news DVD rental service Quickflix yesterday announced its new instant movie streaming service had gone live, with most most householders in Australia with entry level broadband speeds now being able to stream unlimited movies from many of Hollywood’s leading studios at any time, for a monthly fee.
WatchNow, Quickflix’s new movie streaming service for Mac and PC users has been assimilated into its website with subscribers able to select instant streaming or DVD by mail subscriptions, or both. The streaming package goes for $14.99 a month, with DVD rental costing extra — from $5.99 to $32.99, depending on how many DVDs you want to rent at a time, and whether you want access to Blu-ray discs or not. Quickflix is offering subscribers a free trial to the streaming service until December.
Chris Taylor, Quickflix chief executive officer, said the rollout of the streaming service to PC and Mac owners would make movie watching very affordable for most Australians. Quickflix is enlarging its range of streaming titles and has just tripled its library of DVD and Blu-ray discs, increasing its online DVD rental business. So far, there only appear to be a few hundred movies available to stream — and they’re mainly older films rather than new releases.
Quickflix has recently launched streaming to Sony’s range of connected Bravia TVs, Blu-ray players, home theatre systems and VAIO computer range and announced its upcoming availability on Sony’s PlayStation 3 later in 2011. In July the company had stated that it had received over $4.6 million in funding through private investors to help add the functionality needed to stream movies over the internet. Further popular devices will be added to Quickflix’s growing network.
Taylor spoke about the early promising indications of movie streaming usage on Sony’s Bravia line of TVs, introduced over a fortnight ago. “This next phase of our digital rollout will provide an addressable market of millions of potential viewers,” said Taylor. This could help fill a long-standing demand from Australian customers for legal streaming of online film and TV viewing choices, following US-based Netflix’s apparent lack of interest in launching its services in Australia.
Stephen Langsford, Quickflix founder and executive chairman, described the rollout to PC and Mac users as a significant milestone for the company, in line with its strategy of giving subscribers the choice of any movie anytime, at a reasonable price. “We are very encouraged with the momentum in the business and we are uniquely positioned in the market as more consumers turn to online for their entertainment,” Langsford said.
I fired up QuickFlix’s online streaming service yesterday for a quick trial, and what I saw was fairly predictable.
With only a very limited catalogue, and only of fairly mainstream and out of date films, after a month or so, you’ll struggle to find something worth watching on the service, unless Quickflix rapidly starts expanding its library. Quickflix’s list of titles so far appears very similar to the titles available through the FetchTV platform being used by telcos like Optus, iiNet and Internode locally: The movie range is OK, but there aren’t a stack of new releases, and most of the movies are ones you probably wouldn’t have rented this decade anyway.
Films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Erin Brockovich, The Wedding Singer, the original Batman films, Mad Max 2, the early Harry Potter films and so on are rife throughout the Quickflix service. If you’re older than about 25 you’ve probably seen most of these films and you probably wouldn’t watch them again unless you were really keen.
In addition, the quality of Quickflix’s service is not fantastic. It’s standard definition, not high definition, and when you expand Quickflix’s viewer onto a large TV, blockiness is easily evident during scenes with a great deal of motion. In places, I would compared the quality to that of a VHS tape — it’s certainly not DVD quality, let alone Blu-ray quality, and it’s not even up to the standard of pirated films downloaded from the Internet in 2011 or HD YouTube.
Having said all this, the service is acceptable. You can, very easily, subscribe and start watching a number of top movies very easily. If you’re a movie buff, check out the catalogue here — you might find quite a lot to your taste. I didn’t … but then I’ve already seen most of it. You might just be getting stuck into your cinematic education. My advice: Ditch the 1980’s and go straight to the 1970’s. It’s a goldmine.
Right now, unfortunately, Quickflix’s streaming service is inferior to the market leader, Telstra’s T-Box platform, which has the biggest range and pretty good streaming quality. But the more troubling thing is that the limited range means even existing Quickflix subscribers (which I have been for some time) won’t find a stack here that they want. So far, the company’s streaming service is just a nice complement to its already stellar DVD rental service.
If Quickflix can bolster its range up to several thousand titles and increase the quality of its streaming, all of this will change, and I would predict that it would become incredibly popular at that point. But until then, it will remain of limited value.
Opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay. Image credit: Quickflix