Saturday, August 02, 2014


Rejoice friends!

Netflix, our noble savior has arrived!

No more shall Australian audiences wait six months for the same TV shows as the rest of the world.

Never again shall a DVD be a more viable option than simply staying at home and using technology you already own.

The prices shall be lower. The entertainment plentiful.

And the convenience, oh the convenience, shall be the likes of which we have never seen.

A new golden age. Eden renewed. The cornucopia arrived at last.

And if you believe any of that, you are living in a fool's paradise.

I have two words for you. Rupert. Murdoch.

Yes, that Rupert Murdoch. The one who owns both a Hollywood major studio, 20th Century Fox, and an Australian cable television provider, Foxtel. Oh, and that same Australian cable television provider is trying to create a streaming service for its licensed content. In direct competition with Netflix's business model.

The same Rupert Murdoch who, in 1975, ordered his newspaper editors to 'Kill Whitlam', the Australian Prime Minister at the time. Of course, he meant politically, not literally.

The effect, however, was almost literal. Ten months later, Gough Whitlam was ousted as Australian Prime Minister.

When a man this powerful is lobbying against you, how easy do you think business becomes?

But Rupert's not alone. Did I mention the other Hollywood studios, complicit in denying Australian audiences convenient access to content? Those same Hollywood studios, who decry Australian piracy publicly, then resist easier online access to content for Australians because the current system means Hollywood can extort a higher price from antipodeans.

I wrote about this extortion, this 'dirty little secret', previously:

So, before you plan your 'Welcome Netflix' party, imagine this.

A group of Australians are stuck on a small island in the middle of the Pacific ocean.

There is a plane, flown by an independent pilot for a price, which airdrops supplies to the stranded Australians, at an inflated cost. Let's call this independent aviator, Rupert.

Meanwhile, on the distant mainland, a group of large organisations have built an enormous catapult. This catapult launches important perishables to the stranded Australians, again for a hugely inflated price. Let's call this group of organisations, Hollywood.

For many years, Rupert and Hollywood have been making a very, VERY comfortable living charging inflated prices to these marooned Australians.

But suddenly, a new structure appears on the mainland's shore. It's the foundations of a bridge. The construction trajectory is the island. At last, the Australians will be free again. Free to make choices. This bridge is called, Netflix.

Rupert and Hollywood soon realise what is happening.

Rupert diverts his flights to drop explosives on the expanding bridge construction.

Meanwhile, the catapult turns. Salvo after salvo rattles the bridge.

Still construction continues.

Rupert doubles his efforts. He calls in favours. The bridge has its building permit rescinded.

Relentlessly, the plane drops waves of bombs. The catapult seemingly never rests.

The bridge builders fight back. The permit is restored. The Netflix bridge continues to grow.

Frantic now. Attack after attack. Destruction. War.

But to no avail. Netflix arrives on the island.

The stranded Australians are free!!

But wait.

Enduring and perseverance came at a cost. The bridge toll, which was supposed to be affordable to the stranded Australians, is now more than what they would have paid for the airdrops and catapult deliveries.

And that bridge? After the campaign of punishment it received, the foundations are shaky, at best. The bridge is a mere shell of what was originally planned.

Because war takes a toll. And Rupert Murdoch, his Fox empire, and the studios know how to fight it.

So if you think, for one second, that the major studios will deign to lose money through a lower wholesale price for content in Australia, or that Rupert's 20th Century Fox will allow Netflix to open in Australia, without a fight of unholy armageddon proportions, you too are living on a fantasy island in the middle of the Pacific.

Yes, Netflix may arrive here. It will, however, be a shell of the American service.

But all is not lost.

The bridge will be shaky. The journey perilous. But we'll get off the stranded island.

A better future will come for Australian audiences.

And when it does, we won't forget. We'll never forget.

Who built the bridge to save us.

And who tried to tear it down.

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