An article from Sydney Morning Herald’s Sacha Molitorisz about the decline of DVD rental marketplace suggests that the Internet is killing DVD Rentals. However the article gave only vague hints on how traditional Brick and Mortar stores was facing competition from the net, spending more time talking about DVD rental machines from RedRoomDVD and Oovie.
If we take piracy out of the equation, just who is providing online video to Australians. Since we do not get Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime (or any of the major video streaming/retail operation except Apple iTunes), who is providing legal video for download or streaming (or even physical disk renting)?
- FetchTV. When I reviewed FetchTV, I found that the video rental side of the device to be quite strong for movies, and pretty weak for TV shows on demand and somewhat stronger for IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) channels .The fact that it is also a great PVR and it is combined into a single box can make FetchTV a strong player once its secures more content.
- BigPond Movies. Telstra’s clone of Neflix recently sold its DVD rental assets to Quickflix, and is concentrating on online movies. Only available to Windows users, and some smartphones have a subset service. While bundled into its Bigpond ISP banner, the service is open to all for internet users in Australia.
- Bigpond TV. Sister service to Bigpond Movies, it offers limited channels for its propriety T-Box as well as some LG and Samsung devices. Channels include sport channels TVN, NRL and AFL , and Bigpond branded News and Sports News.
- Foxtel. With its Download service Foxtel has for its subscribers and non subscribers content to watch on computers. Service is only for Windows users and some Telstra smartphones have some content available.
- Quickflix is currently providing DVD rentals via mail. It is currently seeking distribution deals (recently gaining access to IPTV enabled Sony TV). News of the streaming service should be coming by the end of 2011.
- Free to Air. Each of the established television broadcasters has an online catchup service, from iView (ABC) Fixplay (Nine) Catchup TV (TEN), Yahoo7 Plus7 (Seven) and SBS Online (SBS).
- Xbox360/PS3. Microsoft has teamed with Foxtel to allow Foxtel content on the Xbox 360. Plus7 from Seven Network is also available on the PS3, as well as ABC iView and Sony’s own Movie store
- iTunes. The only US based company that has extensive video content available for Australia. Video can be rented or bought The bought prices are exorbitant, mirroring physical media prices without the flexability of device choice (computers that support iTunes or iOS devices like iPod, iPad and AppleTV).
- Youtube. You should never underestimate the power of Google’s video service, as it had allowed Australian creators like Natalie Tran to have quite a nice lifestyle. For many, cat videos and people getting punched in the goolies is a popular pastime and represnts proberbly the most video streaming service in Australia (although I do not have stats at the moment).
- Vuze. While one of the most used bit torrent clients used for piracy, Vuze does have a commercial front end, but mainly caters for independent content.
- ISP’s. Some ISP like iiNet and TPG have a range of video content. Some of it mirrors the Fetch TV IPTV content, most is local and independent content.
- Newspapers. Both Fairfax and News Ltd offer video content via its website, both embedded in web stories and with dedicated TV Channels.
- Others. Smaller organisations like the WA Government and Australian Christian Channel offer IPTV services.
So what initial observations can we make? Well, in ease of use and flexibility, piracy is hard to beat. The use of Windows or Apple DRM prevent many users accessing the services and what devices they can watch it on. Also users will come across quota caps with many of these services, however some ISP’s will have made deals with content providers to allow to allow the content to be unmetered. In reality, Australia is far behind the US, and will continue for a while due to content deals, distribution deals, device lock in deal.
It really depends on what kind of content you are after and who is your ISP. You also have to determine if the device you want to use can access the content. There is no site that does the lot. So, maybe Sacha is onto something with the DVD vending machines killing Video Ezy?