The Seven Network plans to launch a paid subscription service on its 7Plus online streaming app in 2018 as part of a rapid expansion of the platform announced during parent company Seven West Media’s half yearly financial results.
As part of an overview of the roadmap for the 7Plus streaming platform it has been revealed that following the introduction of sign-on for users (something SBS and Nine already require) the app will begin to offer up personal recommendations and soon a subscription service too.
Personalised recommendations can only be made if the app knows who you are and what you watch. This is the Netflix effect, knowing every moment of your viewing allows the service to better determine what you might want to watch next, offering that up as a recommendation and thus hopefully keeping you engaged with the content for much longer.
Over the coming months new content partners will be added with NBCUniversal, Disney and Discovery content coming to the service, along with Warner Brothers too.
Of most interest though is the move to adding a paid subscription layer. While existing catch-up content will remain free to view, it appears from the report published at the financial results that a paid subscription will give users access to exclusive pre-broadcast shows, offline downloads as well as HD content.
Rather than offering High Definition to all users – something that comes at a direct cost to the business (due to the higher bandwidth consumption), it appears 7Plus will make HD content available only to those paying for the subscription. The move may not be well received initially, but it’s the logical move and we would expect other networks to follow – the real question is, does the ABC have the guts to charge for HD? iView is the most advanced, oldest and most viewed platform, but it still lacks HD – simply a bandwidth cost problem we would assume.
It also comes as CBS the new owners of Ten look set to launch their “All Access” service in Australia – again, a paid premium catch-up and streaming service.
Additionally, throughout 2018 7Plus will also be rolled out onto more devices, including Samsung SmartTV’s, Android TV, LG TVs and Sony TVs, as well as Foxtel’s Foxtel Now box.
It’s a very aggressive plan and timeline, one that should put 7 at the forefront of Australian Free to Air streaming services and sets Seven up for a post Free to Air world where everything is on-demand, some of it – at a price.