Aussie DVD-by-mail and Streaming media company QuickFlix launched a New Zealand streaming service today (obviously they feel the DVD-by-mail market is served well enough already). Offering movies and TV shows for $9.99/month it seems like a great step in the right direction for NZ, but there are some issues.
The company is already established in Australia and has existing relationship and a proven track record. This should make it easier for them to secure the all important content rights.
Already a number of ISPs (initially Orcon and Slingshot) have agreed to zero-rate the data so that users can take advantage of the service without needing to worry about their fragile data caps.
I don’t like to feel like I’m concentrating on the negative, but it seems like there’s a few significant issues with the service…
The technology is somewhat proprietary. Content can be viewed on Windows and Mac PCs and, in theory, Sony PlayStation 3 consoles and some Bravia TVs. That’s it. Unlike the popular US NetFlix service the content is not available through devices like the Apple TV or devices like the iPad, iPhone and Android smartphone. Also the content can’t be downloaded or saved for viewing offline.
Also the premium Pay-Per-View content is not available on any devices at all, only through PC and Mac computers.
The TV content is very limited. Currently only a very small range of BBC titles (and in many cases only the first series). Although to be fair we’re actually winning here – there is NO streaming TV content for the Australian service.
Very limited movie selection also – fewer than 360 titles, and less than 25 from the last two years (not including PPV titles), and many of those that you’ll never have heard of.
Before you read on…
QuickFlix have clarified their pricing to me on Twitter – the introductory price is the standard monthly price for people who sign up in the introductory period. So if you join before the 30th of June then your standard monthly price indefinitely will be $9.99 (unless there is a notified price rise in future).
This is still unclear on their site, and the stuff below was written as a result of that lack of clarity. Hopefully they will make this offer clearer.
I also have a big problem with the cost, or at least how it’s promoted. It’s advertised on the site as $9.99/mth. It says this is an introductory price, but there is no more information. If you click on the Join link you’ll see this…
“Subscribe to Quickflix – Only $9.99 Per Month” says the title in big bold letters. No “for a limited time” or “introductory price of” just a big, bold $9.99 per month.
If you fill in your details there you’ll be taken to the next page, where you’d hope to find some more details…
No more details on the regular price, or for how long you pay $9.99 or even any details about what you’re signing up for really. Also a delightfully confusing detail – “If you are joining as part of a promotional offer, there won’t be any charges if you cancel your subscription before the promotional offer period ends. If you continue after the promotional offer this is the credit card we will use for your monthly subscription payment.”
It would seem reasonable to assume that an Introductory Price might be a promotional offer so maybe you don’t have to pay anything now? But when do you? I don’t think the Introductory Price is a promotional offer. As far as I can tell if you put credit card details in there you’ll be paying $9.99 for your first month (actually 30 days – they bill every thirty days, not by calendar month) plus the $8.50 administration fee.
As of now there is NOTHING on the site to say how much the regular price is. It is $16.99/mth – getting close to twice the advertised introductory price – and that will be the price from June 30th. The only way I found this out was by phoning their help line, answered, eventually by Australian staff.
Unfortunately the person I spoke to knew nothing of the NZ service at all. He asked if I was interested in the DVD or streaming service. He quoted me Australian prices, and told me about Australian terms. If I hadn’t already been aware of the full NZ price (thanks to an Orcon press release) I would have taken him at his repeatedly-wrong word. Instead I told him he was wrong, and eventually, after a few minutes on hold while he went to talk to someone, found out when the introductory pricing expired.
While I’m not sure, I suspect that inducing someone to signup for a service on a limited time special offer without disclosing the full pricing and when it comes in to effect would be against NZ’s consumer protection laws.
I understand that today is the first day they’ve been open to the public and that there could be teething issues, but it’s not like they haven’t had time to prepare. Not having this information clearly available is simply misleading.
In general I like where QuickFlix is heading, but I think there are a lot of issues to be resolved first, and sadly I’m not convinced that all of them can be – the licensing of content being the primary one.