Dendy has announced that their VOD service, Dendy Direct, is not long for this world, setting an end date of 14 May, 2018.
In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Dendy’s head of marketing Scott Mota said, “Dendy launched the service in 2014 to provide its customers with an all-encompassing experience of the Dendy brand at home, creating an exciting synergy between exhibition and digital consumption. As a local and independent brand, Dendy Direct prided itself on offering a unique and carefully curated experience for its customers.”
Dendy Direct was more recently a driver of an initiative to launch PVOD (Premium VOD) in this territory, something that is prevalent in the US and UK, but is struggling to gain traction in Australia. Dendy Cinemas, along with a few other indies, would release a film (launched with Australia Day and most successful with Girl With All the Gifts) in cinemas, and then a week later the film would be available through Dendy Direct and Foxtel for a premium streaming price.
“Since launching the on-demand service 4 years ago, there have been several disruptors to the Australian VOD landscape which has changed consumers attitudes and viewing behaviours,” said Mota in the statement. “The pressures of keeping up with rapidly changing technology have become too challenging for a local independent business. Dendy has decided to focus on its core business of delivering quality cinema experiences to the Australian consumer.”
Reading between the lines, those “several disruptors” are streaming services Netflix, Stan, and Amazon Prime Video (yes, it’s still around), all of which operate on an all you can eat buffet model, in contrast to Dendy’s a la carte service, in which customers pay for each rental and/or purchase. Given that giants like Google and iTunes already operate in and dominate that space, it’s not hard to see the logic behind this decision.
Additionally, Dendy Direct and the PVOD initiatives were driven by Greg Hughes, MD of the Dendy/Icon group, who departed the organisation a few months ago.
It’s all a bit of a shame. Dendy have long championed indie and and world cinema, and have done much to put interesting niche and foreign language films in front of Australian audiences, in addition to the more mainstream fare common across the exhibition landscape. Hopefully their renewed focus on theatrical will reap dividends for Australian punters.