Hoyts Stream: everything we know so far

Hoyts Stream
Can Hoyts Stream steal you away from iTunes and the like?

Venerable Australian cinema chain Hoyts is leaping into the 21-century this year, will plans to take its core business online and launch a streaming movie service. But with some many movie services around already, how does Hoyts hope to set itself apart?

Details of how the Hoyts Stream service will work, where it will work and for how much are limited at this time. Hoyts is keeping its cards close to its chest, though it does sounds like it will be a pay-per-view rather than a subscription service, building on the success of the Hoyts DVD rental kiosks found in shopping centres across Australia -- though this has not yet been confirmed.

According to Hoyts' Chief Marketing Marketing Officer Crispin Tristram, there will be a strong emphasis on a cross-platform rewards program. Until recently, there was no connection between customers visiting Hoyts cinemas and renting from Hoyts kiosks, but this will soon change.

"A Hoyts customer in the cinema can be given rewards that can be redeemed at home. [Movies watched] at home can be rewarded on a Saturday when I'm out with my wife or my friends, on food and beverages or discounted tickets."

This will expand again when the streaming movie service is launched.

"Now, with the rebrand, we've pulled together [the systems in the back-end] so that we can view each member as one single customer, so we can really drive home the convenience [of the combined services]."

Apps essential

Convenience in rewards in one thing, but convenience in accessibility is arguably more important. Tristram agrees that the service needs to be readily available across a number of devices, but it reluctant to reveal where exactly Hoyts will stream to, though he did suggest they were in discussions with manufacturing partners on "exclusive deals".

Hoyts did reveal last week that it has signed on with video content management firm Viocorp, a company who has Channel 7 and YouTube on its books. We're hopeful we'll find the platform across a range of home cinema devices and mobile platforms based on this relationship.

This is bound to be a difficult launch for Hoyts, with at least eight movie-on-demand services in Australia already. It is backing its considerable brand recognition in this space to make the difference, though.

"The research that we've done...places highly the ability for a cinema brand to transpose the cinema-going experience from exhibition in the home," Tristram explains. "[People think] yep, I know you as a movie brand, I trust that you know about movies in the home as well."

It would seem many in Australia might think this way, with 18-million tickets sold in Hoyts cinemas last year, and roughly 7 million DVD rentals at Hoyts Kiosks.

Hoyts Stream is set for a national launch in the second half of the year.