01.Viewers to get more virtual movies
Australian movie lovers should soon have two new streaming services to choose from when looking for entertainment online.
Dendy Direct is set to be launched this month and is a video on demand (VOD) service for watching movies and TV shows online. The cinema chain announced the new service last year and flagged it would be up and running in April, bringing arthouse and independent movies online.
Hoyts Stream is expected to be launched this year, although it’s later than originally scheduled because it’s been working through licensing deal with rights holders and getting the right online delivery platform.
These new services confirm that popular US streaming service Netflix would find a welcome place in Australian lounge rooms should it launch a local service. Netflix recently announced that monthly plans could increase by one or two dollars for new members, and comes at the same time as the company announced a US$53 million profit for the first quarter. Netflix claims to have 50 million global members, while rival network HBO has 130 million.
Locally, movie revenue was down 2.3% last year, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia. Dendy Direct and Hoyts Stream should meet the growing demand from viewers who are shunning the cinema and looking for more platforms for watching movies and TV shows online legally in Australia.
Streaming services need to give Australian viewers affordable content in a flexible way and in turn help combat piracy. Australians are said to be among the most prolific downloaders of copyright material.
Palace Cinemas and Village Roadshow executives recently claimed piracy is one of the reasons cinema ticket prices are nearly $20 in Australia.
Village Roadshow chief Graham Burke also took aim at Google for lobbying against proposed new piracy laws. The search giant has stated it’s against new piracy measures that are not likely to have any effect. It says piracy is a pricing and availability problem. Village has in the past tried to prosecute against piracy and was part of a group that took legal action against internet provider iiNet over copyright infringement.