Brace yourself, Netflix is coming. Yes, I know I'm mixing stations, HBO's Game of Thrones being one of the few shows not available on Netflix. But it remains an entirely accurate warning. Netflix is coming. Brace yourselves.

The arrival of the internet streaming Goliath has been long speculated but only today confirmed. The small fry in our local streaming pond now find themselves with an incredibly tight deadline of March next year with which to entice you into paying for their "Netflix-style" subscription services.

It's not often you get to refer to players like Sky and Spark (the newly rebranded Telecom) as small fry. But when it comes to streaming media, they most definitely are. They have money, resources, deep market entrenchment and an incredibly strong desire to not be stamped into oblivion.

Unfortunately for them, that may not be enough. Netflix is Netflix. They are not. They are, in a word, screwed.


Or are they?

The world of rights management and licensing is complex and, in the modern connected age, largely ridiculous. But it's a thing. And for Sky's freshly announced service Neon, and Spark's recently launched Lightbox, it is quite literally their everything.

Catching wind of the hulking giant heading our way, both got extremely busy snaffling up New Zealand's online screening rights to myriad shows and movies that are otherwise available on the full, fat, US Netflix.

These defensive manoeuvres have been put into play to stifle Netflix's appeal, denying them access to hot shows and movies. The thing is, Netflix has such a behemoth catalogue these parries probably won't make much of a dent.

Right now we have no idea what media Netflix is bringing with them. Do global screening rights trump NZ screening rights? I have no idea. But I have a hunch we'll find out soon enough.

In order to avoid that whole can of lawyer-shaped worms, our third streaming minnow Quickflix recently doubled down on local content as a point of difference. I guess the hope there is that a lot of Kiwis will want to watch themselves on telly rather than them foreign shows...

Of course, if you don't want to subscribe to anyone, then TVNZ and TV3 have you partially covered with their limited online streaming services.

Both are said to be constantly improving but I haven't checked in on either lately. TVNZ On Demand was absolutely woeful the last time I tried, repeatedly dropping connection midway through Location, Location, Location but encountering no difficulty in constantly replaying the same fricken ad.

Infuriatingly, the ad was for TVNZ On Demand.

Of course there's been backdoor entry into the US Netflix for quite a while if you were ingenious or nerdy enough to bother with it. Whether this method remains open after the March launch, however, remains to be seen.

Even with all these legal options available, rogues, scoundrels and cheapskates still have the option to populate the underground streaming sites. Piracy may come free, but it doesn't come anywhere close to Netflix's 4K HD streams. Of course you'll need a blitzing internet connection to cope with that quality.

Crucially, we don't yet know how much a Netflix subscription is going to cost. In the States it's cheap enough to be considered a no-brainer; US$8.99 a month, which, in real money, equates to about $11.40.

At a straight conversion this undercuts everyone bar our TV networks' free, but lacking, services. Right now, Quickflix is cheapest at $12.99, the more appealing Lightbox slightly more at $15, while Neon is completely out to lunch at a whopping $20.

If Netflix rolls in at an even $10 it'd be close to game over. People would quickly stop buggering about with "Netflix-style" television subscription services and instead just subscribe to Netflix.

But no matter what happens, I got a feeling it's going to be worth watching.

Which service will you be using? Have your say below.