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Netflix is coming to Australia in 2015

Movie lovers will be rejoicing as the US streaming giant confirms that it will launch its service in Australia and New Zealand in March 2015.

As many as 200,000 Australians are estimated to be subscribing to the US-based service already, bypassing geoblocking measures Netflix has in place. Netflix offers hundreds of movies, classic and original TV shows, all for one monthly subscription fee.

Not only does Netflix offer classic movies and TV shows, but the streaming giant has also begun developing its own shows, including the likes of Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, as well as upcoming series Marco Polo and the cult hit BoJack Horseman.

Pricing for Australian views hasn’t been confirmed as yet, but US subscribers pay around SU$10 per month, so a comparable price is likely. Australia’s own version of Netflix, Quickflix Ltd. (ASX: QFX) charges $9.99 per month for its streaming service.

It’s just another threat to our free-to-air broadcasters, Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX: TEN), Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC) and Seven West Media Ltd (ASX: SWM). Already facing dwindling advertising revenues, now they face losing even more viewers, which would see those ad revenues fall further. Ten appears to be facing a potential takeover to boot.

But Netflix Australia may not offer all the programs its US viewers have access to, and may not be the big threat it appears to be. The reason is content licencing.

Pay-TV operator Foxtel, jointly owned by Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX: TLS) and News Corp (ASX: NWS) already licences some of Netflix’s content. It’s yet to be seen how the company works around that.

Netflix will still need to sign new content deals in Australia before it can offer anything like the variety and range it has in its US service. Quickflix CEO Stephen Langford has been reported as saying it can take years to develop a content platform for a particular country.

That suggests that Netflix may not be all is cracked up to be when it eventually arrives in Australia. For one, the blockbuster series Game of Thrones is exclusive content to HBO, so won’t be available on Netflix.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in Telstra Corporation. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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