The newest competition in SVOD is around the corner, that’s all for Australia.
When the ever-growing feast of digital consumption finally burst its bloated stomach in 2015 with U.S. company Netflix arriving on Australian shores, multimedia businesses knew they had a fight on their hands.
With Channel 9 & Fairfax’s co-owned Stan already a direct competitive, and Channel 7 & Foxtel’s poor cousin Presto making a blip on the radar (not to forget Quickflix being well-established but fading away quickly) a development of some decent variety of entertainment avenues for the average household had evolved. It’s all good and well to have a digital library of local and international content to cater for the young and old, but unless the content was created by the actual streaming service itself, the shelf life is minimal.
But one thing has been neglected – where is the support for the Australian film industry?
Other than the latest Australian blockbusters or golden classics that you can quote off the back of your hand or put ‘straight to the pool room’, I’m talking the films that are under the layers of dust and on VHS in the garage.
The out-of-print copy for $50 at your second hand exchange store.
The $2 copy at the local op-shop.
The $1 worn-out weekly hire at the back of the video store that’s closing down.
The film that didn’t quite transition from Betamax to DVD.
That’s where the people at Ozflix (Ozflix.tv) are trying to fill that gap.
For the last couple of years, the team at Ozflix have been working hard to create Australia’s largest SVOD library of Aussie fillums for everyone to enjoy. Partnering with distribution companies such as Madman Entertainment, Village Roadshow, Titan View and many others plus more to come, the opportunities are endless with the libraries they could get their hands onto. The goal is to have “Every. Aussie. Movie. Ever.” available.
With much patience, following their updates on social media for the last 2 years, I was one of many customers-in-waiting to receive an invite recently for the Beta testing. After a quick 30 second sign-up, I was in.
Please note: the access to Ozflix is purely in Beta mode so everything is in testing grounds in regards to content, display, and cost. So I had to keep that in mind upon first glance. With a clean and simple interface that echoes the current SVOD players, the system is pretty simple to navigate and quickly loads. My access is using ADSL2+ with up to 8MB download speed.
Straight up the top is the list of blockbuster films. Unsure of the cost of this system yet, I hovered over the Mad Max: Fury Road to see a cost of $3.79 to rent. Not a bad price, since other digital stores such as iTunes tend to charge on average $3.99, or your local DVD kiosk $3.50. When you rent from Ozflix, you have 14 days to decide when to watch the film, and 48 hours to actually watch the chosen film when activated. A decent percentage of the sale goes towards the rights owners too, so at least you know some coin goes in their pockets.
As I scrolled further along to the New Stuff category, there was a price difference. This is understandable as these are classified as new releases, like a system you would’ve had at your local video store. Plus I noticed some films do not contain a “Trailer” option. In this case with the film Black Water, I clicked on it and an internal window appeared and played the trailer.
The Ozflix library showed more variety of films as I searched further into this new Australian content delivery hub. All the classics – old, new, and obscure – appeared. It shows promise. Other themes are Comedy, Romance, Cult, Kids, Indie, Horror / Thriller, Drama, and Classics.
Other areas of the site show that they really love their films. There’s a Free Content section where it appears Ozflix will put future interviews and reviews, and a section called @The Flix, where it appears to be a movie theme bundle pack which may update on a weekly basis. Reviewers Rochelle Siemienowicz & Thomas Caldwell discuss in a 16 minute video why each film was selected and detailed information on said films. It’s a pretty convincing way of selling the sizzle.
For the purpose of this article, I decided to purchase the 1971 drama Wake In Fright. I have not been paid for this review, nor have I asked, so I now have one less coffee to drink this week. So a quick transaction with the credit card (receipt e-mailed) and away I go.
Now it appears that there are various resolutions to the video stream, from a low bandwith (100MB) to high definition being a stream size close to what you’d get on a DVD (4.6GB) I usually use Google Chrome as my web browser, but for this test, I’m using Mozilla Firefox on Windows 10 PC. At the moment, they are working on Apps for iOS and Android, and it currently does not stream using Chromecast.
In full screen mode, the quality is exceptional. There was no pixelation or artifacts, and for a film that was digitally restored in 2009, Wake In Fright has held up well. Ozflix‘s streaming shows up great. The sound quality is superb, but with everything – it comes down to what the suppliers hand over to Ozflix to stream.
If anything, Ozflix looks extremely promising if the content they are promoting to supply does hold up to the expectations. There is the odd flaw: newcomers may be under the impression that it might be a service of a monthly fee for ‘all you can eat’ model. However, at the time of this Beta testing, it’s showing an online movie rental store that supplies only Australian films. I think I read somewhere through one of Ozflix‘s early social media posts that there might be a “buy to own” through their stream system that might sit along side with the rentals, but for the life of me, I can’t find the information anymore. However, I found this line in the Terms & Conditions:
Buying Platform Content
Purchased Content will be available for you to view immediately from payment of the purchase fee, and will be available for viewing for an indefinite time period while the Platform is available, or for as long as you hold a Member Account.
Overall, Ozflix could go far with this. It’s quite niche, but once it is out of Beta mode and officially launches in 2017, I am sure it will cater very well to the Aussie film-goer, or any overseas Oz-ploitation film-buff. It’s not a Netflix killer, but it definitely is another channel for great Australian content that doesn’t get enough love nor attention it rightfully needs.
They are also looking for people who own rights to films to contact them for any expressions of streaming interest.
For more information on Ozflix, check out:
Disclaimer: Ozflix have not approached me nor contributed to this review.