Australian video-on-demand service Quickflix will offer episodes of the currently-airing third season of Game of Thrones for online streaming hours after they are broadcast in the US, after a deal with the show's creator HBO.
The deal means that alongside staunch competitors iTunes and Foxtel, Quickflix will be able to host Game of Thrones on its streaming video service within a few hours of the show's original broadcast on the US HBO cable TV channel.
The show's episodes, and a season pass, will be made available through a 'sell-through' arrangement -- rather than being part of the regular Quickflix TV and movie line-up, which can be accessed by any user with a $15 monthly subscription, they will be available for a separate fee.
Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford said that the deal was an important step in the company's business plans: "This is a big move for us, because we're bringing current and recent seasons TV to Quickflix, to consumers' devices of choice."
The deal means anyone in Australia -- not only existing Quickflix subscribers, or users who have access to iTunes, or who have a Foxtel cable or streaming subscription -- will be able to purchase and stream episodes of Game of Thrones on a wider range of devices.
The show is available on Apple's iTunes video store for streaming and download of individual episodes or entire series, and is available via subscription to Foxtel's cable TV service or Internet streaming TV packages including Foxtel Play.
Langsford was upbeat about Quickflix's deal, downplaying the possibility of Foxtel blocking the company's future access to HBO content as reported by the Australian Financial Review. He told PC World that Quickflix would "obviously respect HBO's arrangements with Foxtel and competitors in the market. We'll have access as soon as iTunes.
"Some series will feature on Foxtel first, but given over 70 per cent of Australians don't subscribe to Foxtel, being [able] soon after to make it available to your device of choice, we believe, is a big step forward."
HBO has a $10million stake in Quickflix, owning a 16 per cent share of the company. Another $5million loan came in at the end of 2012 from US media entrepreneur Alki David, who controls US video-on-demand service FilmOn.TV.
The Quickflix-HBO deal is not just limited to Game of Thrones, either: according to Langsford, all HBO shows will be available to Quickflix for sell-through, "including True Blood, Newsroom, [and] Boardwalk Empire."
The company has other streaming content deals in the works with a number of US and UK TV and movie distributors.
Langsford also commented on the current and future status of Australia's national broadband infrastructure, crucial to the company's aspirations of delivering streaming video ubiquitously:
"It's very good, and that's both fixed broadband and wireless. It will only get better too -- if NBN rolls out, then one day Quickflix will be streaming 3D movies.
"I spend a fair amount of time in the US. Australia's broadband infrastructure actually holds up very well. The average connection speed of Australian broadband customers is 4.5Mbps, which is more than sufficient to enjoy Quickflix's adaptive streaming of SD and HD movies and TV. Previously [US streaming giant] Netflix has cited its average customer speed was 1.5Mbps.
"70 per cent of Australians (in our major cities) can enjoy this access. Rural and regional Australia, where 30 per cent of the population reside has slower connection speeds -- the NBN (or variation thereof!) promises high speed connection for this group, and will only improve connection speeds in the city."
He also told PC World that one central aspect preventing uptake of video-on-demand and streaming IPTV services -- limited download quotas #8212; was largely a thing of the past:
"What has held Australia back in the past has been onerous data caps. But these have lifted over the past two years, so now I can get 200 gigabytes, or in some cases unlimited access, for [around] $50 per month.
"Un-metering access is no longer an issue by and large because data caps have lifted considerably across the board. Someone on a 200gb plan can watch a lot of streamed movies and TV, and everything else they use their internet for."