Sit Down and Meet Stan

Nic Crowther
Wed 20 May

Australia, meet Stan. Stan, meet Australia.

Oh, you haven’t met Stan yet, either?

Well, you will soon. Rather than joining the pirates of BitTorrent, or negotiating VPNs for access to overseas streaming services, Channel Nine and Fairfax have joined together to bring a whole new service to Australia with supposed truckload of content for what promises to be a very low price.

It’s a delicious option in a market that is increasingly turning towards on-demand services to watch foreign-made drama and comedy. While rumours continue to swirl that Netflix, the US-based behemoth, is coming in 2015, Aussies continue to find workarounds due to the incredible value of almost unlimited content for a monthly price less than that of a movie ticket. It is estimated 200,000 Australians are regularly watching Netflix from the comfort of their couch for less than $15.00 per month.

Stan needs to be a better friend than that, and one that serves up a lot of content. If overseas copyright owners have sold off highly prized content (think The Walking DeadGame of Thrones and the Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul), then users might just stick with their overseas arrangements. They’ve already made a decision based on content; location of the business is unlikely to play a part in it.

It looks like Foxtel has got a whiff of the shifting winds with new prices announced this week – and effective immediately. On a 12 Month Plan (and for $25.00 per week) you can grab 45 channels and a Foxtel Go. However, this is not a streaming service - it’s much more the stick-box-on-your-telly style of service, but the benefit is you do get a bunch of live news services and music channels, so it could easily work alongside a service such as Stan.

The only real established streaming service in Australia, Quickflix, must also be feeling the heat. Currently their streaming service comes in at $10.00 per month, but has lacked the compelling content offering that US Netflix offers for essentially the same price and a bit of fiddling.

Even if all these services make it to market, the main danger is that it results a carving-up of offerings, and fragmentation drives users back towards underground methods of obtaining the content they want to watch. It has long been said, and the iTunes model has proved, that by making content accessible, affordable and instant, most people will happily pay.