COMMENT: Australia is fast becoming a content backwater, with vendors like Sony, Samsung Microsoft and Google with their new YouTube TV service choosing not to deliver online content in Australia.
Overseas, these Companies are delivering an array of content for consumers who have Internet enabled TV’s, set top boxes, Blu ray players and PC’s.
In Europe, Google last night rolled out new Channel 4 programs via their YouTube service, and in the USA Sony announced a new Netflix movie streaming service for their Bravia LCD TV’s none of these services will be available in Australia.
Yesterday Telstra snubbed the bulk of Australians by rolling out a 100MBs fibre broadband network in Melbourne with the rest of Australia forced to put up with speeds that rarely get past 24 MBs.
They also announced a new set top box with 200GB of storage and IP connectivity. However the big problem is content with both movie and music Companies refusing to allow their content to be delivered in Australia because of deals with the likes of Blockbuster, Video Ezy and free to air TV networks.
The Internet content that is being promoted by Telstra BigPond and TiVo with their Blockbuster relationship is content that has already appeared in movie cinemas and DVD rental stores.
Denying Australian consumers content does not make sense, as TV broadcasters in Europe and the USA have content rights similar to Australian TV stations.
There are also large networks of DVD rental stores and kiosks which are now under threat as downloaded Internet content starts to take off. Recent research shows that the US market has grown 39% during the past two quarters with several organisations now delivering thousands of movies, video’s, TV shows and music services.
None of these services are legally available in Australia. Last night Netflix officially expanded its streaming capabilities to Sony Bravia TVs and Blu-ray DVD players.
The service is also available to Sony PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and TiVo owners in the USA. Only recently has Microsoft delivered a movie service for Xbox 360 users however it is nowhere near the services that are available to their European and US Xbox 360 orWindows Media Centre users.
YouTube has launched a new shows section for UK users as it taps into rising online demand for full-length television programmes. The new section follows a landmark deal with Channel 4 announced last month and will include full-length episodes of Peep Show, Hollyoaks, Gordon Ramsay’s F Word and Jamie at Home. Shows from other media partners include Dead Ringers, ITN News and Baywatch.
At launch, YouTube is posting around 5,000 videos, of which almost 4,000 are full-length programmes, from more than 60 partners.
None of this content will be made available to Australian viewers. Also snubbing Australia is the BBC who is restricting the use of their iPlayer to visitors who have an Australia IP address.
All programmes on the new Google YouTube service will be available free of charge and, where the content owner has enabled it, they will carry advertising. Channel 4’s shows will feature advertisers including Virgin Media, Universal, Orange, Samsung and Pepsi.
Several vendors that ChannelNews has spoken to including executives from the likes of Telstra, IceTV and Panasonic have said that content providers are refusing pont blank to allow content to be distributed in Australia.
2 years ago Telstra built a content vault in an effort to settle the fears of Hollywood Studio’s who were worried that their content would be copied in Australia. This appears to have been a big flop with Telstra still failing to secure major Hollywood content deals.
The move by content providers and distribution Companies like YouTube and Netflix to deny Australians access to content could have a profound impact on the sale of IP enabled TV’s, PVR’s set top boxes and Blu ray players going forward. Without strong content offerings the devices are not worth the extra money that manufacturers will be asking.