Streaming giant’s Australian focus could boost industry

Australian-owned streaming platform Stan has announced a commitment to home-grown content, in a move that could pull its head off the chopping block, screen analysts say.

Owner Nine unveiled on Monday a commitment to Stan Originals production (30 over the next five years) – which is good news for Australia’s entertainment industry, TV commentator Rob McKnight said.

“I think it’s a really smart play by Stan, and really, it’s the only play,” McKnight, of TV Blackbox, told The New Daily.

There are dozens of streaming platforms operating in Australia, jostling for monthly subscriptions – and it’s not just limited to the big names of Netflix, Stan, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and AppleTV.

There is an increasing number of niche, smaller players entering the fray.

For months, industry analysts have been saying it’s only a matter of time before the crowded market gets too much and some providers start to suffocate.

Many picked Stan as that weak link – it was losing content deals left, right and centre as international heavyweights muscled in on Australian devices.

But now, Stan is using its unique edge to make a mark in the market.

“This is a strong point of difference,” McKnight continued.

“When you think about each family, they’ll have one, two maybe three streaming services – not all of however many are available – and content is king.

“You’re not going to get subscribers unless you’ve got the content.”

Victoria University screen media senior lecturer Marc C-Scott agrees, and said it was a move that Stan needed to make to stay alive.

“They need a point of difference and you’re based in Australia, so why wouldn’t you want to create content that is local?” Dr C-Scott told TND.

The world is our oyster

At a time when the global entertainment industry sits on a knife’s edge, this is an opportunity for us to do things differently and find a new way to survive, both experts told TND.

Dr C-Scott said Stan’s promise presented the opportunity for Aussie content to be taken to the world.

Unlike Netflix, Stan and its Nine ownership has the option to sell its creations globally.

In Monday’s announcement, Stan highlighted a handful of original productions it has in the works already: Bump, a 10-part drama starring Aussie icon Claudia Karvan, a comedy series from the Bondi Hipsters crew, and true-crime doco series about serial killer Eric Edgar Cooke.

“So they can sell (content) off to services – it could be other streaming platforms, it could be paid television services across the globe,” Dr C-Scott said.

McKnight said the possibilities were endless when it came to what Australians could find themselves creating, streaming and enjoying.

“What we might see if some real opportunities for local content – especially if Stan is willing to roll the dice,” he said.

He wants to see production thought of beyond drama – into live TV, cross-media, theatre. It just has to be the right fit.

“The big question is, will Australian audiences choose Australian content?” McKnight said.

“Unless it’s crackerjack drama, the audiences for drama are diminishing.

“Stan will have to find the right kind of content.”

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