagreed, 3% disagreed, 5% strongly disagreed and 16% didn’t know. 


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