Saying goodbye to Presto: How Australia’s streaming landscape became so complicated

Seven West Media’s sale of streaming platform Presto to Foxtel this week has killed off another Australian video content platform, as brands continue to jostle for the position of market leader.

Foxtel said yesterday that users of the Presto platform will be invited to transition into a revamped “Foxtel Play” product when it discontinues the service in January of 2017.

Meanwhile, Quickflix, the company that provided a local equivalent to Netflix by providing a DVD rental and later a streaming service in Australia, has emerged from administration. US company Karma Media Holdings has bought the platform, which will continue to deliver services to customers.

So how did the Australian market get to be so crowded, and are mergers and exits inevitable?

Managing director at Telyste Foad Fadaghi says that services with a specific niche have an advantage in the landscape.

“Our belief is that the market will continue to support multiple services, especially specialist marketing,” he told SmartCompany.

“Things like sporting codes – and there’s also likelihood that individual studios that produce enough content will look at this.”

However, the streaming world is challenging and the Presto example could be evidence of the need for platform owners to focus entirely on one or product.

“I think the market is likely to be fragmented for some time. The challenge with Presto was that it was a bit of a half-hearted attempt,” says Fadaghi.

The landscape has changed significantly over the past few months, but Australian video companies have been around the last 13 years. Here’s a quick timeline:

2003 – Quickflix launches in Australia

The business begins in Australia as a DVD delivery service, similar to the Netflix model of DVD delivery.

2008 – ABC iview launches

The national broadcaster starts putting content online in an on-demand portal, which has grown substantially in scope since, including a live stream of the 24 hour news channel.

Fadaghi says that even today commercial platforms will continue to experience pressure from the offerings of the national broadcasters.

2011 – Quickflix starts video streaming

The platform listed on the Australian Securities Exchange in 2005, and announced a streaming service for around $15 a month from a pre-set library.

2011 – EzyFlix launches

Online DVD retailer EzyDVD starts its own service.

August 2013 – Foxtel Play launches

Internet subscription packages are offered by Foxtel for a number of its shows and channels.

March 2014 – Presto launches

The video streaming service was launched and originally owned by Foxtel before Seven West Media and Foxtel launched ‘Presto Entertainment’ as a joint venture in December 2014.

January 2015 – Stan launches

Nine entertainment and Fairfax Media get in on the action ahead of the arrival of Netflix with an Australia Day launch of Stan’s streaming bundles.

March 2015 – Netflix Australia launches

Netflix Australia brings a localised – and critics say limited – library to an Australian audience, with three screen packages starting at $9.95 per month.

September 2015 – EzyFlix closes

Movie streaming provider EzyFlix closes. Its chief executive expressed anxiety to SmartCompany in 2014 over Netflix’s entry into Australia, while analysts observe there will be finite room for players in the Australian market.

2016 – Telcos hone in on services

Phone providers including Telstra and Optus start ramp up promotional activities with streaming services, integrating them into products like Telstra TV and offering customers free trials as an add on to phone bundles.

April 2016 – Quickflix enters administration

Administrators are appointed as the company struggles to raise capital, and call for interested parties for the purchase of the customer database in May 2016.

August 2016 – Suggestions of Seven West Media exiting Presto

Significant pressure from Stan sees suggestions that Seven will sell out of its Presto stake. The sale is confirmed in October.

October 2016 – Karma buys Quickflix

Karma Media Holdings pays Quickflix $1.3 million for the subscription service. This means the operation will continue to trade and 24 staff will stay employed at the business.

October 2016 – Foxtel announces new “Foxtel Play” package

Foxtel announces new streaming packages starting at $10 a month, which will include content across a variety of the subscription TV service’s channels.

Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh also announces more HBO content after the success of the most recent Game of Thrones season being available to subscribers via the streaming service.

All Presto users will be offered Foxtel Play packages after the service is closed in 2017.

This article was first published on SmartCompany.

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