Quickflix boss coy on Nine’s new strategic stake but confident there is no ‘content stitch up’

LangsfordFounder and CEO of online streaming company Quickflix Stephen Langsford says it is not for him to comment on US content giant HBO’s decision to sell out of the company, with its eight per cent stake being picked up by new entrant into the streaming space Nine Entertainment Co.

The surprise purchase was revealed yesterday, with the $1m purchase by Nine quickly helping raise the long languishing Quickflix share price 40 per cent, to 1.4 cents.

“It’s not for me to be drawn on what Nine’s intentions or plans are,” Langsford told Mumbrella, this morning. “Quickflix is focused on the business we are operating in this space.

“We have our work cut out for us and are focused on growing our business and getting on more platforms to increase our audience.”

The investment in Quickflix comes at an interesting time with Nine preparing to launch its own streaming service Streamco.

The TV Network declined to comment today but it is believed Nine’s strategic investment comes as it looks to build its own SVOD business by investing into a company with an existing customer base, technology and platform.

“This is a small yet good investment in Quickflix,” said one Nine source. “As a network we are strong believer in streaming video on demand (SVOD) and believe the industry will do well in Australia.”

Langsford this morning was keen to downplay the move but noted it was a high growth space that many TV networks were taking an increasing interest in.

“I think it is indicative of what is a fast moving landscape,” said Langsford. “We are a high growth sector, we have seen streaming on the up and up and we know that a number of media players, including broadcast media players, have a desire to be involved in the sector.

“Broadcast media players are increasingly having to confront the growing adoption of over the top streaming, there is a huge opportunity there. I guess it’s a consequence of all that.”

HBO had been an investor in Quickflix since 2012 when the DVD rental and streaming company faced a major cashflow crisis and was forced to seek an emergency cash injection. 

“We have a great relationship and support from HBO and their investment helped us transform from being the leading DVD rental company to being a streaming company and we are very pleased that we maintain our commercial relationship,” Langsford said.

“We still have a content deal with them and that will continue. HBO has some wonderful content and we see a lot of demand for their content through our service – that is very pleasing.”

HBO’s decision to sell out of Quickflix in Australia comes as many local players begin to speculate about the domestic ramifications of the proposed merger between 21st Century Fox and Time Warner.

Quickflix has and will retain its content deal with HBO, however Fox’s sister company News Corp owns Foxtel in Australia, which has drawn criticism for limiting access to certain popular programming such Game of Thrones under a wide-ranging content deal with HBO.

Langsford said he was not concerned about the impact the potential merger could have on the content available to local players such as Quickflix.

“I think (the proposed merger) is demonstrative of the importance of content and the quality of content,” said Langsford. “This is putting a focus on the value of content. I have no concerns whatsoever, we are working in a developed market, in a competitive market in which there is an enormous amount of content and content providers.

“I don’t believe in this notion that content is being stitched up.”

Langsford has previously welcomed the increasingly competitive streaming landscape, which has seen a number of new entrants in the last year, with US online video giant Netflix also expected to enter the market next year.

Last week Mumbrella published an analysis that found, prior to its formal entry into Australia, Netflix already has 27 per cent of Australians currently using online media subscription or rental services, which is up from 10 per cent in January 2013. Most of the the growth came at the expense of Quickflix rather than the local dominant player Foxtel, according to the research from Pocketbook.

Nic Christensen 


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