Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Australia’s only combined online DVD rental and subscription streaming service, Quickflix is striving to emulate Netflix while avoiding the U.S. company’s missteps last year in pricing and strategy. The publicly-traded Quickflix, which launched its streaming service in Australia in November 2011 and in New Zealand this March, has a pretty wide berth in which to fulfill its goal, but is limited in what it can pay for content. Still, Oz’s SVOD market is far less competitive than the U.S., with pay TV penetration at 30% and no indications yet that Netflix, Hulu or Amazon’s Lovefilm will enter the market. Unlike Netflix, Quickflix has been prudent with pricing, charging $A24.99 per month ($US26.24) for four DVDS plus unlimited streaming and $A29.99 ($US31.49) for unlimited DVDs and streaming. Through June 30 Quickflix reported it had just over 111,000 customers, of whom 28% are SVOD subscribers. Revenue for the quarter to June edged up by 3% to $5.1M.
The stock market wasn’t impressed as shares fell from 8 cents to below 5 cents amid concerns over its high churn rate and the prospect the company may be forced to issue new shares as it had just $5M in cash. In February, HBO bought a 15.7% stake in Quickflix for $10M and sealed an arms’ length programming deal. Quickflix also has SVOD content contracts with Sony, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, MGM, the BBC and ITV. Chief executive Chris Taylor tells Deadline he hopes to sign Fox and Disney in the next 12 months. He’d also like to do a deal with Oz’s largest independent distributor Roadshow, but acknowledges he has to work within a “finite program budget.” Last year, Quickflix acquired Big Pond Movies’ customer base and library of DVD and Blu-ray discs from giant telco Telstra. Its streaming service will soon be available to approximately 1M Xbox users and to Samsung Galaxy tablets. On August 10 the streaming service ramped up its children’s programming menu, adding more than 300 hours licensed from the ABC, the BBC, Turner and Cookie Jar.