RIP Australia’s EzyFlix… but blaming Netflix for its demise is too easy

Australian digital movie and TV site EzyFlix has called it quits, the first casualty (and likely not the last) in the Down Under digital video marketplace.

Fingers immediately pointed at Netflix, the big, bad subscription video on demand service from the United States, as the cause of its demise. Maybe, but that’s a little too convenient… and easy.

EzyFlix Tuesday posted this message to consumers on its website:

“Thank you for having been a part of EzyFlix. Access Digital Entertainment has decided to end the service offered on this site. If you have rented or purchased any movies or TV shows, those movies are no longer available on EzyFlix.

“If you have purchased or redeemed and UltraViolet title through EzyFlix, these may be accessed through several other digital movie services. Please go here and log in with you Ultraviolet credentials for further information. https://www.myuv.com

“The EzyFlix Team”

What went wrong? There’s little doubt Netflix had a big hand in its demise; after all, the U.S.-based streamer, according to one Australian research firm, already has a million users in Australia and New Zealand.

But there’s plenty of other competition in the Australian market including Presto, Stan, Foxtel Play and Quickflix, and they’re all ramping up their offerings as the market quickly becomes (over)saturated.

QuickFlix, one of the market’s earliest entrants in the industry also is one of its most troubled.

Last month, the SVOD service reported that it continued to lose money – and customers — in the second quarter, following a similar report from the first quarter.

EzyFlix actually had more in common with Walmart’s Vudu video service or Apple iTunes than it did with Netflix. Rather than offering a buffet SVOD service, EzyFlix customers bought and rented individual catalog video titles for $2.99, or rented newer films for $5.99.

EzyFlix isn’t the first casualty in the digital media world, and even players with much deeper pockets have had a tough time surviving.

In the U.S., retailer Target launched its own digital movie service, Target Ticket, in September 2013. Less than 18 months later, it pulled up stakes and closed in February.

Despite a library of 30,000 titles, including new film releases and next-day TV shows, the “me, too” offering, a la Walmart’s VUDU, never scored a bull’s-eye with consumers.

SVOD service Redbox Instant – the ersatz Netflix conceived as a joint venture between Verizon and kiosk king Redbox – closed in October 2014, just more than a year old. The $6/mo. streaming business wasn’t “as successful as either partner hoped it would be,” Verizon said at the time.

It’s thin catalog – just 6,000 title – was in part to blame, but Redbox Instant

was also a victim of listless marketing that never seemed to lift it above the ground clutter.

There no doubt consumers are looking over the top and online for more of their video entertainment, and there’s plenty of opportunity for content owners and aggregators. But, be it direct-to-consumer, TV Everywhere, SVOD, TVOD, AVOD or (X)VOD, any video service has to be perceived as a value by consumers and have a sustainable business model, whatever form it takes. It also needs great marketing, an intuitive user interface, a differentiated catalog of content and tools – like search and discovery – that makes it a pleasure to use.

As for EzyFlix? RIP.

Next?

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn