Sunday, May 22, 2016


So it is predicted, so it shall be.

Unfortunately, I was right on this one. In my '2016 Year In Review', I divined that Quickflix would be the first major casualty of Netflix's Australian arrival, coupled with the launch of new, local video streaming options. Specifically, I wrote:

'There are too many mouths at the trough, with not enough audience to go around. Unfortunately, after heavy losses throughout 2015, I don't think Quickflix will survive 2016. They were one of the earliest in the streaming space in Australia, but sometimes being first mover can actually work against you, particularly in a small market.'

In the last month, rather quietly, a news story broke that Quickflix is in administration.

Oh well, another company spins the wheel and tastes the bitter wine of failure, you say. And you would be right, of course.

Except...I can't help but pause for a moment, before starting to shovel dirt on this coffin.

In the kinetic, somewhat surreal, universe of global film and TV distribution, it can almost appear like there are no humans involved. The pundits scream the names of brands and oligopolies, while the faceless men and women behind the velvet curtain simply pull the oars and keep the machinery in full, violent roar.

"Warner Brothers. Universal. Stan. Foxtel. Disney. Netflix."

But Quickflix was not an opaque titan. The company started in Perth in 2003, by a group of entrepreneurs including current CEO Stephen Langsford. And, while the startup certainly wasn't a family-run operation, it is publicly known that Langsford invested a sizeable amount of his own money into his movie distribution venture.

In 2012, the gamble looked like genius.

Quickflix was valued at roughly $70 million. The business had strong content deals. DVD postal rentals were doing well, and Langsford was ready to guide the business into online subscription streaming.

Yes, Quickflix would be the first mover on online subscription streaming in the Australian market. The opportunities for success loomed large.

But lo, how colossal the fall from the peaks of prosperity.

By early 2015, Quickflix was worth $2.7 million.

The streaming business was a shambolic mess of technical glitches and bizarre pricing structures.

Even worse, Netflix arrived. Stan and Presto too, like the three horseman of the Quickflix apocalypse.

And now, it's over.

Quickflix was not the first company to fail after being ahead of it's time, mind you. Before the iPod came to dominate the collective eardrums of the world, there was the RIO MP3 player. Commercially successful long before Steve Jobs took over our cochleas, the RIO should have conquered the music world.

Instead, the manufacturer of RIO went bankrupt in 2003.

But how? What did the iPod have that RIO did not?

Answer: the iTunes store.

What does Netflix/Stan have that Quickflix didn't?

Answer: user interfaces that worked, with a 'simple to understand' subscription model.

This is the immortal truth, friends. Ideas are magic. Intention is wonderful. Enthusiasm, essential.

But it's all for nothing if you don't execute flawlessly.

Survival of the fittest reigns in the screen industry, and all players must prove their mettle.

It's a harsh world, no exceptions.

I won't celebrate being proven right on my Quickflix prediction. Instead, I'll reflect on the reminder of how perilous it is for all of us in the arts.

'...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.'

Farewell, Quickflix. I sincerely hope the landing is soft.

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