The launch of movies on Google Play means Australians have a wider range of online movie streaming services to choose from than ever. Sadly, that doesn't mean our biggest local movies can be easily accessed. The vast majority of our top-grossing local flicks still aren't available for online viewing to paying customers.
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The table below shows the 10 top-grossing Australian movies of all time in Australia (per this handy list), and whether they are currently available on the four biggest local movie streaming services that offer rentals to casual customers using computers: iTunes, Google Play, BigPond Movies and Quickflix WatchNow. (That criteria excludes Foxtel and FetchTV, which require subscriptions and other gear, and Sony and Microsoft's services, which don't work on Macs.)
I used the search function for each service to check availability — if you can't find a movie this way, it may as well not be listed. In terms of search, Quickflix easily had the best options.
As you can see, the pickings are a little slim. Google's newness definitely plays against it, but Quickflix is just as bad, and even iTunes is missing half the movies on the list. Some titles clearly aren't available to anyone (the two Crocodile Dundee movies), but others have patchy availability. We're a long way from streaming being a substitute for DVD or TV as a movie-viewing option.
Over time, this will probably improve. I did a similar survey of Australian music availability on iTunes at the beginning of 2011, and since then the situation has improved somewhat, with some of the major holdout acts (such as Cold Chisel and INXS) becoming available.
Nonetheless, it's a reminder of the fact that legal digital entertainment services often don't offer a full range of products, and Australian culture is often under-represented. While that often comes down to cutting deals with individual producers, it's a problem that needs solving if we want to cut back on piracy.
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