Video Ezy has entered the increasingly crowded ondemand video market, launching videoezyondemand.co.nz today.
The DVD rental chain has had some help from an established player getting online, and a plan to cut its bricks-and-mortar stores in on the internet action.
The new service was created for Video Ezy by Access Digital Entertainment, the Australian company behind Ezyflix.tv, which entered the NZ market in September last year — and Video Ezy On demand has the same basic layout and features as Ezyflix.tv.
Video Ezy's service has Google Android, iOS (iPad, iPhone), PC, Google Chromecast and Samsung Smart TV apps and a range of TV series and movies for rent.
At first glance, there seems to be a decent range of movies (all the major studios are onboard), but only two series are listed under TV sections New Release category.
Similar to other ondemand services, customers will get a 30-day window to watch a movie once they've rented it, and two days from the time they hit "play".
Video Ezy On Demand will be up against a range of contenders from those that let you buy and rent movies (including Apple's iTunes and Apple TV, Google Play, Ezyflix), those that let you stream all the content you like for a fixed monthly price (Spark's recently launched 15/month Lightbox and Sky TV's pending video ondemand service, set to launch by years's end) and Quickflix, which offers a mix of streaming and pay-per-view (Quickflix). Then there are increasing options to access ondemand movie or TV content through an Xbox or PlayStation. And TVNZ is moving to register all of its Ondemand users, for better ad targetting but also in preperation for possible paid content. Relatively low barriers to entry — at least for a basic service — mean all-comers are piling in.
Spark is the only player to state a first-year target for Lightbox, which has a launch-year budget of $20 million. On a recent results conference call, CEO Simon Moutter says its gunning for 70,000+ subscribers by June next year.
Sky TV said it will spend $100 million+ over the next three years adapting its Sky Go platform for ondemand streaming, and upgrading decoders to support its pending Netflix-style service.
A cut for the offline guys
What do the people who run Video Ezy stores think of the company's move online?
Russell Clark, joint managing director of Video Ezy International, which wrangles local franchises, says the new On Demand service is all about giving the traditional outlets a shot-in-the-arm.
A local store franchisee will get a cut when someone in their territory rents a movie or TV show from the new website (movies are being sold for $6.99 in standard definition or $7.99 in high definition. Mr Clark says movie studios and distributors take the "lion's share" of that rental fee).
And there will be instore specials and promotions advertised on Videoezyondemand.co.nz designed to drive people back into stores.
Mr Clark says refused to give any financials, but said franchisees were still doing well from disc rentals. Some had chosen not to renew when leases had expired, but the company still has 90 bricks and mortar stores throughout NZ.
NBR trialed Ezyflix shortly after it launched, and the technology was solid, so presumably the re-skinned platform will also work well for Video Ezy On Demand.
As ever, content is the key.
Does Video Ezy On Demand have the same breadth of content as the average Video Ezy store?
No, Mr Clark says. Stores will always have the best selection.
But of course the new ondemand option has to be attractive too to reel in a new generation of renters.
With punters able to choose from an expanding range of online services, it's going to be a tricky balancing act.