Netflix’s exclusive partnership with Singtel-Optus has ended after three months, setting the stage for a bidding war between rival telcos vying to offer the popular service to win new customers.
Both companies signed a deal that let Optus heavily feature Netflix in its marketing campaigns and hand out free subscriptions after the video-on-demand service’s Australian launch in March to help drive an increase in sales.
Sources said Netflix would now hold off signing a new deal for at least three months as part of the agreement.
But Telstra and Vodafone Hutchison Australia are thought to be in talks with Netflix for a similar partnership, which could start just before the lucrative Christmas sales period. Both telcos are keen to use Netflix’s huge popularity to win new customers in the increasingly competitive market.
It has quickly become Australia’s favourite subscription video-ondemand service, with research firm Telsyte claiming it may already have 2 million viewers in Australia.
Netflix is so popular it represents about 30 per cent of all internet traffic at several different telcos thanks to its high-definition movies and television shows.
Vodafone Australia has been a key driver of using bundled services to attract new customers. It uses partnerships with video service Stan, music streamer Spotify and news producer Fairfax Media to offer free subscriptions and demonstrate improvements in its network.
Telstra risks eating its own profits by partnering with Netflix because of its half-ownership of rival Pay TV operator Foxtel.
But the company has consistently pledged to be an aggregator of all services, is offering new customers free subscriptions to Stan or Presto and held talks about joint marketing with Netflix .
‘‘ Rather than restrict our customers ’ choices, we are open to hosting all SVOD services,’’ a Telstra spokesman said.