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Witchdoctor asks why we pay what we do for Netflix and Amazon content

Why do New Zealanders pay more per show from Netflix and Amazon Prime than our overseas counterparts? PAT PILCHER investigates.

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At Witchdoctor we’ve frequently bemoaned the sad state of free to air TV  and Sky TV.

It turns out that even Netflix and Amazon Prime are taking the proverbial too with Kiwis paying more per show for Netflix content than the Yanks, Brits, Aussies and even Pakistanis and Nepalese according to a global study conducted by UK based market researcher Comparitech.

The news is equally bad for Amazon Prime subscribers who are also paying a premium compared to English-speaking Amazon Prime subscribers offshore.

Comparitech found Netflix offered New Zealanders a catalogue of 1422 television shows and 3126 movies. Their pricing worked out at US 0.17 cents (NZ 25c) per show while Australians, Brits and Yanks are paying US 0.14c per show and getting far more content. Interestingly, the study found that Canadians got the best deal with Netflix, while Danes were copping the worst deal.

Amazon Prime Video may have the rather fun Grand Tour show, but they still lag behind Netflix when it comes to TV, only offering 416 TV shows. That said, they perform far better when it comes to movies, with 4,321 movies available to Kiwis.

While New Zealand came out 16th out of 78 countries for what Comparitech call Netflix ‘value’ and sixth out of 28 countries with Amazon Prime Video, those lucky Brits and Yanks are getting the best deal from Amazon with a price of just over US 0.07c per title. While we may wring our hands and contemplate going back to free to airs’ sad reality shows and samey-samey current affair shows, we should spare a thought for the Singaporeans who are paying US 0.9c per title with Amazon Prime Video.

Unlike Netflix, other factors also apply to Americans, Aussies and Canadians using Amazon Prime Video as in these countries it is bundled with other incentives and perks including free delivery and Amazon music. That said, the study doesn’t account for the popularity of Netflix and Amazon shows.

The relative value of both services aside, the only reason most of these differences exist in the first place comes down to arcane copyright, royalty and often bizarre content licensing laws that are very much out of step with the realities of a digital world.

Getting a message from a city to a small town just a few hundred miles away used to take days, if not weeks. Now sending that same message to practically anywhere on earth (or in orbit) takes just seconds.

If Netflix, Amazon and others want piracy to stop, and they don’t want to criminalise ordinary people for using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), then they need to get these arcane laws reformed so that there can be a single global content market whose borders are based on language and little else. Until then, the highly variable availability of content and bizarre pricing differences will only act to continue piracy and VPN use.