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Streaming Wars Down Under

16 Sep, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Quickflix CEO lashes out at Netflix for condoning illegal access by users and challenges Reed Hastings to add members legitimately

Netflix may have thought its biggest challenge this week was making nice with old-school French cinephiles and German ISPs.

Instead, the SVOD pioneer has apparently irked Australian rival Quickflix, whose CEO Stephen Langsford Sept. 11 penned an open letter challenging Netflix and CEO Reed Hastings to play by the rules.

Quickflix offers transactional VOD, electronic sellthrough and by-mail DVDs, in addition to subscription streaming.

With Netflix rolling out service in six European countries, and operating in over 40 others, scuttlebutt suggests its just a matter of time before it expands further into the Commonwealth. But that’s not what has Langsford in a lather.

Netflix is currently the second-largest SVOD in Australia with reportedly more than 200,000 subscribers — despite the fact it doesn’t officially operate there. Enterprising users down under are accessing Netflix by employing virtual private networks, or VPNs, to connect to an American Internet address.

Indeed, Hulu in April began blocking access to users suspected of residing abroad and employing VPNs to stream TV shows and movies. Unlike Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu doesn’t operate internationally.

Langsford contends Netflix is aware of the issue and chooses to ignore it while generating incremental revenue without investing in the Australian home entertainment market or paying territorial content rights. The CEO said Quickflix has procured the necessary rights and meets all the piracy requirements, including geo-filtering.

“So Mr. Hastings, we challenge Netflix to play by the rules. It’s how we do it here in Australia. Stop turning a blind eye to VPN services acting as a gateway to your service. Be honest and face up to the of unauthorized access to your U.S. service,” Langsford wrote. “If you want to compete in Australia, come through the front door.”

A Netflix representative declined comment.


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