Quickflix goes 'mainstream' on Freeview

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER
Last updated 14:27 04/12/2012
The Amazing Spider-Man

TANGLED WEB: Quickflix offers new movies on-demand, such as The Amazing Spider-Man.

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FreeviewHD viewers who connect their set-top boxes or televisions to broadband will be able to access Quickflix' internet pay-television service via their on-screen electronic programming guides next year, Freeview says.

Chief executive Sam Irvine said Freeview was talking to two other internet television providers and he hoped the deal with Australia's Quickflix would be the first of many such arrangements.

Free-to-air channels are broadcast to FreeviewHD-equipped televisions and set-top boxes by digital terrestrial radio from a network of radio towers.

Quickflix will instead be streamed to FreeviewHD devices over the internet through their Ethernet port, meaning they will need to be hooked up to broadband.

However, the ability to integrate the service into FreeviewHD's EPG means that, once connected, Quickflix should appear as just another channel to viewers. That would make it much more convenient for viewers to watch, Irvine said.

Irvine said there should be a total of 500,000 televisions and set-top boxes able to receive the service once it launches next year. He had no estimate on how many of those were already con范nected to broadband. Until now there had been "not a lot to connect for", he said.

Quickflix, which entered the New Zealand market in March, offers an "all-you-can-eat" subscription internet television service costing $14.99 a month that provides movies and other entertainment but no sports content, along with the ability to buy newer-release movies on demand.

Trading in Quickflix resumed on the ASX on Friday following a two-week suspension and its shares then halved, valuing the company at A$12.2 million.

The trading halt was prompted by negotiations over the future funding of the company and coincided with the resignation of chief executive Chris Taylor.

Irvine said the two additional unnamed parties with which Freeview was having discussions did not include United States internet television leader Netflix.

The Commerce Commission said in May that it had identified two companies that might join Quickflix in competing with Sky Television by providing television services online at a cost of about $10 a month, and another that planned to sell movies online.

InternetNZ, which has previously expressed concern about the health of broadcasting competition, today published a paper calling for views on the future of broadcasting regulation.

The non-profit society, which is largely funded by a mandatory levy on ".nz" internet addresses, said one of the options on which it wanted comment was a completely new "Communications Act" that would combine telecommunications and new broadcasting regulations.

"Given the importance of the Government's investment in ultrafast broadband there appears to be material risks created by the status quo," it said. Sky Television spokeswoman Kirsty Way said it had not yet had time to properly consider InternetNZ's report.

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- The Dominion Post

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