Netflix Australia vs Netflix USA – An Inequality Issues Reflection

Netflix Australia vs Netflix USA – An Inequality Issues Reflection

Story and video produced by Tiarne Blackwell:

In 2007, Netflix first started streaming movies and television shows in the USA. A few years later, Netflix was introduced in several other countries, including Canada, Latin America, The Caribbean and a number of European countries. Why then, was it only launched in Australia this year? And why is Australia so far behind when it comes to content release dates? My digital storytelling project indicates the spatiality of media practices, as it explores Netflix inequality issues throughout different geographical locations, such as Australia and the USA.

It took me a long time to wrap my head around media practices and audience experiences being spatial in nature, but after speaking with my tutor, I finally understood how to implement this concept into my project. Our media experiences are broad, and when it comes to spatiality, the possibilities are endless. I chose to do my project on Netflix inequality issues in Australia, as this is something that I feel strongly about. I’m a regular Netflix user, and because of these issues, I have resorted to using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to access the United States’ version. I find it frustrating (albeit interesting) that we are so far behind other countries, and that nobody has succeeded in doing anything about it.

Putting this project together was a bit more difficult than I anticipated, and I did encounter a few technical issues along the way. However, these problems were ultimately worth it because I learned a lot about how to create a digital storytelling project, and how to explore the idea of media spatiality. To learn these things, I also had to learn a number of other important factors, such as project management, the importance of research and how to work collaboratively.

Image source: Flickr.com
Image source: Flickr.com

Project Management

Planning

Planning is one of the most vital aspects of any project, but it’s especially important for a project that requires a lot of time and effort. Fortunately, I read my tutor’s blog post about research projects before undertaking this task, so I knew that it was a good idea to plan in advance. Below are some planning steps that my tutor recommended, which I tried to follow:

  • Week 10: undertake the ethnographic component, complete background research and draft the presentation of your discovery or idea.
  • Week 11: Put it all together on your chosen platform.
  • Week 12: Finalise project in time for your informant to give feedback and have real input.
  • Week 13: Write reflection, including your informant’s ideas and input.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stick to this schedule because I changed my research topic several times. I was still confused about the project, and I was juggling a number of different assignments simultaneously, so I left my planning a bit later than I probably should have. I did however set aside a few weeks to conduct essential background research, search for interviewees and draft my presentation.

Choosing a platform

As soon as I started planning this project, I decided to use Final Cut Pro as my chosen platform. I’m a journalism student who has some experience using this software, and I believe that it’s an effective way to tell stories. I did have some issues with it, such as it freezing regularly, but I persevered to ensure that my results were interesting and unique. Before making a final decision regarding my chosen platform, I read this article, which has some good tips on creating a digital storytelling project, such as how it’s useful to use a microphone when recording voiceovers and conducting interviews.

Research

Before commencing my digital storytelling project, I believed that my own general knowledge would guide me through most of the process. While it did help that I was aware of some Netflix inequality issues in Australia, I still had to do a lot of research so that I could back up my statements. I also had to locate a large number of images with Creative Commons’ licenses, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds. Because Netflix was only introduced in Australia this year, this kind of content is somewhat limited and tedious to find.

Researching statistics, opinions and various forms of data was very time consuming. I found that I had to continue researching as I worked because I kept discovering more facts that required evidence, and I also had to source research that catered towards my interviewees’ opinions. According to the Unite for Sight website, “one problem that often plagues progress is the slow transition of research into practice.” While this website is out of my project’s context, and it is intended for something entirely different, I believe the statement is also relevant to my project.

Working collaboratively

For this project, I decided to collaborate with my two younger sisters by interviewing them on camera. This is defined as qualitative field research, as it is “a disciplined inquiry examining the personal meanings of individuals’ experiences and actions in the context of their social and cultural environment”. I positioned myself close to them to gain access to their personal experiences regarding the inequality of Netflix’s geographical regions. Working with people to gain their opinions can also be viewed as collaborative ethnographic research, as collaborating with them is a more personable research method than merely searching for statistics online.

My sister, Courtney, just returned from a four month trip to the USA, and while she was over there she was exposed to the United States’ version of Netflix. Before visiting the USA, she had been using the Australian Netflix since its release, so I knew that she would be able to effectively compare both versions.

My youngest sister, Erin, is a regular user of both versions of Netflix. She uses a VPN to access the United States’ version on the computer, but she doesn’t know how to use a VPN on the television. Therefore, she uses both versions consistently and has a lot of opinions regarding their differences.

With these thoughts in mind, I drafted questions about media space that I hoped would encourage my sisters to answer in ways that would allow me to create an interesting and informative project. After hearing their ideas, I centred my story around their opinions by searching for research that would complement their answers. For example, Courtney revealed that if something wasn’t available on Netflix, she would probably resort to downloading it illegally. Considering this, I conducted research, which revealed that Australia is one of the top pirating countries in the world. This led to the question: why isn’t Netflix Australia introducing more content? They have the ability to rectify Australia’s piracy issues, but they’re only making it worse by leaving us behind. As you can see, collaborating with people can be very effective. I might not have thought of these things if weren’t for my sisters’ answers.

I did find it challenging to collaborate with my interviewees because of our different schedules. Whenever I was free, both of them were busy and vice versa. They were also a bit nervous about being interviewed, so I had to encourage them to act casually, and not to compromise their personalities for the sake of the camera.

Courtney

Erin

I feel that I presented my research in a nature that could be pitched to media industries or stakeholders. However, to convince them that Netflix Australia should be more reflective of the USA version, the argument could have been stronger. This might have been achieved by using more influential interview talent who had experience working in media industries, or had other expertise. My story could then have been used to effectively convince industries of the inequity in these media spaces.

Overall, I thought a lot about media, audience and place when I was creating my digital storytelling project. I probably put more emphasis on place, as my story was about Netflix inequality in different regions. However, media and audience also factor into this idea. By dealing with project management, use of research and working collaboratively, I think that I learned and achieved everything that I should have. I now have a more concrete understanding of media, audience and place, as well as spatiality in media practices.

Image source: Flickr.com

References (for reflection)

Educause, ‘7 things you should know…about digital storytelling’, Educause website, viewed 27 October 2015,
https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf

Holland, T 2015, ‘BCM240: Wks 10-13 – research project’, Blergh.org, viewed 25 October 2015,
http://www.blergh.org/2015/10/bcm240-wks-10-13-research-project/

Hopwell, L 2014, ‘Australia worst in the world for piracy, according to our attorney-general’, Gizmodo website, viewed 1 November 2015,
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/06/australia-is-the-worst-in-the-world-for-piracy-according-to-attorney-general

Lasseter, LE 2005, ‘Defining a Collaborative Ethnography’, The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 15-24, viewed 2 November 2015,
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/468909.html

Netflix Media Centre, ‘A brief history of the company that revolutionized watching of movies and TV shows’, Netflix website, viewed 1 November 2015,
https://pr.netflix.com/WebClient/loginPageSalesNetWorksAction.do?contentGroupId=10571

Oxford Journal, n.d., ‘Qualitative Field Research, Oxford Journal, vol. 14, pp.196-211, viewed 2 November 2015,
http://www.oxfordjournals.org/our_journals/tropej/online/ce_ch14.pdf 

Unite For Sight, ‘Module 6: the importance of research’, Unite for Sight website, viewed 2 November 2015,
http://www.uniteforsight.org/research-methodology/module6

References (for digital storytelling project)

Case, J 2010, ‘Piracy rate by country’, Android Police website, viewed 1 November 2015,
http://www.androidpolice.com/2010/08/26/android-piracy-by-country/

Dainger85 2007, “Netflix commercial” video, February 3 via YouTube, Creative Commons license.

Finder 2015, ‘Internet TV finder: streaming video on demand (SVOD) comparison, Finder.com.au website, viewed 1 November 2015,
http://www.finder.com.au/internet-tv

Finder 2015, ‘Netflix Australia vs Netflix US TV shows library comparison’, Finder.com.au website, viewed 30 October 2015,
http://www.finder.com.au/netflix-australia-vs-netflix-us-tv-shows

Hopwell, L 2014, ‘Australia worst in the world for piracy, according to our attorney-general’, Gizmodo website, viewed 1 November 2015,
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/06/australia-is-the-worst-in-the-world-for-piracy-according-to-attorney-general/

Jonathan Mann 2013, “Change is good (redux) (song a day #1772)” video, November 7 via YouTube, Creative Commons license.

Mitch Hughes 2015, “It is illegal to use a VPN to stream overseas services like Netflix?” video, April 3 via YouTube, Creative Commons license.

Mobicrunch 2014, ‘Netflix to release in New Zealand and Australia in March 2015’, Mobicrunch website, viewed 30 October 2015,
http://www.mobicrunch.com/2014/11/19/netflix-to-release-in-new-zealand-and-australia-in-march-2015/

Netflix Australia website, viewed 29 October 2015,
https://www.netflix.com/au/

Netflix Media Centre, ‘A brief history of the company that revolutionized watching of movies and TV shows’, Netflix website, viewed 1 November 2015,
https://pr.netflix.com/WebClient/loginPageSalesNetWorksAction.do?contentGroupId=10571

Netflix USA website, viewed 29 October 2015,
https://www.netflix.com/

Network World TV 2015, ‘Netflix is shortchanging Australians get a DNS’, Network World TV website, viewed 31 October 2015,
https://www.unlockworldtv.com/netflix-is-shortchanging-australians-get-a-dns/

Ninemsn 2015, “Waiting for Netflix to come to Australia? Well, you’ll still miss out on its top shows”, Facebook Post, 20 January, viewed 31 October 2015,
https://www.facebook.com/ninemsn/posts/832834296755584

Quora, ‘How much does Netflix cost a month?’, Quora website, viewed 1 November 2015,
https://www.quora.com/How-much-does-Netflix-cost-a-month

Roy Morgan Research 2015, ‘Netflix reaches 2.2 million Australians’, Roy Morgan Research website, viewed 30 October 2015,
http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/6447-netflix-passes-two-million-australians-in-august-2015-201509080554

The Informer 2014, “Netflix confirmed for Australia” video, November 21 via YouTube, Creative Commons license.

Wikipedia (reuse) “Canadian flag” photograph, n.d. via Wikipedia (reuse), Creative Commons Attribution license.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Canada.svg

Wikipedia (reuse) “Caribbean flag” photograph, n.d. via Wikipedia (reuse), Creative Commons Attribution license.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_the_Caribbean(Proposal).PNG

Wikipedia (reuse) “European flag” photograph, n.d. via Wikipedia (reuse), Creative Commons Attribution license.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Europe

Wikipedia (reuse) “Latin American flag” photograph, n.d. via Wikipedia (reuse), Creative Commons Attribution license.
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Latin_America_Flag_Proposal.png

Wildgoose, D 2010, ‘Nintendo Australia continues piracy crackdown’, viewed 1 November 2015,
http://www.kotaku.com.au/2010/03/nintendo-australia-continues-piracy-crackdown/

XE Currency Converter website, viewed 1 November 2015,
http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/

Advertisements

One thought on “Netflix Australia vs Netflix USA – An Inequality Issues Reflection

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s