lifestyle

20 really dumb questions about NETFLIX. Answered.

I scream, you scream, we all scream for the Netflix stream.

Netflix launched in Australia today. TODAY.  The future is here. All those pop-culture references, all those memes about staying in and netflixing?  They are now US. Because our fair country has joined the 53 million members that drink up this on-demand TV like the thirsty bunch of marathon TV viewers we are.

But before you cancel all your weekend plans, call in sick to work, pull your tracksuit pants on and order chinese, here’s the dummies guide to what it is and what all the hype is about. And the big question: should we all get it?

So let’s play 20 questions.

1.  What is it?

It’s TV and movies that you watch through your internet. It’s kind of like iview, except with incredible shows like Orange is the New Black instead of Oranges: A Historical Journey of the Citrus Industry.  (FYI We love you ABC, and oranges are important). The Aussie version has content from Warner Bros., BBC, FOX, NBC Universal, Village Roadshow Entertainment, Beyond Distribution, Disney and more.

2. Why is there so much hype?

Cos’ it’s cheap and you can watch TV or movies any time you want to, legally, without pirating anything or scabbing USB dongles from the black market of pirated TV shows. There are no ads. And channel surfing to ‘find something good’ is OVER.

3. Is it a box? Is it a plug? Will a cable guy come over and do something in my house?

Nope. It’s kind of like an an app that you subscribe to. You just need the internet.

4. Do I play it on my TV or on my computer?

Both. Or either. It plays on any internet-connected device, including smart TV’s, tablets, smartphones, computers and a range of Internet-capable game consoles like Playstation 3 and 4, X box, and Nintendo Wii U. Also set-top boxes. It’s also compatible with Apple TV and Google Chromecast. And you can start watching on one device, and then pause and pick it up where you left off on another.

BUT HOW DO I GET IT IN MT TV????

That question is answered in more detail in this week’s podcast. Episode 10, around the 2 minute mark. Listen in itunes here, or in soundcloud here.

5. How much is this wizardry?

If you are watching it on one screen it’a $8.99 a month. That’s standard definition.

If you want two-streams of high-definition content, so you can watch something and your partner/housemate/significant or non-significant other can watch something else, it’s $11.99 a month.

Or, the four-stream ultra high-definition “family” plan where every member can watch something different and you never talk again is $14.99.

This price has undercut its rivals, with Fairfax/Channel Nine joint venture Stan charging $9.99 per month and Foxtel’s Presto service charging $14.99 a month for the film and TV package.

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6. Am I locked into a contract?

Nope. Unlike that gym membership you never use, you can cancel anytime. (You will probably use it way more than your gym membership BTW). Also they have a one-month free trial.

7. What about if I stream a shit ton of things? Will that cost more?

It’s unlimited streaming. But well worth checking with your internet provider about your data limits. They’ve struck a deal with iiNet where those customers will be able to stream it without it counting towards their data limits. But for everyone else….check.

8. Do I need really good internet?

You’ll need broadband.  And if you want to go down the family plan, you’ll need a shit ton of bandwith.  But the program uses an adaptive streaming system that detects your internet speed and the device you’re using, then delivers the best quality of video possible without clogging your pipes.

9. Are there ads? 

No.

10. What can I get on it?

Movies like Zoolander, Frozen, Happy Feet.  Award winning TV shows like House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Orange is the New Black. It has Suits, Downton Abbey, Upper Middle Bogan, Absolutely Fabulous. Tons more. There’s a heap of kids shows like Angelina Ballerina and Bob the Builder, there’s documentaries, comedy, and a number of new shows launching this year, including the Marvel superhero show Daredevil, and the Jane Fonda/Lily Tomlin comedy Grace and Frankie. If you want to go down the rabbit hole, Sydney software developer Kenneth Tsang analysed the titles available and put this spreadsheet online, but it’s not officially Netflix sanctioned, and is likely to change.

11. What DOESN’T it have?

Family Feud or Today Tonight.

‘It’s missing a few cult geek shows, and doesn’t have Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock or Dexter yet.

But it was always going to start smaller. The US service is 7 years old and their library is massive now. Netflix say that’s what they’re aiming for in Australia.  They are going to grow their program library every couple of weeks – and sometimes every day- as they have more content coming in.

12. What will it mean for Free- To -Air TV?

Some have drawn a technology parallel to the way mobile phones have usurped the landline telephone. The landline was a pretty essential household item but you needed to be at home, fixed to the wall to use it.  Sure, there’s still a lot of people with landlines but increasingly, a lot of people use a mobile phone for its flexibility. Same with TV now. You don’t need to be at home at a certain time to catch a show, you watch it when you can. Free-to-air TV channel’s know this is the way which we are all consuming content which is why increasingly they are rolling out internet viewing platforms like Channel 9’s Jump In or Channel Ten’s tenplay.

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13. OK so if we all get on Netflix to watch these US shows, what about our great local content? Will that suffer? 

Netflix say their top obligation is “to please Australian consumers and give them what they want.” So if we are all baying for Offspring or House Husbands, there is a chance we may get it.  Netflix have a track record of partnering with local productions to make shows, then splitting the rights where the local production takes the domestic market, and Netflix takes international rights.  For example, there is a lot of content produced by the BBC that Netflix then republish internationally on their servers. Netflix also argue that for local production companies, the more players in the market wanting the content, the more lucrative it can be for them.  So it may suffer, it may not… it remains to be seen.

14. Will this mean the end of Video Ezy?

Oh. Maybe. That makes me feel sad. I always loved the Killer Pythons on the counter.

16. Can I record things? Do I need to record things?

No, you can’t and you don’t need to because you just watch it when you want. It’s like a whole bookshelf of TV shows and you just pluck what you want off the shelf when you want it.

17. Ok.  So, if I get it, will I ever shower on weekends again?

Saturday mornings you will.  Sunday mornings look unlikely. Just roll straight onto the couch and stew in your funk.  Besides, the characters on Orange Is The New Black don’t care what you look like.

18. Will I ever have sex again?

Are you serious? Of course you will. You can always position your partner underneath you and sit on top, facing the screen.  Or if you go from behind you can both watch House of Cards and not miss a moment.  It may get disconcerting when Frank Underwood addresses the screen directly. Just remind yourself it’s a TV show.

19. Should I get it?

You have the power to make up your own mind.

20. Are you getting it?

Yeah.  I am. It’s the cost of two coffees a month. And I never shower on Sundays anyway so now I have an excuse.

Sign up at Netflix.

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