Stuff Fibre says it is to offer Stuff Pix, a movie streaming service, from early next year. It takes the company in a new direction, one that hasn’t been tried before in New Zealand.
While getting into content is a natural move for an ISP part-owned by Fairfax, the largest regional media company, Stuff Pix has little to do with its parent’s traditional news business.
Instead, Stuff Pix opens with a catalogue of around 600 movies. Customers can watch them online for between $1 and $7 each.
Paddy Buckley who previously headed Quickflix in New Zealand will run Stuff Pix as general manager.
Stuff Pix not taking on Netflix
Buckley says the operation is a replacement for closed video stores, not a Netflix competitor. It will be open to all internet users and its main attraction will be the price. There is no subscription fee. Customers pay a one-off fee to view each movie.
He says the prices will be the lowest on the market. While it is technically possible to buy movies for less by parallel importing, customers need to set up a VPN (virtual private network).
Different, not differentiator
Although part-owned by a large corporation, Stuff Fibre is a broadband minnow and has yet to make an impact on the market. Until now it has offered rock-bottom prices and little else.
Adding Stuff Pix to the business is a bold attempt to build something other than a low-margin, race-to-the-bottom owner of a dumb pipe.
As you might expect from a minnow, Stuff Pix is a modest entry into the streaming market which is dominated around the world by Netflix.
The list of 600 movies is not large. Most old-school video stores had far more extensive catalogues. The movies on offer are not-exclusive. Stuff Pix will sell to people who are not Stuff Fibre customers.
In other words, with the way the businesses and offers are structured at present, no-one is going to buy Stuff Fibre to get at Stuff Pix. On that basis, it isn’t a differentiator. But it is an extra line of revenue and that’s important.
Buckley says Stuff Pix prices will be the lowest on the market. This means it will run on slender margins. The broadband service business is all about relatively small margins: the steady drip of subscription fees rolling in month after month that can still be a money-making recipe.
Revenue per user
Normally when ISPs add media, the idea is to bolster the margins and to raise the average revenue earned per user. That could work at Stuff Fibre, there will be opportunities to cross-sell moves to existing customers.
New Zealand’s two largest ISPs, Vodafone and Spark, have their own media offering. Vodafone resells Sky TV content through its Vodafone TV service. It isn’t cheap. Yet has an extensive catalogue of material and exclusive rights to popular sporting codes so there is a lot of value in the bundle.
Vodafone TV has the potential to more than double the revenue the company gets from each customer. It should do even better when it comes to lifting the per customer profit.
Meanwhile, Spark’s Lightbox streaming service seems a defensive play although it is a clear differentiator. Spark customers get Lightbox as part of broadband or mobile accounts. It’s a way of adding value and justifying higher prices. Spark’s basic unlimited fibre plan costs $95 a month compared to Stuff Fibre’s basic $90 a month.