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Netflix: An entertainment gamechanger

Netflix: An entertainment gamechanger


A team of researchers from RMIT and Queensland University of Technology’s Digital Media Research Centre are collaborating on an ARC Discovery Project exploring the impact of global subscription video-on-demand platforms on national television markets –providing a research basis for media regulators to set a new media policy environment.

Internet-distributed service Netflix is often portrayed as an entertainment behemoth crushing all competition and diminishing local content, but the research team has found that’s a simplistic view. Unlike old industry heavyweights in Hollywood, Netflix fosters local content for a global audience, and has produced content for more than 167 million subscribers worldwide.

‘Few recognize the extent to which Netflix has metamorphosed into a global television service. Unlike services that distribute only US-produced content, Netflix has funded the development of a growing library of series produced in more than 27 countries, across six continents, including Australia,’ says researcher Professor Amanda Lotz.

The research team analysed the libraries Netflix makes available in different countries and found differences that distinguish it from services such as Disney+ and others launching from Hollywood studios. As Netflix’s non-US subscribers have grown, so too has commissioning of movies and series from outside the US.

The researchers explored how Netflix operates as a supplement rather than a replacement for national providers, especially public service broadcasters central to cultural storytelling. The team has also been tracking national policy approaches to streaming services and their implications. ‘It is difficult to appreciate whether some of Netflix’s peculiarity results from its global reach, business model, or distribution technology, but these are crucial questions to ask. And do these characteristics lead to the availability of stories, characters and places not readily available? If so, this is a notable benefit to audiences,’ says Professor Lotz.

‘We should also ask how these characteristics affect opportunities available for writers, producers, and actors who might be rethinking the kind of stories that must be told to sell internationally.’


‘Internet-distributed video services such as Netflix, have completely transformed the entertainment landscape and the competitive field in which free-to-air television operates, as well as turned the definition of ‘pay tv’ on its head,’ says Professor Lotz.

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