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Quickflix: Out To Play...After The Storm

By Oonagh Reidy | Monday | 29/04/2013

Exclusive: Stephen Langsford, QF CEO talks with Smarthouse about movies, binge TV and why it's the opposite of a movie store.

After a period of tumult, Quickflix is back. 

Last week the content provider announced its movie and TV content would be available within hours of screening in the US via IPTV, pulling the rug from under Foxtel. Just today, it announced cheaper all you can eat content IPTV streaming, and DVDs for $15. 

"We are in the early stages of the IPTV market [in Australia]", says Langsford, and believes Quickflix has an advantage as an early entrant to the growing industry as Foxtel, Telstra and other players like FetchTV, Hoyts and Ezyflix.tv are all vying for a slice of the rapidly growing video downloads market. 

QF has been busy streamlining, cutting costs and rolling out to a slew of devices to give it "critical market" in the last quarter. 

Until now the focus was on restructuring after it ran into considerable financial difficulties and making sure it was a "lean mean machine." It recently received a $1.7 million funding boost from global institutional investor Crede Capital. 

"As early movers our job is to run hard and fast, which we've done for the past 18 months. Now our job is to perfect the user experience and get our service into the market."

QF don't disclose critical numbers outside of cycle said Langsford, but had just over 119,500 paying customers and subscribers streaming via Internet - an increase of almost 20% to 42,000, at last count in January. The service also delivers content to consumers' door via mail. 

Revenue was up 6% to $5.6m. 

The HBO deal makes QF content more attractive says QF founder and CEO Langsford, and is now "confident" about the future.

The HBO deal "is a first with recent and current series" of HBO titles including cult shows Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire, and will be available in Oz within hours of broadcast in the US, a delivery which Foxtel has previously prided itself on having exclusively. 

QF streaming app has befriended a string of devices - everyone from Panasonic, Samsung, Apple's iPhone, iPad, Mac and most recently announced the QF app would be preinstalled on Microsoft Windows 8 PC including PCs from Dell, HP, Asus, and Acer. 

"We'd like to expand the range of episodic TV even further. We think we have a pretty good partnership with device partners." 

And should we expect more content deals in the future? 

"Certainly, there are more deals we'd like to do," he says. 

However, the Internet TV market is "streets behind" in the US, "but there's a big prize to be had" if players can get it right. 

QF has an advantage over rivals as viewers have n array of options to suit them - stream per view (movies are around $5.99) or have all you can eat, or digest rentals of around 60,000 movie and TV titles - including classics like The Sopranos, Last of The Summer Wine, Downtown Abbey, and films like Les Miserables, Brave and Hysteria.  

65% of QF customer base view content on-demand via Play service says Langsford

What are we watching? 

"Demand is spread across its catalogue but Kids TV and TV series [like Game of Thrones] are a big part of QF mix."

"The interesting thing is the Internet model is bringing up new trends such as binge TV," where viewers watch a slew of episodes at once.

This is something we are all guilty of from time to time, as we no longer have to wait for the next episode to be screened on TV. 

The titles on QF are an inverse of the movie store, which train consumers to purchase the latest releases, says Langsford

DVD stores are "disappearing and I see an opportunity to service these customers." 

The DVD market is worth $1.5bn in Australia. 

"Foxtel have a 27% share in Australia...we're the only service in the market that offers subscription streaming but offer pay per view also." 

"There's a lot of players that deliver pay per views but not subscription streaming content." 

One of its other IPTV rivals FetchTV which offers free to air channels and downloads is a "terrific box", says QF boss, but "our strategy is not to have a box - were a content brand happy to run over other devices."

Meanwhile Telstra BigPond movies is also going hard on Foxtel content which it now offers through T Box and a bundling service announced last week. 

But after all the turmoil, "we hope for lots and lots of growth - if we can achieve Netflix-like penetration here, we could get up to 2.5 million".

And certainly that's a big prize. 

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