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Breaking Bad appears, disappears from new NZ download service

UPDATE Sept 7: Another example that online content restrictions are all about protecting old-world geographic distribution monopolies, not copyright:

EzyFlix expanded across the Tasman this week.

I got excited when I spied the prelaunch site, particularly the inclusion of the hot TV series Breaking Bad (iTunes NZ offers no TV series, and the quality shows you find on Sky TV's Soho - including Breaking Bad - are entirely absent from other services).

It seemed an over-the-top provider had finally to take a bite out of Sky TV's monopoly.

When Ezyflix CEO Craig White visited NBR Towers a couple of days before the NZ version of the site went live, I raved about the unexpected presence of Breaking Bad. Mr White said sorry, but Breaking Bad and some other Exyflix Australia content won't be available on this side of the Tasman. Further deals were pending with Sony and Universal, but some content would always be tricky (read: premium series where Sky TV has the rights wrapped up).

Come launch day - Thursday - Breaking Bad was present on the NZ site. NBR bought an epiode.

So did Auckland woman Siobhan Keogh.

"What's that, Ezyflix? You have Breaking Bad available for New Zealand less than a day after US? Shut up and take my money!," she tweeted.

Sadly, it looks like it was all a technical blunder. Or maybe someone complained. For yesterday, Breaking Bad suddenly disappeared from EzyFlix NZ.

Norman transmission has been restored. Now, if Ms Keogh wants to watch the latest episodes of the series, she can buy a full Sky TV subscription, join geoblock-busting Slingshot, do a little grey downloading, or hit the Torrents ...

Aussie movie, TV download service expands to NZ

Sept 5: Another online content player has entered the NZ market.

EzyFlix, which launched in Australia a fortnight ago, offers movies and TV series for streaming or download. Its NZ site opened for business today.

Content is available in 720p high definition for downloads, with adapative technology used for streaming.

EzyFlix is owned by Access Digital Entertainment, whose CEO and majority owner Craig White tells NBR ONLINE the service has 2000 movies (most around $6.99) and a number of A-list TV shows on offer ($2.99 an episode).

Not all have made it across the Tasman.

Deals still have to be finalised with Sony and Universal for NZ. Beyond those two biggies, all the majors are onboard bar HBO (which some would see as the jewel in the paid content crown; Sky TV has its content exclusive to its Soho channel in this part of the world). There's no sports content at launch, and no immediate plans to add any.

Mr White wasn't sure if signature EzyFlix Australia show Breaking Bad would make it to the NZ store for launch when he visited NBR earlier this week, but four of the latest episodes have appeared today (unlike iTunes in most countries outside NZ, previous series aren't available, or at least not yet). Episodes will screen within 24 hours of screening in the US.

Fingers-crossed EzyFlix will be able to further flesh out its content.

Certainly, Mr White knows the biz. Before setting up EzyFlix his prior roles included sales director for 20th Century Fox Australia, wrangling a $A250 million budget. Like former QuickFlix CEO Chis Taylor (the one-time head of Sky TV's Prime channel), he knows the ins-and-outs of the arcane world of content contracts and content windows.

iTunes Australia offers movies and TV series for download or steaming. iTunes NZ offers only movies (though some Kiwis make a virtual hop across the Tasman to access the Aussie version).

EzyFlix doesn't have rival QuckFlix array of viewing options, which include partnerships with a number of smart TV and console makers, but is in negotiations.

And if you want to watch its content on a regular television, you'll have to make your own arrangements. 

EzyFlyx has Android and iOS (iPad, iPhone) apps, but Mr White complains that Apple spikes any app from its AppStore that supports AirPlay (Apple's one-click feature to mirror content from a MacBook or iPad to your TV, if $149 Apple TV wi-fi box is attached). If your app incorporates support for AirPlay, it won't get approved by Apple, Mr White claims.

On the plus side, the CEO says EzyFlix content can be downloaded or streamed to a wider variety of devices than iTunes content. 

And a nifty feature lets you tap the UltraViolet service to access your EzyFlix content from the cloud, or share it with up to five other users.

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Comments and questions

I only count 300, well short of 2000.

Only 9 different tv series listed (Breaking Bad 6 series, Grey's Anatomy 3 Castle 5 Vampire Diaries 3 Body of Proof 2 Falling Skies 2 Revenge 2 Good Luck Charlie 2)

I'll stick with Netflix/Hulu via VPN.

As noted in the story, not all the content has made it across the Tasman. EzyFlix is still in negotiations with studios and content aggregators to get all of the content available on its Aussie version of the service here.

Not sure I believe his comment re AirPlay support given that so many video apps do support it. I use many apps such as YouTube and Plex that have the functionality.

Yip will stick with Netflix via way better value for $'s.
what happens if you buy the content and then company goes under ???

Here is a list of who's got what based on IMDB's top 50 Movies list of 2012. We need Netflix in New Zealand!

IMDB TOP 50 Movies 2012 EZYFlix QuickFlix Netflix(US)
Spring Breakers-------------------- no no yes
Mud ------------------------------------------no no yes
The Dark Knight Rises-----------------no no yes
The Place Beyond the Pines------- no no yes
Pitch Perfect---------------------------- no no yes
Dredd----------------------------------- no yes yes
The Avengers---------------------------- yes no yes
The Hunger Games---------------------yes no yes
The Iceman---------------------------- yes no yes
Life of Pi----------------------------------- yes no yes
Django Unchained--------------------- yes no yes
Jack Reacher---------------------------- no no yes
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journe no yes yes
Silver Linings Playbook-------------- yes no yes
Argo------------------------------------------no no yes
The Perks of Being a Wallflower-----yes no yes
Anna Karenina----------------------------no no yes
Cloud Atlas--------------------------------no yes yes
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-no no yes
Magic Mike---------------------------- yes no yes
Savages----------------------------------- no no yes
Passion----------------------------------- no yes yes
Les Miserables-------------------------- no no yes
Prometheus---------------------------- no no yes
Looper----------------------------------- yes no yes
Ted------------------------------------------ no no yes
The Company You Keep------------- no no yes
21 Jump Street---------------------------no no yes
Rise of the Guardians-------------- no no yes
Dark Shadows----------------------------yes no yes
The Amazing Spider-Man--------------no no yes
Here Comes the Boom-------------- no no yes
Zero Dark Thirty---------------------------no yes yes
Skyfall----------------------------------------no no yes
The Cabin in the Woods-------------- no no yes
At Any Price---------------------------- no no yes
What Maisie Knew--------------------- no no yes
Rock of Ages---------------------------- no no yes
Wreck-It Ralph----------------------------yes yes yes
The Expendables 2--------------------- yes no yes
Sinister----------------------------------- no no yes
Flight----------------------------------- yes no yes
Lawless------------------------------------ no no yes
Red Dawn---------------------------- yes no yes
Hotel Transylvania--------------------- yes no yes
Snow White and the Huntsman no no yes
This Is 40-----------------------------------yes yes yes
Lincoln----------------------------------- yes no yes
The Impossible--------------------- no no yes
End of Watch---------------------------- no no yes

Why do we even bother looking at joining any over the top service that launches in New Zealand, when all the rights are held by Sky TV? Any service that tries has a poor selection content wise, so no one is driven to sign up. Content is king, and until Sky TVs iron grip of online content is loosened (preferably copped off) then the grey download/geo unblock options make the most sense to anyone with a internet connection. Sadly can't see Sky TV being told by any government that online content is for the masses ever.