Will local content provide an edge for Australian SVOD services in battle with Netflix?

Looking to gain a step on Netflix, which says it will launch in Australia and New Zealand by the end of Q1, Stan – an SVOD service that’s the brainchild of Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media – is planning to rollout Jan. 26, according to published reports.

Already in the market are Presto and Foxtel Movies.

Although Netflix hasn’t officially launched, it’s estimated that the service already has some 200,000-plus subscribers in the region who use VPNs to access the U.S. version.

Pundits say the virtual head start Netflix has, along with its soon-to-be hoard of original content – it says it will produce at least 20 new titles in 2015 – already has given it a lead over local services.

The big question? How many SVOD services can Australia’s market carry?

Stan CEO Mike Sneesby told journalists he believes the market is strong enough to support three players.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, during this week’s Q4 earnings report presentation, said the company planned to have the service in 200 nations by the end of 2016. That scale, he said, would give Netflix the ability to offer content owners global distribution of their product. And, the scale of its distribution also lowers the cost of original content for Netflix.

Those are two powerful – and difficult – advantages for any local SVOD service to overcome.

But, what Netflix doesn’t currently have is content specific to the Australian audience, an advantage that local SVOD services will have to hope carry enough edge to keep them in the race.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn