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Welcome the clash of the online entertainment giants: Netflix vs itself! Before the release of Netflix Australia on 24 March 2015, it was estimated that up to 200,000 Australians were already signed up for Netflix US and were accessing its content through VPN providers.
Now that we have our own Netflix over here, things are a whole lot simpler. You can sign up for Netflix Australia and enjoy the local version of the streaming giant, which offers all of the perks the US platform does.
The main difference comes down to content – US Netflix has a more generous library, so you still might be tempted to invest in a VPN subscription and access shows that aren't available Down Under. Here's a quick comparison of the two services, pros and cons included, so you can make an informed decision about which Netflix will spark more joy.
Ultimately, Netflix's biggest draw is the vast library of movies and TV shows available to its users. Admittedly, when the Australian version was released, it drew some fair criticism for having a much smaller library than its US counterpart. However, now it's had a few years to hit its stride, there are thousands of high-quality titles to choose from, with dozens more arriving every single week.
The Australian Netflix library is currently very generous, with tons of exciting content to tickle your fancy. Aussies get all Netflix original productions, including movies, TV series, reality TV, kids' programming, comedy specials and documentaries. You also get access to Australian titles, which aren't all available on Netflix US. Besides, Netflix is the exclusive international distributor for US series like Riverdale and Dynasty. While Aussies can stream new episodes every week, US subscribers have to wait until an entire season has aired for it to drop on the streaming platform.
The Australian version of the service only falls short when it comes to licensed content. Let's take Friends, the iconic series Netflix paid big money to keep streaming for US subscribers. Friends isn't available on Netflix Australia and instead it's streaming on Stan. Other popular shows that are on Netflix US but are absent from the Australian library include Grey's Anatomy, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Breaking Bad, Supernatural, New Girl and The Walking Dead.
Some of these shows are streaming Down Under, but on competing platforms like Stan, Prime Video or Foxtel Now. That's how licensing works. The same goes for movies. Netflix US, for instance, hosts Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2, two hugely beloved flicks that are instead streaming on Foxtel Now and Stan in Australia (at least until Disney+ becomes a thing).
That being said, Netflix is working on establishing a truly global library of content, with a focus on original productions, something that might come to fruition in a few years. Until then, you can choose to be content with the Australian library or use a VPN to access the US library for the shows that aren't available over here.
How does Netflix stack up against its competitors in the Australian streaming space? To find out, just take a look at our comprehensive guide detailing the costs, features and content of every option currently available.
Want all the TV shows and movies? You can get a free trial with each of the streaming Internet TV providers below:
In the US, a basic Netflix subscription costs US$8.99 (comes to about $12.74). A standard plan is priced at US$12.99 ($18.41) and a premium one at US$15.99 ($22.66). In comparison, a subscription to Australian Netflix will cost you $9.99, $13.99 and $19.99, respectively. So, it's cheaper. The good news is you don't have to sign up to US Netflix directly, you can create an Australian account and then access the US library with a VPN service. This is where we should mention that this is technically against Netflix's terms and conditions, so proceed with caution.
Still here? OK. To access the US Netflix library you also have to pay a monthly fee for said VPN service. Netflix has cracked down heavily on VPNs in recent years, so there aren't a lot left that enable you to stream Netflix US content. Plus, those that do can get pricey. In other words, you can end up paying more than double the monthly Netflix price to be able to actually watch content from the US.
It may be more affordable to subscribe to two local streaming services instead, such as Netflix and Stan. These two combined offer more content than you can possibly watch during a lifetime, even if you quit your job and decide to become a professional hermit. Also, consider the technical aspects.
While using a VPN improves your online security, it can affect your Internet speed. You may encounter buffering issues when streaming US Netflix with a VPN as it ultimately depends on the quality of your VPN provider. You may not notice a difference when sending emails or browsing Google, but streaming videos uses considerably more data, so your connection may start to lag. This makes for a poor viewing experience and is especially frustrating when it occurs right in the middle of a critical scene and jolts you back into harsh reality. Plus, if your original ISP connection speed is slow, it's guaranteed you'll experience the same thing with a VPN.
On the other hand, if you have an Internet connection with decent speed, you'll be able to stream content on the local version of Netflix without issues. The streaming platform recommends a minimum speed of 1.5 Mbps or 5.0 Mbps for HD quality. If you're set on using the Netflix US library, you might want to invest in a faster broadband plan and spend a little extra on a top VPN provider to avoid buffering.
Finally, when it comes to features, both US Netflix and the Australian version are evenly matched. The three subscription plans are identical (except for cost), you can stream Netflix on almost any device and you can download content on smartphones or tablets to watch offline. The only thing worth mentioning here is if you're keen to access US Netflix via multiple devices, you'll need the VPN app installed on those as well (for instance you'll need it on both your laptop and smartphone/tablet).
Netflix is currently testing a mobile-only plan in selected countries, but it's mostly geared towards India, so we don't have any information on whether this will become permanent or in which countries it will be available. This may be worth looking into if it becomes a standard offer in the US and you stream mostly on mobile. Other than that though, the perks are all the same.
Take your pick from the following Netflix-compatible devices.
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The Australian Netflix library grew significantly in recent years, mostly due to Netflix's massive investment in original content. Original productions are available on Netflix worldwide and include massive hits like Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Queer Eye and Black Mirror. These will never expire and leave the platform, which is always a plus. This makes Netflix extremely appealing and for casual entertainment consumers, the Australian library will likely prove more than enough to satisfy occasional binge cravings.
On the other hand, if you're more interested in Netflix's licensed productions, accessing the US library can be worth the hassle. It's considerably larger than the Aussie one, so you get plenty of bonus content. It all comes down to your personal preferences. Netflix no longer has a one-month free trial, so you'll instead have to fork out your cash to test it out.
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