Internet

Content is king in VOD game

Read time 4min 20sec
JustFlicks had over 1 000 hours of movies and series at launch, with the promise of a 100 new titles a month.
JustFlicks had over 1 000 hours of movies and series at launch, with the promise of a 100 new titles a month.

The crowded subscription video-on-demand (VOD) space in SA now has a new player, which offers unlimited viewing of budget movies for only R1 a day.

JustFlicks describes itself as an affordable and easy-to-access online streaming entertainment hub.

"You don't require a dish or a decoder and you can cancel your subscription anytime as there are no contracts," the company states on its FAQ page.

The small fee is payable via a subscription SMS service.

The company says it had more than 1 000 hours of movies and series at launch, with the promise of a 100 new titles a month.

The titles available on the service are mostly older 'straight-to-video' movies. ITWeb took a random sample of the movies on offer and looked up their scores on popular ratings site IMDb.

Movie name

Year

IMDb rating out of 10

Africa in Her Blood

2011

No rating

Autumn Rage

2010

No rating

After the Wizard

2011

2.7

Black Eagle

1988

3.7

Who Wants to Marry My Husband?

2002

4.4

Babysitter Massacre

2013

4.7

When Thugs Cry

2003

5.1

A Halfway House Christmas

2005

5.3

A Light in the Forest

2003

5.4

Fersein's Gate

2006

5.6

Stuck to Your Pillow

2012

5.6

American Jihadist

2010

5.7

Kate Skinner, independent broadcasting researcher and policy analyst, says the most important issue with any VOD player is good content.

"If the content is boring, low-quality or outdated, people probably won't be interested in signing up. Even if the cost is low, what is the point?" she asks.

"It is good to have new services but what we actually need is good quality content. That's key. Also, very importantly we need VOD services to invest in local content."

Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx MD, says: "The key is to come up with specific content that people would see as worthwhile to watch. 'Virgins Among the Zombies' may attract someone looking for a cheap thrill, but it's not going to build a following."

"They [JustFlicks] need to dig up titles that are unavailable on mainstream VOD, but would be regarded as classic, must-sees or even sleepers that would gain word of mouth popularity. That comes down to a combination of clever selection as well as clever marketing."

Brian Neilson, director at BMI-Techknowledge, says he was unaware of the new service.

"I reckon the big will get bigger ? for example ShowMax and Netflix ? and smaller players will fall by the wayside, unless the content is aimed at a specific niche audience, such as Bollywood," says Neilson.

Will it gain traction?

"One can see it as an additional option for consumers who don't want to commit themselves to a monthly package, and want a quick fix in terms of entertainment. However, it is unlikely to take business away from the bigger VOD players," says Goldstuck.

"The payment model looks interesting," says Neilson. "And appears to be aimed at the pay-as-you-go type of customer. I don't think payment will be the issue at R1 a day, but rather the relevance of the content, and whether it is strong enough to induce people to take the trouble to try it out. That comes back to the topic of specific niche content."

To stream content, JustFlicks recommends a minimum Internet connection of 1Mbps speed. It says picture quality will adjust according to available bandwidth on the viewing device.

Goldstuck says: "The average broadband speeds on offer and apparently available are now above 1Mbps, but the average experience tends to be below that. Fixed-line Internet users ? ADSL and fibre ? will be able to enjoy these speeds, but mobile broadband tends to be very spotty, while free WiFi tends to throttle the speeds down to well below that level."

In February, Google launched Google Play Movies in SA. The service allows viewers to rent or purchase movies to watch on their phones, tablets, computers and smart TVs.

Last year, Naspers launched streaming service ShowMax, and in January, international VOD service Netflix launched in 130 countries worldwide - including SA.

JustFlicks attempts to address a gap in the South African VOD market left by the recent shut down of Times Media Group-owned VIDI, which also offered a fee-per-day option.

SVOD costs in SA:

Service

Cost

Netflix

R126 per month

ShowMax

R99 per month

ONTAPtv

R39 to R89 per month

VU (previously known as MTN FrontRow)

R99 per month

Google Play Movies

R19.99 or more per movie view

JustFlicks

R1 per day

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