Disney’s branded subscription streaming video service, Disney+, has quietly launched in Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico — and in the process put immediate competitive pressure on reigning SVOD services Netflix and Stan with more than 11 million and 2.9 subscribers, respectively.
The arrival of the $8.99 (Australian) monthly or $89.99 annual Disney+ service features the identical 600 movies and 7,000 episodic programs available in the U.S. and Holland. And for the first time, the first 29 seasons of “The Simpsons” are available Down Under.
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The Australian debut coincided with Disney content leaving Stan and also being removed from Foxtel, according to Ampere Analysis.
Disney+ household subscription affords up to four people streaming at the same time, downloads on up to 10 devices and the ability to set up to seven profiles.
Disney+ bows in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain on March 31, 2020.
Netflix has 11.2 million subscribers in Australia — making the country of 24.6 million people the service’s second-most popular region behind the United States.
The SVOD behemoth, which launched service in Australia and New Zealand in 2015, saw subscriptions increase more 25% through February year-over-year, according to new data from Roy Morgan research.
SVOD continues to mushroom in popularity down under with nearly 14 million Aussies having access to some form online TV, up 11.8% from a year ago.
The leading Australian-owned SVOD is Stan, which is accessible by over 2.6 million subs — up 45.2% from a year ago. Stan is a subsidiary of the Nine Entertainment Company.
SVOD services YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red), Fetch and Amazon Prime Video also saw significant sub increases.
YouTube Premium has over 1.2 million users, up 31.9%, and Fetch has nearly 760,000 users, up by 9%. Meanwhile, Prime Video more than doubled its user base by 116.7% to over 570,000.
“Pay-TV/Subscription TV services are an increasingly competitive marketplace in Australia,” Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, said in a statement. “Going forward the battleground will be content and cost.”
New Zealand Feb. 18 joined the European Union and Australia in seeking to tax Internet behemoths such as Amazon, Google and Facebook on revenue generated within its border.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement in a post-cabinet press conference.
The proposed 2% to 3% tax would apply to any purchases and services sold by Internet firms regardless of their actual physical presence in the country.
“Some companies can do significant business in New Zealand without being taxed for the income they earn,” Ardern said. “This is not fair, and this is not sustainable.”
Indeed, Google’s subsidiary in New Zealand reportedly paid $393,000 in taxes in 2017 despite generating hundreds of millions in revenue.
The government said the tax could generate upwards of $55 million in additional annual revenue.
“Our current tax system is not fair in the way it treats individual tax payers, and how it treats multinationals,” said Ardern.
The move by New Zealand mirrors efforts in the United States by individual states such as South Dakota, which had its e-commerce tax lawsuit against online furniture retailer Wayfair reached the U.S. Supreme Court.
The high court last summer ruled states could charge taxes on companies doing business in the state without an actual physical presence.
A Georgia lawmaker this month proposed legislation seeking to tax digital entertainment services such as Netflix and Spotify 4% in an effort to compensate for declining pay-TV taxes statewide.
Such a user tax currently exists in Hawaii, Washington and Pennsylvania.
More consumers in New Zealand are streaming video entertainment. Nearly 70% of Kiwis surveyed consider over-the-top video a good value proposition compared to pay-TV, according to new data from Canstar Blue. That was up 5% from last year.
Not surprisingly, Netflix has a lot to do with changing consumer behavior. Since launching service in Australia and New Zealand three years ago – the first in Asia Pacific for Netflix – consumer adoption has skyrocketed.
Netflix growth in Australia exceeded TV broadcast over an 18-month period last year – reaching more than 7.5 million subscribers through June, according to Roy Morgan Research.
But that affection didn’t immediately replicate itself in neighboring New Zealand.
“Until relatively recently, our TV choice was terrestrial TV, or paid service, Sky,” said Jose George, GM at Canstar. A sentiment, George said, was underscored by public perception that over-the-top platforms offered limited content.
“[Yet], streaming services continue to evolve, offering exclusive TV series on standard or HD services at a fraction of the cost [of pay-TV],” George said. “You don’t have to scratch too deep to see why there’s been such a surge in consumer sentiment.”
The uptick in over-the-top video in New Zealand has been helped by billions in infrastructure investment, resulting in more than 1.9 million broadband connections in 2015.
“Evidently, Kiwis love the Internet and the services it allows us to tap into,” George said.