John Drinnan

Media writer for the New Zealand Herald

Competition heats up for pay TV

Quickflix has a deal to screen BBC content such as Dr Who, featuring Karen Gillan, in Australia and New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Quickflix has a deal to screen BBC content such as Dr Who, featuring Karen Gillan, in Australia and New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

The pay-television market becomes more competitive today with the launch of broadband video-on-demand service Quickflix, which will challenge Sky TV.

The company listed on the ASX last October and will be taking on Sky, its online offshoot iSky and the internet-connected Igloo TV, which is due to start in the next two months.

It will also be a commercial alternative to global broadband brands such as Apple TV and Google TV.

Quickflix will initially offer unlimited streaming from libraries of around 650 titles for a monthly subscription of $16.99.

It will also offer pay-per-view "blockbuster" titles for $6.99 that are in a similar window to DVD releases.

Chief executive Chris Taylor said video-on-demand through broadband was in its early days in Australia and New Zealand.

But Quickflix would be a catalyst for change in the pay-TV sector that is looking ahead to the launch of Igloo - a joint venture between Sky and Television New Zealand.

Taylor said Quickflix's pricing package gave it an advantage over Sky and Igloo.

The system doesn't rely on a set-top box and content can be streamed on computers, internet-connected TVs, iPads, iPhones and PlayStation 3 games consoles.

New Zealanders would back the venture after years paying what he said were high fees for Sky TV packages "with a lot of material they were not interested in".

The Commerce Commission is investigating whether Sky's joint venture with TVNZ meets Section 47 Commerce Act merger obligations.

Taylor said Quickflix has already been active with the commission and internet service providers, raising issues about Igloo and what it alleges are unfair trade practices.

Taylor said the removal of data caps was needed for downloads of movies and TV shows and was important for the development of video on demand. Quickflix had approached ISPs for zero rating, uncapped deals, but some had already signed with Sky.

Quickflix has signed a deal with Orcon, and Slingshot is expected to announced details soon.

Taylor said some ISPs had been "forbidden" from making deals with players such as Quickflix.

"Most ISPs have chosen not to sign up to those archaic terms, but some have and I can tell you they are not very happy about it," he said.

Sky TV chief executive John Fellet rejected Taylor's claims it had exclusive deals for zero-rating with ISPs, saying that agreements only required them to deliver Sky more favourable terms than given to competitors.

Fellet said two broadband providers - Telecom and TelstraClear - had not signed up as resellers, and represented 70 per cent of the broadband market.

Taylor said that Quickflix would not be offering the DVD service it did in Australia.

The only other difference in the offering was that Quickflix New Zealand would not have a package of shows from Home Box Office because Sky had signed an exclusive deal for New Zealand rights to HBO programming, which is the foundation for its premium channel Soho.

Quickflix has a deal to screen BBC content in Australia and New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 27 Dec 2014 08:30:18 Processing Time: 522ms