It is yet to be seen if Australians can hang up their pirate boots for good and take to the paid services with the same dedication.
So who are the main players and disrupters? Senior Analyst from Informa Tony Brown givesMashable his insights at the Multi-Screen TV Summit continues in Sydney, bringing together the who’s who of Australian television to discuss the future.
The old player, pay-tv subscription service Foxtel, has just slashed their on demand subscription price from an out-of-market $19.99 per month to a standard $9.99. The service, which launched in March this year, allows you to access all the movies licensed to Foxtel. New releases are available on a pay-per-view system.
It is early days for Foxtel in this space, and Brown believes it could be a smart play by the powerhouse.
Companies like Foxtel “are in the streaming space as a defensive move to try and fight off the new streaming players and also to try and get into the part of the consumer market they have not yet breached,” Brown said.
“Given the way that the market is moving there is no doubt that Foxtel is deadly serious about succeeding in the over-the-top (OTT) video space, they need this as an avenue for growth and to stop other OTT players from coming into the market and maybe eating away at Foxtel’s core pay TV business.”
Streaming service Quickflix is the Australian answer to Netflix. It provides a variety of premium HBO shows along with blockbuster movies across multiple devices for a monthly fee of $9.99.
Premium content such as new release television shows and movies will cost you extra.
Stephen Langford, the founder of Quickflix, told ZDNet content was king in the Australian market.
“I think to be a service in this market you need to have secured the content deals,” he said. “It’s multiple layers. You first have to, as we’ve invested significantly over the past few years, have a platform in place,” he said.
“We’ve secured a number of content deals for our subscription streaming service, and built a point of difference to the Netflix services in that we offer subscription streaming, and pay-per-view movies and pay-per-episode TV.”
Even though U.S. streaming service Netflix hasn’t launched in Australia, it is making waves in the local market due to an ISP workaround. It is ranked the second most popular paid content media company in Australia, according to a recent report.
Signing up to the American Netflix will set you back $US8.99 subscription cost, plus the cost of an unblocker which is around $US5. There is talk if and when the company finally launches in Australia, the cost structure will change and the service will be vastly different to the U.S. modeldue to other players like Foxtel already having digital content rights for popular shows.
“Netflix has been successful because it offers unlimited content at a very compelling price point – with excellent subscriber recommendations – and whether people can replicate that model in Australia on any significant scale remains to be seen,” Brown said.
“In addition there would also have to be some concern about whether or not they would need to spend more than they are comfortable with in terms of content rights in order to get established in Australia.”
At a much higher price point, the Google store lets you buy HD new movies for $25 or rent them for $7 and HD television shows are available for $3.50 an episode or $32.50 a season. There is no all-you-can eat subscription service.
Chromecast by Google, which launched in Australia this year to rival Apple TV, allows the consumer to watch their downloaded content on their television. The beauty of this new product? For $AUD49 you can watch movies not only purchased from Play, but from sources such as Foxtel’s Presto, Quickflix and the ABC’s iView.
The old trusty player, Apple, offers movies and television shows at the click of the button. Each HD television show costs $3.50 and an entire season is listed at $33 with the delay from U.S. release date is minimal. New HD movies are around the $7 mark for rentals and $25 for purchase. There is no all-you-can-eat service from Apple and it draws pretty close comparisons price-wise to Google.
You can use Airplay to connect your devices to your television, or for an experience with some cool extras — podcasts, Red Bull videos and Vevo’s music videos — hook up an Apple TV. Apple are focussed on expanding their breadth of content in the Australian market, while being first with new content.
It took a while for the free-to-air TV networks to catch on and realise the consumer wanted on-demand television. Now channels 7, 9 and 10 plus ABC and SBS all have decent offerings in the catch-up TV space, as they try to remain relevant with consumers.
“In addition you also have the incumbent commercial TV operators with their own catch-up TV services, they realize the viewing model is changing and they want to remain relevant to their viewers and provide their content on a ‘TV Anywhere’ basis,” Brown said.
Brown believes the real issue for the commercial networks is the dramatic change in business model for online video.
“Their current model is based around mass consumption and then selling advertising around that but this is not easily transferable to the online world. In addition, much of the best content they screen is actually purchased from the US content producers so may not be available to them in the online environment,” he said.
Nine Network is also working on their own streaming service called StreamCo. After delays, it is expected to launch in 2015.
FreeviewPlus, which is a collection of catch-up free-to-air television in one place is set to launch on September 3. To use the service you will need a Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) which is only available through a select number of brands in Australia. In its present state, it doesn’t look like FreeviewPlus will disrupt the market much at all.
The real battle – content
In Australia, the real battle will be with content rights. Foxtel, due to its wealth of content deals with U.S. companies, is in a very powerful position in the content market. The only way a smaller player could compete is by spending up big on content.
Having content in a timely fashion is also of major concern to Australian consumers, and is often credited for the high rate of illegal downloads.
“The reality is that whether the content providers like it or not people want to watch what they want and when they want it, if they see Game of Thrones has been screened in the US then they want it at the same time,” Brown said.
“The content providers may not like it but we look likely to keep on moving towards more of a global ‘Content Village’ where the old territory-by-territory model becomes very hard to maintain.”
On August 21 -22, Sydney hosted the Multi-Screen TV Summit where senior analyst Tony Brown is speaking alongside guests speakers from Mi9, Telstra, Quickflix and others. The two-day conference hopes to examine the changing TV landscape in Australia.
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