Following the expansion of Netflix to more than 130 countries across the around the world, CEO of global video streaming giant Netflix Reed Hastings (2016) proclaimed, “You are witnessing the birth of a global TV network.”
The company rolled out a vast expansion of the service outside the 60 countries where the service was already available.
In his keynote speech, Hastings said:
“With this launch, consumers around the world — from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo — will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously — no more waiting. With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device.”
Netflix is an original innovator behind the possibility of screen industries using the Internet as a distribution platform – which is now a widely adopted model in a globalised world. These new models of distribution and consumption have highlighted the complexity of navigating a balanced relationship “between the infrastructures and services facilitating online dissemination of film and television, and the consumption practices of geographically and temporally dispersed connected viewing audiences” (Evans, 2016).
Despite having such services available, Australians are not yet disenfranchised with broadcast television and view it as still relevant and even necessary. A report (2011) filed by the ACMA made the following findings:
- Participants recognised the importance of Australian content on broadcast television, for continuity of the local production industry as well as to foster a sense of Australian cultural identity.
- Having a strong production industry was seen as a desirable stepping stone for Australian actors and other talent, and important for Australia’s place in a global market.
- Participants believed that Australian shows might struggle if online channels increased access to overseas professional content.
- They felt that Australian television, as a whole, struggled to compete with high-quality production dramas and soaps from overseas.
The media consumers of Australia reveal that they still rely heavily upon broadcast television for local content such as news, current affairs and expect to see an array of locally produced entertainment also. Participants’ personal preference for Australian content was clear when there was direct relevance or a local need or interest; for example, news and information and Australian versions of reality television shows.
Given the current patterns of uptake, it’s likely that Netflix will eventually hold a vast market share of on-demand TV consumption. TV consumption behaviours are shifting away from the broadcast framework – a framework which is critical in the discourse of localised content and production. Evans explains; “such connected viewing is now emerging as an addition to the channels of transnational media flows”.
In the wake of the events of September 11 2001, at the 31st UNESCO General Conference “Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity” was created, seen as a necessary reaffirmation that “aims to preserve cultural diversity as a living, and thus renewable treasure”. Article eight of the declaration states:
“In the face of present-day economic and technological change, opening up vast prospects for creation and innovation, particular attention must be paid to the diversity of the supply of creative work, to due recognition of the rights of authors and artists and to the specificity of cultural goods and services which, as vectors of identity, values and meaning, must not be treated as mere commodities or consumer goods.”