Netflix's Aussie strategy: Let 'em VPN, at least up until launch

SVOD provider Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX), which launches in Australia on March 24, has taken a page out of HBO's marketing playbook. The company is reportedly "looking the other way" regarding VPN masking, which allows Aussies to access the U.S. region of its streaming service, in order to build hype around its upcoming local product, Mashable says.

It's a different tack than that taken by Hulu, which cracked down on VPN masking in April 2014 to keep users in Australia and other countries from accessing the U.S. version of its online video service. The move generated plenty of complaints, including some from users based in the U.S. who found themselves unable to access Hulu because their IP address had been targeted.

HBO has historically given barely a glance to reports of rampant password-sharing between online users who want to access its TV Everywhere component, HBO Go. The reason, its executives have explained at investor conferences, is that the buzz such access builds is bigger than any potential loss of subscriber revenue.

As many as 200,000 Australians may have been accessing Netflix US via VPNs, according to ZDNet. Cliff Edwards, director of corporate communications and technology for Netflix, told the publication that the "better experience" afforded by Netflix Australia will reduce the attractiveness of VPN masking.

Netflix is peering via Megaport, Equinix and NWS-IX in Sydney, which will speed delivery to subscriber homes in the country, and the SVOD provider has agreements in place with iiNet and Optus to stream its content to subscribers unmetered. Netflix currently will not use CDNs (content delivery networks) to further speed its content delivery due to copyright restrictions in Australia, ZDNet reported. That's a different configuration than online video delivery in the U.S., much of which relies heavily on CDNs provided by companies like Akamai, and which are subject to metering by ISPs that have broadband usage caps.

Excitement around Netflix's launch in the Australian market appears to be pretty keen. The provider decided to release its pricing and content lineup a couple of days ahead of its launch, after those details were leaked on reddit. Subscription rates start at AUD $8.99 (USD $7.08) for a standard-definition, single-stream plan, AUD $11.99 (USD $9.45) for its HD and two-streaming-devices plan, and AUD $14.99 (USD $11.81) for its 4K/UHD and four-device plan. Its usual free month promotion for new users will also be in place.

Similar to other international launches, Netflix will provide a mix of popular Hollywood movies and TV series along with local content licensed from providers like Australian Broadcast Corporation.

For more:
- Mashable has this story
- ZDNet has this story

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