With the trials and tribulations of Quickflix and Ezyflix, the arrival of Premier League Pass and Lightbox, the impending arrival of Sky's Neon and murmurings that Netflix will launch in Australia next year, there's plenty of action in the subscription video on-demand market at the moment. And that's good news for content consumers. But one of the major impediments to uptake is the hassle—or perception of hassle—in getting that content on the main TV. So, following in the footsteps of Quickflix and the free-to-air broadcasters, Lightbox has launched an app that offers its service through Samsung Smart TVs.
Since the launch of Lightbox, users have had to watch on an iPad, a laptop or, with a big of jiggery pokery through HDMI cables or Apple TV, on television. But the app now lets customers view content directly through the Samsung Smart Hub (Samsung is the highest-selling Smart TV brand in New Zealand) and navigate with the remote. The service is available for TVs made from 2012 onwards and on selected Samsung Smart AV devices.
Users need to sign up for Lightbox (for $15 a month) on their desktop or laptop before they log in to the app on the TV.
No customer numbers have been released since launch, but chief executive Simon Moutter said Lightbox hoped to gain 70,000 by 2015. And Lightbox chief executive Kym Niblock says in a release that "thousands of New Zealanders have had a taste of what Lightbox is all about", something no doubt helped by its free 30-day free trial.
"A fantastic range of really good shows, all sitting there ready to watch, ad-free. Lightbox customers love being in control of their TV viewing, and we aim to keep giving them more and more options,” she says.
As such, Lightbox will also be coming to a selection of Samsung Android devices before the end of November. And, to celebrate the partnership, all those who purchase a Samsung Smart TV before 31 January 2015 will get a bonus 90-day subscription to Lightbox.
Earlier this year, Lightbox lost out to Quickflix in securing the rights to stream Kiwi favourites Outrageous Fortune and Go Girls, but it has landed some big shows and it recently added a host of local content, including Nothing Trivial and The Jacquie Brown Diaries.
In a story from October 15, a Lightbox spokesperson said: “Since launch in late August, we’ve already streamed 27.5 years (or more than 10,000 days) of content to Kiwis. Our free 30-day trial is also working well for us and has attracted a great number of customers, clearly showing we are delivering on a pent up demand for fantastic TV, online, anytime.”
Lightbox didn' t give per-show streaming numbers, but the company did provide the following top ten list of its most popular shows:
3. Breaking Bad
5. Orange is the new black
6. Modern Family
7. House of Cards
8. Lost Girl
10. Downton Abbey
“Exclusive-to-Lightbox TV shows such as Outlander, Vikings and Suits have consistently been in the top five viewed shows. Perennial favourites Breaking Bad, Modern Family, 24 and Downtown Abbey are also proving popular,” says the spokesperson.
Unsurprisingly, Lightbox also tracks customer viewing preferences in order to identify which shows it should be looking to promote and secure. However, the data collected by the SVOD service could also offer some utility to Spark, in the sense that the telco could use this to gather information about consumers who aren’t necessarily in its subscriber base (its data business Qrious is no doubt also interested).
Lightbox was asked whether it shared its customer information with Spark, but the spokesperson was cagey, saying: “Lightbox operates as an independent business. We have been very open about content our subscribers are viewing and will continue working with Spark to provide a great deal for their entertainment-loving broadband customers.”
To launch Lightbox, it ran some colourful ads across TV, radio, digital and cinema and created some commercial art with the help of Fly. Unlike Quickflix's ads from a few years back or Sky's 'Come with Us' manifesto, there's no real creative idea behind the campaign. It's more of an explanation aimed at raising awareness of the new "all you can eat" online TV offer and showing off some of the "insanely good TV" it has secured.
Lightbox has also created a number of online videos explaining how to use the service.