Why Netflix is finally giving Kiwis the service they deserve
ANALYSIS: Kiwi Netflix subscribers are finally starting to see the service's full potential.
Many were quick to complain about the offerings to New Zealanders when the global streaming provider first launched here in 2015, but now the television and movie options available are almost on a par with its home in the US.
A comparative survey by Finder.com placed New Zealand eighth out of 73 countries in terms of the number of options available to them. Conducted in early June, the survey found there were 1422 TV shows and 3146 movies available to Kiwis – 81 per cent of the total available to US subscribers.
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While there are many titles that don't overlap between the two services, it marks a significant increase on results in both 2015 by InternetNZ (which found that New Zealand had only 33 per cent of the US volume) and Finder.com in 2016. In the latter, New Zealanders' options were on a par with those in Norfolk Island and Luxembourg and still only boasted 35 per cent of the American total.
Interestingly, America is now no longer the service with the biggest library – that honour belongs to Japan.
The increase in volume makes a mockery of TVNZ's deputy director of content Andrew Shaw's dismissal of Netflix just over a year ago as "a fad".
"At the moment I suspect people treat Netflix like a pet, it's nice to stroke and everyone feels warm and fuzzy about it, but you know there aren't that many great shows on Netflix, frankly," Shaw told Stuff in July 2017 in comments that were widely condemned.
Those voting for America's most-prestigious television awards this year would also seem to disagree with his last statement. Netflix shows are up for a total of 112 awards, across creative categories already announced and those which will be handed out at Tuesday's main ceremony. Most, if not all, of those programmes nominated are available on the New Zealand service.
A Netflix spokesman said the change in volume was a result of more and more Netflix original series being released worldwide at the same time. He said they were always looking to programme their content library to the variety of tastes shared by the streaming service's more than 130 million members around the world.
When asked why there were still some shows and movies on the US service that weren't available to Kiwi subscribers, the spokesman said that came down to who held the "first-run rights" for particular shows.
For example, only the first season of the New Zealand-shot Ash vs Evil Dead was available on Netflix here because Sky TV have the licence to the show. Likewise, all five seasons of Breaking Bad were available here on Lightbox rather than Netflix as is the case in the US.
The Netflix representative also allayed Kiwi Star Trek fans' fears that due to the imminent arrival of the Discovery series' parent company's service CBS All Access in Australia, the second season might not air on Netflix here. In Australia and New Zealand, Star Trek Discovery Season 2 will be a Netflix Original, he confirmed.