Quickflix adds Homescreen to challenge BigPond

Quickflix has swallowed its nearest competition, Homescreen, to cement its position as Australia's largest independent online DVD rental company. The acquisition positions the Perth-based company as the biggest challenger to Telstra's BigPond movie service.

"We are thrilled that number two and number three in the marketplace have been able to come together to create the leading independent online DVD rental company," said Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford.

Quickflix will receive 100 per cent of Homescreen's shares in exchange for $580,000 plus Quickflix shares. Homescreen's operational staff will be kept on board, but the founders will simply be shareholders in the merged entity, Langsford said.

The Homescreen buyout has extended Quickflix's distribution network, adding Adelaide to its list of Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. Quickflix will also take control of the Homescreen DVD library, expanding the company's database to more than 25,000 titles.

"The annex of Homescreen is a great milestone on our progress, and considering that 60 per cent of Australian households own DVD players and have Internet access, we're in a thriving market," Langsford said.

According to a recent report by research group, Screen Digest, "by the end of 2005 there will be more than 6.3 million online DVD rental subscribers in the US and Europe."

Langsford said that using the US market as a guide, Australia could expect around 300,000 subscribers.

However, the Australian market is currently estimated at only 25,000 subscribers. Quickflix shares only a small portion of that pie - 7000 subscribers - and nearly half that number has been added by the Homescreen acquisition.

Langsford was optimistic though, claiming the Australian market was still very young. He said that over the next 12 months the subscriber base would move from early adopters to mainstream consumers. The company plans to expand the service with retail offerings next year.

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