The First Affordable Unlimited Movie Streaming Subscription Service for Australians
Streaming movie services in Australia haven't taken off in a big way, because paying between $5.99 and $6.99 to watch a new release movie, is not good value for money. That's about to change however, because the first affordable video on demand subscription service went live this week, with unlimited monthly plans.
On Wednesday 27 October the online DVD rental service Quickflix, announced the first unlimited digital movie streaming plans for Australians. From $14.99 per month, subscribers to the new 'WatchNow' movie on demand service, get unlimited access to stream as many movies as they want, on multiple devices.
I really thought Apple was going to be the first company to offer a VOD subscription service in Australia through iTunes, but a year has passed since the release of the Apple TV 2, and pay-per-view streaming is the only option available. New release movie rentals in iTunes cost $5.99 for SD, and $6.99 for HD 720p quality. BigPond also had an opportunity to offer affordable streaming plans, but all they have is new release movies for $5.99 per rental.
It's interesting to note that BigPond sold its DVD rental service to Quickflix in September this year, to focus on their pay-per-view movie downloads and Telstra T-Box. I was a BigPond Movies DVD customer myself, and when I learned the service was going to be shut down, I thought it was a big mistake. I'm sure they expected many of their customers would be happy moving from an affordable monthly subscription, to a pay-per-view model, but I expect most customers did not, and jumped ship to Quickflix just like I did -- especially because Quickflix had already announced that they were planning to launch a streaming subscription later in the year.
Internet subscription services for movies are not new of course, Netflix members in the USA have been able to instantly watch unlimited movies and TV shows since January 2007. Netflix recently began expanding into other countries too -- Canada was added in 2010, followed by Latin America and the Caribbean in September 2011. Netflix is launching in the UK and Ireland early next year, so it's possible we'll have a Netflix internet movie subscription service in Australia by the end of 2012.
The new Quickflix WatchNow service will only support a handful of devices to begin with, so it's going to take a while to catch up with the more than 450 devices that stream Netflix worldwide. From the 27 October digital streaming is available through Sony Internet Video enabled Bravia TVs, Blu-ray Players and Home Theatre Systems. Older Sony devices may not be supported though -- I own a Sony BDP-S350 Blu-ray player, and was disappointed to discover that it is not Internet Video enabled.
If you don't own any Sony products you have to wait a few more weeks until 10 November, when the movie streaming service is available for Mac and Windows PC. The PS3 and other devices will follow later this year, and hopefully the list will include the Xbox 360, Wii, Apple TV, Google TV, TiVo, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and many other popular brand home entertainment systems.
You can currently only register up to 5 WatchNow devices for streaming movies, but you can stream to up to 3 devices at the same time.
Just like Netflix, Quickflix gives you the choice of an unlimited streaming only plan, or bundled subscriptions for movie streaming plus DVD/Blu-ray discs by mail. To celebrate the launch of the WatchNow service, Quickflix is giving all paying members free access to unlimited streaming movies until the end of 2011. That's a great offer, because current DVD plans start at just $5.99, which means you get nearly 2 months of unlimited free digital movie streaming for under $6!
When the free subscription period ends, current subscribers will be able to choose the unlimited streaming only plan for $14.99, or upgrade to a new bundled plan from $7 to $14 per month, which means bundled plans will start at $19.99 for unlimited streaming and 2 DVDs per month. In the USA Netflix only charges $7.99 for its stand alone Watch Instantly service, and bundled plans are $15.98 USD for unlimited streaming and DVDs, but before you start wingeing, don't forget that there are over 300 million people in the USA, so economies of scale keep the prices lower.
There is good news for Blu-ray fans too, because if you choose the Quickflix Standard or Ultimate plan, you'll get unlimited Blu-ray rentals, DVDs, and streaming.
Quickflix unlimited streaming subscribers will also get access to its free IPTV Hollywood news entertainment channel, hosted by Ruby Rose, and one lucky winner of the Quickflix 'Sofa to Screen' competition.
To begin with the Quickflix WatchNow movie subscription service will have less than 1,000 titles available, but they do have a large catalogue of over 50,000 DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
What do you think about the Quickflix unlimited streaming plans, are they good value for money?