The entry of Google’s Chromecast is expected to add fresh impetus to the local video-streaming market but one unassuming company has managed to beat the likes of Foxtel, ABC and Quickflix to the punch when it comes to latching on to the Chromecast’s full potential.
Launched in 2013, the video-on-demand service EzyFlix.tv is the first Australian outfit to support the Chromecast and despite being a relative newcomer to the space compared to Quickflix, the company says it has the right technical ingredients to take advantage of the benefits Google’s streaming stick provides.
The move is another feather in the cap of Access Digital Entertainment, which has navigated the course from online DVD sales company EzyDVD into digital streaming, and is hoping that its first-mover advantage gives it an edge as the market evolves.
With substantial market appetite in place, success or failure does come down to the availability of content and Craig White, chief executive and co-founder of Access Digital Entertainment, says Ezyflix.tv has the content to keep consumers glued to their screens.
Combining that content with the easy access that the Chromecast provides and the device-agnostic nature of the EzyFlix service could be the key for White and his team.
The Chromecast’s pricing is a big part of its appeal, White says.
“It’s priced very competitively in Australia relative to other streaming devices and more so compared to traditional PVR set-top boxes, which is highly encouraging,” he says.
“It’s the perfect confluence of big-screen viewing in the living room and video-on-demand via the internet.”
Both of these behaviours are already well entrenched in the market and while EzyFlix.tv is first cab off the rank, it won’t take long before others catch up.
With regards to what Chromecast means for the Pay TV and Free-to-Air networks, Google's little gadget could well turn out to be a 'frenemy' of the incumbent players.
“Once compatible, Chromecast will better serve these advertising-supported ‘catch-up services’ for FTA networks and at the same time help ensure that linear programming decisions are optimised given the tradition of channel-surfing and increased second screen choices,” White says.
He adds that Chromecast makes this choice "the primary" one on the big screen.
“Content just got a whole lot broader, more competitive and above all, because of Chromecast, a lot more convenient for viewers.”
EzyFlix.tv currently offers more than 1500 titles on Chromecast and that number is tipped to go up.
With a total library of close to 4000 titles -- available in standard and high-definition to rent or buy -- the next step for Ezyflix will be to make its entire collection Chromecast-compatible over time.
The looming shadow of Netflix is never far from the sector, with rumours of an Australian launch a consistent hot-button issue, but White isn’t too concerned if and when that scenario plays out.
According to White, Netflix’s all-you-can-eat subscription video-on-demand model doesn’t pose the same threat to EzyFlix.tv as it does to other operators, especially free-to-air networks.
For EzyFlix.tv it’s a simple issue of focus and White is keen to point out that the one thing Netflix doesn’t offer is latest releases.
“Subscription video-on-demand services are the equivalent of the traditional video store without a new release section. There would be walls and walls of old movies gathering dust and nothing new to watch.”
Outfits like EzyFlix.tv that inhabit the ‘download-to-own’ and ‘transactional video-on-demand’ market aren’t losing sleep over Netflix. What they do need is access, and ensuring that the experience at a consumer level is as high-definition as possible.
Chromecast certainly ticks the box when it comes to access and EzyFlix.tv at the very least has an opportunity to put some distance between it and its competitors.