Has Quickflix finally found its fix?

Finding Dory, Disney’s animated feature about a blue finned fish with short-term memory loss searching for her long lost parents, was not only a hit with audiences worldwide, but currently stands as the second highest grossing film in New Zealand this year (behind local fare Hunt for the Wilderpeople). Now, just six months since its release in cinemas, the screening of the fishy tale has been scooped up by Quickflix months before any other streaming service, heralding in the company’s newest approach to its online streaming business.

This week, Quickflix NZ announced the launch of two new services: Quickflix Access, which allows users to sign up for free and watch new release movies on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, and Quickflix Red Carpet, which offers all the benefits of Quickflix Access, plus pre-paid discount credits to watch several new release movies each month. The Red Carpet service also provides access to bonus movies and TV shows from the Quickflix subscription catalogue, as well as access to exclusive competitions offering trips to Hollywood red carpet events.

Signalling a pivot away from the traditional subscription-pay model that’s dominated the mainstream media in the last few years, the move is the latest attempt by Quickflix who, despite being the first online streaming service to enter the New Zealand market, has lagged behind subsequent major competitors Netflix, Lightbox, and Neon.

“There’s currently a saturation in the market in terms of subscription services, so we want to move away from the traditional model to a more premium, new release model,” says Paddy Buckley, general manager (and now director) at Quickflix NZ.

“It’s about finding a niche or gap in the market and filling it, and right now there’s a lack of blockbuster new release movies widely available online. With our pay-as-you-go model, we see ourselves as complementary to other streaming services that work on a subscription model,” he says.

The move is the company’s biggest since it was announced in October that US company Karma Media had purchased the beleaguered business for $1.3 million AUD. Prior to this, Quickflix had gone into voluntary administration.

Sam Aldred, director at Receptive TV, thinks the new strategy marks a “smart move” from Quickflix. “They’ve moved away from the business of competing as they simply don’t have the scale or cash flow to compete with these massive competitors. Instead, they’re looking to fill in a gap in the market by offering content of an à la carte basis,” he says.

No doubt factoring into it’s decision, the new strategy is also set to be a cheaper one. Unlike TV shows, the business of acquiring movies works slightly differently. While brand new TV series are licensed on an exclusive basis and are often highly expensive to acquire due to the greater number of streaming services joining the bidding war (Netflix routinely hemorrhage money on licensing fees, and spent $3.3 billion USD on content acquisition in 2015), films generally work on a non-exclusive model when it shifts to online streaming.

“Quickflix don’t have the capacity to buy TV rights over what other services can,” says Aldred. “They’re much better off in the non-exclusive business of a la carte movie streaming.”

He insists that the success of Quickflix will rely on two key points. The first being whether there’s enough scale in New Zealand to remain financially viable, and the second being whether they can broaden their reach of content.

“But in a sense, I think they’ve already turned things around because the business has been sold. This new strategy shows it’s going to be a different Quickflix from the Quickflix of the last few years.”

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