Chromecast beams into Australian media streaming race

Foxtel Presto, Quickflix coming to HDMI dongle

The arrival in Australia of Google Chromecast could shake the media landscape, according to an IBRS analyst.

Google said it will begin selling its low-priced media streaming HDMI dongle Chromecast in Australia today for $49. After converting to US dollars, the price is about $10 more than the device sells for in the United States.

Chromecast plugs into the back of TVs via HDMI and is powered by the television’s USB jack (or AC adaptor if that’s not available). Once plugged in, users can stream video and music directly from apps on their smartphone, tablet or PC to the TV screen.

Foxtel has announced its subscription streaming service Presto as one of the first Australian apps for Chromecast. Presto, available for Chromecast and Android devices in July, costs $19.99 monthly ($4.99 for the first month) for unlimited plays of a range of one-year-old and older movies.

Quickflix is also coming soon to Chromecast, according to an image on the streaming service's website. Quickflix said it's in the final stages of development and testing of the app.

Chromecast also supports a range of Google apps including YouTube, Google Play Movies and Google Play Music, as well as Pandora, Crackle and some other third-party apps.

In the US, one of the most popular Chromecast apps is, of course, Netflix. But despite some speculation about Netflix coming to Australia, the company has not announced any plans to come to ANZ.

“It seems more a spoiler here for now, but there'd be some concerns in TV land for the immediate future,” IBRS analyst Guy Cranswick told Techworld Australia.

However, he said the $49 price tag is not very competitive and Foxtel has “ring fenced its content offering”.

If Chromecast does chisel market share from local media players, Cranswick predicted the competition might turn to regulators for help.

Google uses transfer pricing in Australia to reduce its tax burden but directly profits from using media content in this country, Cranswick explained.

“This means that local media players pay full corporate tax and each employee pays personal income tax but Google doesn't or hasn't paid its relative share of income earned in Australia and yet is able to compete with services. If it poaches audience from those player that are fully taxed that means pressure to regulate Google's affairs.”

Chromecast is now available from the Google Play store and retailers JB HiFi and Dick Smith.

Adam Bender covers startup and business tech issues for Techworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Techworld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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