Virgin wants in on Australian IPTV scene



blog It seems that no matter where you look, someone is trying to fix the Australian Internet television market. Attorney-General George Brandis, as his Labor predecessor Mark Dreyfus did before him, is trying to block Internet piracy. Quickflix and FetchTV are still trying to create viable competitors to Foxtel’s pay TV operation. And Foxtel itself is obviously trying to make as much hay as possible while its sun still shines. Into this fraught situation comes Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. The Financial Review tells us this morning (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“A consortium with links to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is investigating partnerships with some of Australia’s major television ­networks to launch a subscription ­video-on-demand service over ­broadband that could pre-empt the expected arrival of US giant Netflix.”

While we think most Australian consumers would welcome an increased level of competition in Australia’s subscription TV market, one does wonder what possible impact Virgin could make. It won’t have the buying power in Australia to stop Foxtel locking up extremely popular shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones, and most of the rest is already available via platforms such as Quickflix, which have struggled to make headway.

We suspect it will take a combination of a very advanced technological platform and very good content licensing arrangements for Virgin to get anywhere. It wouldn’t hurt if Virgin was able to splurge mega-dollars on marketing its service, perhaps using tie-ins with its existing Virgin credit card, mobile and airline businesses in Australia. However, if anyone can break through this mess, it’s Branson, who specialises in causing disruption to existing industries. Let’s hope he can come up with a winner — so that we can finally catch up with our American cousins when it comes to the (legal) availability of great content.

Image credit: Virgin Mobile


  1. Isn’it it not so popular down here because of our internet speeds?
    I know I can’t get FetchTV because I’m under 3.5mbs :(

  2. Until the content Mafia gets it into their thick scones that Aussies dont want to pay for piecemeal content and give us NetFlix style “all you can eat” content for a fixed monthly price, myself and many others will be avoiding local options like the plague!

    I recently had a 2 week “free trial” of QuickFlix on my TiVo (they ditched CASPA for QF) and while the selection of content was very good (big improvement), and the PQ and SQ where very good, all the good new release content was PPV despite the service costing $14.95 per month (more than it costs me to get NetFlix + UnoDNS)!!!

    As a result I called them up and told them that until they implemented a NetFlix approach to ALL their content I would not be one of their customers – I got the usual line that it was out of their control and forced on them by the content rights-holders etc. While I know this to be true It’s not my problem, I will not support local services that make me pay more for content than an OS based service!

  3. The real question is, knowing the mess of rights holders, middlemen, exclusivity contracts, and other barriers to entry in the IPTV market in Australia, would you be prepared to invest in deploying a system that still won’t be a better (and/or cheaper) alternative than Netflix and a DNS service?

    It’s going to take a lot to change not only the mindset, but the ingrained behaviour that has developed as a response to the shackles placed on the frustrated consumers in the TV/movies on demand sector.

    • IMO there needs to be some sort of Digital “Video Store” laws enacted to prevent exclusive content lock downs – this works perfectly in the Physical media space (can you imagine having to visit Blockbuster for MGM content and Video Ezy for Universal content? Sounds stupid but that is what we now have in the digital delivery space!) but so far no none seems to realise this is required to create a genuinely competitive digital media delivery market place.

      PS. it will never happen while Murdoch’s Political Wing (LNP) is running the country.

  4. Not interested until we get broadband capable of 1080p resolutions at any time of the day and in all conditions while also being able to fulfil the requirements of other household computer needs (uploading, consuming and communicating).

    LNP’s copper crapfest won’t cut it I’m afraid and so nothing will take off as ubiquity is not available to Australia.

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