Better Call Saul sparks price war with downloading service undercutting Stan

bettercallsaulVideo downloading service has slashed the price of downloading the full season Breaking Bad spin off Better Call Saul challenging subscription service Stan.

The premiere of Better Call Saul had strong ratings in the US yesterday with 6.9 million tuning in to watch the AMC program’s cable debut. In Australia it is available to stream on Stan, a $100m joint streaming venture between Channel Nine and Fairfax, on the same day it airs in the US, with access to the service costing $10 a month. Running one-per-week it would require a three-month subscription to the service to watch the ten episode series in real time. is offering a season pass to the ten episode series for $10, although the episodes do not become available until 24 hours after US broadcast. The show is also available on iTunes for $30.99 for the series and for $24.99 on Google Play as a download.

Craig White, CEO of Access Digital Entertainment, the company behind, denied the promotion put his company’s pay-per-view offer in competition with streaming services like Stan.

“What most substantially differentiates pay per view services and subscription on demand services is speed and access to newly released content; we’re able to offer a film on a pay-per-view basis which then allows you to download it and have offline playback, so pay-per-view services are quite different from subscription,” he told Mumbrella.

“In many respects they are highly complimentary, so I don’t see us as going up against streaming providers.”

However, White conceded viewers were being targeted by both services and would end up making a choice about which method of viewing they preferred.

“It’s topical that we released Better Call Saul today, and in that respect two services are offering the same content, but it’s not just the two either – you can also choose pay per view services form iTunes and Google Play, and so yes consumers will choose between one of the providers.”

A spokeswoman for Stan said the uptake of the service had been strong, but declined to give specific figures.

“Stan has seen a phenomenal response from consumers since launch, with subscriptions far exceeding expectations,” the spokeswoman said. “The anticipation of seeing Better Call Saul first on Stan, fast-tracked from the US has contributed significantly to this response.”

White pointed out that people were not just always locked into one model of consuming digital content and that he believed many would choose to use both pay per view and subscription services together.

“In a lot of instances (people will go for both),” he said. “I too will be subscribing to subscription services and enjoying content in that way at the same time; I don’t know which of the two I will select and maybe I will switch in and out (between pay per view and subscription) because just one is not going to satisfy all of my entertainment needs.”

The show’s predecessor Breaking Bad was consistently one of the most illegally downloaded shows in its last few seasons, with Australian’s topping the list for its final episode with more than 500,000 copies downloaded in late 2013.

According to the founder and editor of website Torrent Freak, Ernesto, the first episode of Better Call Saul had been downloaded over 250,000 times by early this morning.

White said he felt behaviours around illegal downloading were changing as availability and pricing, the two sore points cited by many downloaders, were becoming less and less of an issue and used the music industry to illustrate his point.

“If we use the analogy that I don’t know anybody who illegally downloads music anymore; and yet it was a different proposition 15 years ago,” he said.

“Then iTunes created a convenient, accessible legal solution which is a better experience than sitting on your PC and trying to jump on one of those sites.”

“What we are now seeing, and particularly for Better Call Saul, is that there are more legitimate services that you can access it from; will some people continue to indulge in piracy, well no doubt, but I think piracy is driven by demand for the content and availability on legitimate services and access to those titles.

“So when you have a show like Breaking Bad that’s not as accessible as those services on, for example, free to air TV and digital services then that creates a window for pirates.”

Robert Burton-Bradley


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