Australian telcos vie for Netflix tie-up

Australia's top mobile operators are set to begin a bidding war over securing a deal with US streaming video giant Netflix Inc, as the company's partnership with Australia's No. 2 operator Singtel-Optus has come to an end.

California-based Netflix launched its Australian service in March, with only Optus offering the mobile and broadband service to its customers due to the exclusivity of the deal.

The service, which turned out to be a big success, is eyed as a key element of content offering by the country's leading mobile service provider Telstra and no.3 operator Vodafone.

Netflix, founded in 1997, is an American provider of on-demand internet streaming media available to viewers in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand and part of Western Europe, and also flat-rate DVD-by-mail in the US.

By the first quarter of 2015, Netflix had over 60 million global subscribers in over 40 countries, nearly double compared to two year ago.

Netflix' main Australian rivals include Presto, a joint venture between Foxtel and Seven West Media and Stan, a Nine Entertainment-Fairfax Media venture, and also Quickflix.

Optus has not commented on the possibility of renewing its Netflix deal. It has also not disclosed how many new customers the company gained on account of its just finished tie-up.

Optus said the company is proud to have helped introduce Netflix to Australians through its exclusive three-month mobile and broadband subscription offer.

''We will continue to explore opportunities to partner with the world's best entertainment brands so that more Australians can enjoy video on demand both at home and on the go. Optus broadband customers can continue to enjoy Netflix content un-metered,'' a spokesperson said.

Both Telstra and Vodafone have indicated their interest to engage in a partnership with the US video streamer although there have been no official confirmations of any talks yet.

Telstra, which owns a 50-per cent stake in Foxtel, said it is open to tie-ups with other streaming media service providers as well.

''Our clear goal in this space is for Telstra to lead the industry in giving customers a great content experience,'' a spokesman said. ''We want to do this by not only aggregating great content, but also providing the broadest content experience of any other Australian ISP.''

Vodafone's UK and New Zealand subsidiaries already have exclusive tie-ups with Netflix and the company is also a strong contender for a partnership in Australia.

''We are committed to bringing our customers the best in premium entertainment,'' a Vodafone spokesperson said.

According to Australian technology research firm Telsyte, there are two million streaming video on demand services across various providers as of June 2015.

Netflix declined to comment of the market speculation.

The company plans to launch its service in Japan later this year and said it is also in talks with Chinese firm Wasu Media Holding and other partners to make a foray into the country's lucrative online video market.