Can Game of Thrones help save Quickflix?



news Struggling Australian streaming-media provider Quickflix has taken a punt on the hugely popular HBO series Game of Thrones, securing an electronic distribution deal that will allow online users to watch the series even if they aren’t Quickflix customers.

The decision will allow even non Quickflix subscribers to purchase episodes of the show on a casual basis, putting Quickflix in competition with Apple’s iTunes Store, which offers Australian customers access to Game of Thrones in HD for $3.49 per episode or $33.99 for a season pass; the Quickflix service, however, works across Android devices as well as iOS devices, potentially opening up a sizeable additional audience.

“We still love the subscription model, but we also recognise that current and recent series TV audience loves access to that content,” QuickFlix chairman and CEO Stephen Langford told Delimiter, indicating that the episodic model may be extended to other shows if the Game of Thrones offering proves successful.

“We’re taking a curated approach and most certainly would be looking at other opportunities,” he said. “We’re taking an iTunes approach to non Apple devices, of which there are lots.”

Quickflix has been working with a range of delivery partners to expand the reach of its content service, which was built on DVD-by-mail subscribers but has aggressively branched into IPTV over the past year after launching its Quickflix WatchNow service for PCs and Macs. On the back of a deal signed with HBO, WatchNow has subsequently been extended to the Microsoft Xbox 360, TV and Blu-ray players from the likes of Sony and Samsung, Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices and Google’s Android operating system as well.

There is more than simple customer service at play in the announcement, however: Game of Thrones has become a poster child for Internet piracy, with the first episode of the current Season Three setting a global record after it was downloaded over 1 million times.

In an attempt to reduce piracy, Foxtel has taken the unprecedented step of pulling the show forward to Monday nights, which means it airs in Australia just hours after it has been seen in the United States. Content deals with iTunes have put the show within reach for non-Foxtel subscribers, and the new Quickflix arrangement represents yet another tack in what is becoming an increasingly heated effort to fight off the threat of BitTorrent.

Even in the absence of subscription revenues, strong buy-in to Quickflix’s offering could be a boost for the ailing company, which in November was forced to sack senior leadership and laid off a third of its workforce despite an earlier surge in subscriber numbers.

That makes the decision to look beyond the subscriber model a significant one for Quickflix, whose willingness to experiment with new deliver models could pave the way for more open licensing arrangements in future.

Pricing for Quickflix’s Game of Thrones episodes has not yet been announced, but Langford said it would be “competitive with iTunes. It’s quality content and people are happy to pay for it. I daresay that a number of folks who are, unfortunately, accessing it illegally, would be happy to pay if it was on their device of choice.”

Online copyright remains a contentious issue, with shadow communications spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull on the record calling for “global copyright” and high-profile bloggers like John Birmingham getting publicly stuck into an Australian public that has shown its willingness to continue pirating Game of Thrones en masse despite the availability of legal alternatives.

Image credit: HBO


  1. I refuse to deal with any company with a Q in their name. This is why people pirate. I will continue to get it via bit torrent until such time as they pay me to watch it.

    • Not quite NBNAccuracy.

      There will be a few who will continue to pirate regardless, but I believe that we are getting to a point where fair and reasonable excuses run dry.

      I consider the following my trifecta for the avaialability of content.

      1. Cost – Should be equal to or less than the DVD when released.
      2. Timeliness – It should be available the same time it is aired in the states.
      3. Rights Managment – The choice to use the media centre/system I own.

      The availability on iTunes goes a long way to meet the criteria.

      I would be curious to see what you thought of people who stream video from the states by sidestepping the geoblocking. They have to watch advertising which inturn creates revenue for the production. Do you hold people accessing the material in this way in the same contempt?

    • I will admit to pirating in the past; for convenience and cost reasons.

      I am seriously considering a purchase on iTunes.

      I am the precise counter example to your claim that all pirates will refuse for the next just-out-of-reach reason.

      It isn’t that I can’t pirate it. I can; I know where to get 1080 quality-controlled available hours after release versions of the show that download at maximum capacity of my internet link.

      It isn’t that I have significantly changed my lifestyle (ie I haven’t just got a job or pay rise – I have had this job I have now with similar pay for a while now). It isn’t because I think Game of Thrones season 3 is particularly more worth it than any other (or previous) seasons.

      With Game of Thrones; they have pretty much reached the tipping point in convenience vs cost for me. I will be buying GoT season 3. I haven’t yet (I haven’t pirated either), and will do what I did with season 2; wait till it is finished before paying. But I will 100% be paying someone for it.

      If it was on Netflix in the US; I’d be watching it there, since I pay for a VPN and for a Netflix subscription – which has actually reduced my piracy rate by 95% (100% if you didn’t include my wife), since I have stuff to watch – even if it isn’t 100% what I would if I was pirating; I have found enough content to keep me interested.

      Obviously; I am not every pirate; but I am a pretty representative person that has pirated in the past and used the same excuses that you imply were bullshit. (timeliness, cost, region locks, drm, ease of use, quality of product and whatever else you can think of).

    • Interesting read there at the end of the AFR article. So the whole point of this is mute at the end of the year, people will be back to piracy again???

      When I first read this, I was interested to see what else they had (first time I had looked at Quickflix) as I thought the industry might be making some changes. Well I was disappointed to find still the status quo, nothing new, nothing interesting.

      I want to support the content creators (not via foxtel), but have no avenues to do so easily, legally** Note to content industry. I have money, I want to spend on good productions, give me an outlet that I can get the shows I want, when I want.

      Fox just controls too much in Australia, govenment has let that mogal get away with too much over the years. Talk about monopolies…..

      ** Yes, I know I can get things through iTunes but iTunes is not the answer.

      • Some of us have just as strong a moral objection to Apple as we do to Foxtel. However, I’m in no rush to pirate it. I’m enjoying the books right now, and will probably get it on DVD in a year or so.

    • An interesting point but, perhaps, not such an issue in practice as HBO is a significant shareholder in Quickflix.

      So, prior and irrevocable exclusivity clause with Foxtel aside, I would think that Game of Thrones will be available exactly wherever HBO says it will.

      IMHO I would like to see some price competition against iTunes now that there’s another source for GoT, but I’m not holding my breath…

      • Actually in practice, HBO isn’t as “significant” a shareholder in Quickflix as it used to be. Its $10 million investment is now only equal to about $1.5 million. And Foxtel have the contracts, so interesting to see what happens. It might still own a percentage of Quickflix, but its Foxtel contract would be worth much more to HBO.

  2. Will it actually be streamed from them in HD or just the crappy overly compressed format they currently offer?

    • This is what I’ve been trying to find out to no avail. If its 1080p/5.1 at a decent bitrate I’m interested. Anything less and they aren’t serious about combatting piracy, as there needs to be an incentive for people beyond “supporting the industry”.

    • This is the response I received from Quickflix:

      “HD Pay Per Play is not currently available on PC and Mac. It will be on other devices in the near future. Watch this space!”

      A totally generic answer, but sounds like HD is at least in the works, and they were even excited enough to use an exclamation mark after “watch this space!” :) . Perhaps Game of Thrones will be their first HD show. Mind you,going by their current worse-than-SD picture quality, their idea of HD could be 720p at 3mbps, so we’ll have to wait and see.

        • True :). Although that omission doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be 1080p, I have a bad feeling that blocky 720p is what they’ll initially class as “HD”. Given their current SD quality is well below that of DVD, its hard to imagine that their HD service will be much better.

          Still, I shall hope for the best, as I’d like to see Quickflix succeed if they can improve their service. You’d think they would have to know that if they are serious about competing with iTunes, they’ll need to match its picture and sound quality.

  3. No, not unless they fixed their rubbish “registered device” access system which requires modifying your registry to gain access.

    I’ve currently got all of my computers locked out because I ran ccleaner over them and it cleaned out all the rubbish registry entries that Quickflix put in there, and now I can’t remove/readd those computers online and due to their convoluted process I need to call them to do this.

  4. I gave up on the piece of crap known as Quickflix back when i had no use for it anymore and they decided to rip me off my money.

    I was told, by a CSR that because my renewal would happen on a Sunday, i could cancel the following Monday before the payment went through (auto-renewal) and i would get the money back (or at least pro-rata’ed) but no sir-ee, that day came, they ripped me off $50.00.

    Fought with them for a few days over email and phone and then promptly decided, never again will i go near that pile of crap service.

  5. Now see THIS I will look into and is definitely a step in the right direction (the iTunes model does not work in my case so the Quickflix model is my only option).

    I’ve used Quickflix before:

    1. When they simply did DVDs

    2. When it came to the Xbox 360 and there was a free trial of their streaming service

    I have to say – the streaming service over the Xbox 360 was pretty good.

    Add to this there is a Quickflix app for my Samsung TV – it is definitely looking like the winner at the moment.

    I look forward to the day Quickflix actually announces that Game of Thrones is “now available” and not just “we’ve signed an agreement”.

    This actually reminds me – I need to look into the Foxtel on 360 application to see if they have Game of Thrones available on their On Demand / Pay Per View service on the Xbox 360.

    If they don’t – Foxtel have really dropped the ball there.

  6. I tried Quickflix on my Xbox360 but was not impressed, any decent content was PPV and on top of that you have to shell out to MS for Gold Live membership – it’s far cheaper for me to subscribe to unblockUS + Netflix and watch decent content on my ATV’s!

    • I too tried it on the 360 once via a trial and found that they only have a very small number of videos on the service and they rotate those every couple of week so the trial is long enough to browse every title and probably watch them all if you are desperate.
      I cancelled midway through the trial and never went back.
      I am still surprised that since the 360 has sold roughly the same amount of consoles as the PS3 they didn’t release both consoles apps at around the same time.
      Now if they had a range of titles even a quarter as long as Netflix I would try it again but until then I say “Bugger off idiots please go broke soon so that we no longer have to hear about you.”

  7. Last seasons of Game of Thrones was not allowed to be in HD because I think Foxtel said “no”

  8. Is it just me or can someone please point me to where on the Quickflix website it says GoT Season 3?

    How much will it cost me to watch the complete Season 3?

    Terrible, just terrible website.

  9. Reading about Quckflix struggles is infuriating. Seriously, it isn’t difficult. I am quite happy to pay $15 or so a month to watch anything I want when I want. Even if that means I am restricted to 5 movies a month. But I’m certainly not going to pay a subscription per month to watch 10 year old movies then be forced toextra pay per movie for anything even remotely new. It just isn’t going to happen.

    Qickflix: Incorporate your recent release movies and TV shows into a reasonably priced subscription plan and your subscription numbers will go THROUGH THE ROOF. Meanwhile, people will continue to source these things via the avenues they already are. It’s that simple.

    • Exactly, why the hell should we pay extra for the sort of stuff Netflix includes in their $7.95usd per month subscription – sure NF doesn’t have GoT but their service is the benchmark in every other area!

      $15 per month would be quite reasonable if all the good content was included – wake up QF, PPV is a dying model tied to legacy able services. In the modern era you charge a monthly fee and let consumers choose to watch whatever they want!

      See the following examples:

      Netflix, spotify, Hulu etc etc!

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