Sunday, 01 July 2007

Is Netflix behind SA online DVD initiative?

Some years ago on a trip to the USA I was struck by the ready availability of a service known as Netflix which allowed you to rent a DVD or two, use them for as long as you like and then pop your viewed titles into a prepaid envelope returning them to Netflix so that you could order your next title. I remember wondering when such as service would surface in South Africa and how such a service would work given certain logistical issues such as the availability of broadband internet and the uncertain delivery times of the South African Post Office!

It was therefore with delight, that I heard from my good friend Eish! of that such a service was now available in our country and had been since October 2006. It is known as PushPlay and is, by all accounts, working well. Unfortunately it is only available in Cape Town at present so I am going to have to wait before I can give it a try. I value the fact that Eish! has in fact tried the service and has given it a thumbs-up.

I question why their marketing has not been more visible? Is it because they are trying to establish credibility first? Is it a desire to use word-of-mouth advertising as their primary source for new clients? Until Eish! told me about this service I had seen no marketing material either on- or offline. Being first off the blocks is one thing but maintaining that position while competitors begin to establish themselves is another thing altogether.

I also wonder whether there is a link between PushPlay and Netflix - take a look at these graphics from each company :

Both companies have a "How It Works" page - take a look at how similar they are :
PushPlay / Netflix
This certainly does not look like pure coincidence to me! There are clear similarities between the two companies and while imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I wonder if Netflix is not behind the PushPlay initiative. This post is being sent to the folks at PushPlay and they have right of reply. Their response will be posted to this blog.

Despite these questions, I believe that the time has come for this service in South Africa. I cannot wait for availability in Johannesburg! I wish PushPlay well in their future endeavours.

Read Eish's post on PushPlay here - Online DVD deal launched in SA - 1 Year Ago!!

(Update - PushPlay replied the very next day - see their reply here)


Uno said...

I somehow doubt it... the service has little resemblance to Netflix and the recommendation engine is still a bit crappy.
I love their service (fast and efficient), but I don't get round to watching the DVD's that much!

Debora Wynne said...

Hi Arthur
Thank you for featuring PushPlay on your blog. We love the exposure and it's great that more folk get to hear about us as we are planning to roll out nationwide very shortly. With regards to our marketing campaign (or lack thereof):- We have been focusing on our distribution systems, working closely with the post office to development a system exclusively for PushPlay which will ensure the fast delivery and return of DVDs nationwide. I'm sure you can appreciate the amount of work and the time that is involved in this task at a national level, but we are now confident that we are ready to roll-out nationwide. Even without much advertising we have had great response from word of mouth marketing. With regards to being linked to Netflix:- no we are not. The concept of online DVD rental is one which most South Africans have not yet heard of, which means we are currently in the education stage of the business. On top of this, it can be a confusing concept to explain. We recently added the How it Works page to try and explain to new subscribers what they can expect from the service and what the benefits of the service will be to them. The diagram has been used on our homepage since July last year and Netflix only recently added their diagram to the How it Works page. Who's flattering whom we could ask? We might have taken some guidelines from their How it Works page layout, but it works and it's simple and we like it. If you find us terribly unoriginal we apologise, we are partly guilty. We'll be in Joburg very soon, and so will let you know. Thanks again.