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Proof Aussies get a raw deal on digital entertainment

That’s probably a US-based catalogue.
That’s probably a US-based catalogue. Supplied

IT PROBABLY doesn't come as a surprise to you but new research shows just how much of a raw deal Aussies are getting when it comes to the cost and access of digital entertainment.

Compared to our US counterparts, Australians frequently have less access to movies and TV shows and when it comes to games and music we pay around 25 per cent more for content.

The United States is the entertainment Mecca of the world, and distribution deals and geoblocks can often mean Aussies don't have the same access.

Research conducted by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) comparing the two markets found only 38 per cent of movies and 39 per cent of TV titles available in the US via streaming services are available to Aussie consumers.

The research was funded by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network and presented at ACCAN's 2017 National Conference this week.

The research project assessed the relative availability of digital media content for Australian consumers, focusing on download and streaming services.

The most popular content was sampled across services like Google Play, iTunes, Netflix, Foxtel, Stan and Spotify.

The team looked at pricing and availability of 3,880 films, 1,298 television series, 6,118 albums and 346 console games during one month of 2017.

For all four media types considered in the study Australians were disadvantaged compared to American consumers in some way.

Movies and TV

In film and TV, Australians pay the same as American consumers but have limited access when it comes to downloading titles. In the sample, only about 65 per cent of movie titles and 75 per cent of TV titles available in the US could be accessed by Australian consumers.

When it comes to streaming the disparity was worse. Nearly two thirds of films available to stream in the US are not available to stream in Australia, and more than half of the television seasons available to stream in the US are not available in Australia.

It's figures like these that many believe fuel Australia's headline-prompting high piracy rates and the common use of VPNs to get around geoblocking. In fact, last year the government's Productivity Commision effectively condoned Australians use of VPNs to circumvent geoblocking.

Games and music

For games and music, Australians have much the same access to titles, but pay more for them. We pay about 20 per cent more for games and 24 per cent more for music titles.

The only case where Australian consumers are not at a disadvantage is music streaming, where consumers have access to approximately the same number of titles for slightly cheaper subscription fees.

There are still films that Australia has access to which the US does not.
There are still films that Australia has access to which the US does not. Supplied

It's not just contained to online content as there can sometimes be a lag time between cinematic release dates in the US and Down Under.

It’s figures like this that fuel Australian’s use of VPN’s to get around geoblocking.
It’s figures like this that fuel Australian’s use of VPN’s to get around geoblocking. Supplied

In 2014, Australian audiences got a cinematic release of The Lego Movie 54 days after it had screened in the US and as a result the movie was heavily pirated in Australia. Graham Burke, chief executive Village Roadshow which owned the local distribution rights estimated the piracy cost between $3.5 million and $5 million in sales.

In an effort to coincide the release with school holidays, more or less the same thing happened with the Lego Batman Movie earlier this year.

This data collected by the QUT researchers is being used in an ongoing comparison between the Australian and US media markets.

According to study's authors, the report is the first snapshot of a longer term project to monitor changes in digital media markets over time.

Topics:  digital entertainment editors picks netflix

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