It is no secret that video on demand (VOD) is taking off in Australia, in a big way. Netflix’s entry has legitimised the market, and local players Stan and Presto have also made a splash. Earlier local entrants, like Quickflix and Fetch TV are also hanging on in face of the onslaught.
But what is a secret is subscriber numbers. In a new, competitive and fast-growing market companies are typically reluctant to disclose such figures, leaving it up to others to make estimates. The figure on Netflix numbers from market researcher Roy Morgan, which relies on extrapolations from large-scale surveys, are probably to most reliable and credible.
Roy Morgan estimates 408,000 Australian households have subscribed to Netflix. That was the number as at June – it would be higher now, given the growth rates. At 2.6 people per household (the Australian average, according to the ABS), that means Netflix reaches just over a million Australians.
Yesterday Nine’s boss David Gyngell said that Stan, the VOD service it half owns with Fairfax Media, has more than 300,000 subscribers, though less than 200,000 are paying the $10 a month fee. He does not say how many less than 200,000. The Roy Morgan data had Stan at just 91,000 households, just below Pesto (part of Foxtel, a joint venture between Telstra and News Limited) with 97,000.
Gyngell says Stan is growing much faster than expected, but was not making a profit. “Stan is running ahead of what we thought it was going to be, but then the category is,” he said. “Are we getting our share? I think we are probably keeping in touch. We are up against the hottest brand in the world right now in Netflix.
“We’re seeing if we can carve out a profitable alternative and a local alternative to what Netflix will be, and that’s yet to be seen. We don’t see Stan being the saviour of this company long term – we see it as an adjunct to content acquisition and original content deals.”
Gyngell said Stan will start to produce original content in 2016.