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Telstra, Vodafone eye closer Netflix partnership as three-month Optus deal comes to an end

netflix_australia-234x107-234x107Vodafone and Telstra have both hinted at intentions to forge closer ties with Netflix after the US streaming giant’s “exclusive” three-month deal with Optus came to an end.

The telcos today refused to confirm whether talks have taken place with Netflix, following the conclusion of the Optus partnership, but stressed they are keen to provide the widest and “best” in premium entertainment.

Both will view a partnership with Netflix as a key element of their content offering given the popularity of the service since it launched locally in March.

While other firms, including iiNet, have been heavily promoting their unmetered content deals with Netflix, only Optus has been offering free mobile and broadband subscriptions, hence the “exclusivity” of the deal.

Optus, which has been using British comedian Ricky Gervais to promote its partnership with Netflix, refused to comment on whether the three-month offer was renewable or whether Netflix would remain a core pillar of its marketing. It also declined to say what impact the offer has had in terms of attracting new customers.

A spokeswoman said in a statement: Optus is proud to have helped introduce Netflix to Australians through our exclusive three-month mobile and broadband subscription offer.

“We will continue to explore opportunities to partner with the world’s best entertainment brands so that more Australians can enjoy video on demand both at home and on the go. Optus broadband customers can continue to enjoy Netflix content un-metered.”

Netflix said it did not comment on its “partnerships, rumour or speculation”.

Vodafone is thought to be in talks with several content providers as it looks to build on its existing deals with Stan and Spotify, partnerships which the telco has been heavily promoting in its marketing.

Speculation of a deal has also been heightened by the Vodafone Group’s strong global ties with Netflix, with Vodafone UK and Vodafone NZ holding exclusive partnerships with the streaming firm, with subscriptions linked to its Red plans.

“We are committed to bringing our customers the best in premium entertainment,” a Vodafone spokesperson said.

Telstra, meanwhile, stressed it remains open to working with all streaming firms despite its ties to Presto through its 50 per cent ownership of Foxtel.

“Our clear goal in this space is for Telstra to lead the industry in giving customers a great content experience,” a spokesman said. “We want to do this by not only aggregating great content, but also providing the broadest content experience of any other Australian ISP.

“Rather than restrict our customers’ choices, we are open to hosting all SVOD (streaming video on demand services) on our platforms and making it easy for them to get all the content they want in the one place.”

Telstra added that it already has Netflix “peering arrangements” –  which enable networks to interconnect directly to exchange traffic – with the telco “working on opportunities to integrate the service on appropriate platforms”.

A new study by Telsyte has last week with two million streaming video on demand (SVOD) subscriptions, across various providers, thought to have been registered as of June 2015.

The company said it believes that some 1.5m of these are paid subscriptions, as opposed to trials, with Telsyte noting that many of those subscribing were taking up multiple services such as Netflix, Stan and Presto.

Steve Jones

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