Exclusive: Lovefilm, the online DVD rental service, has slowly but surely been ramping up its digital plans over the last few months, first serving up a new iPhone app, then revealing plans to allow for movie streaming over new Sony and Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players. We dropped by the company’s offices today to see what else it has in the pipeline, so read on for what it’s planning to add, and when.
Lovefilm’s movie streaming service has been available on PCs for sometime now, and landed on a new batch of Sony TVs back in March, but the service is now set to roll out “in the next few days” to the newly shipping Samsung Internet@TV screens and Blu-ray players, according to Lovefilm chief marketing officer Simon Morris.
We got a chance to test out a final version before it’s pushed out to customers, and came away impressed: there are two streams for image quality based on your broadband speed which the PC version of Watch Online lacks, 700kbps and 1.6Mbps, and extra options to rate and add films to your DVD rental list have been added to the homescreen since we last saw it in action two months ago. An option to check out film reviews will also be added in the near future.
If you’re a Lovefilm subscriber eyeing a new IPTV flatscreen, we’d certainly consider Samsung’s service over Sony’s. Although both offer the same picture quality and streams, Lovefilm’s been able to create a much more powerful, custom design for Samsung than for Sony: it allows you to search through all 65,000 titles, with the list being whittled down in realtime as you type on a surprisingly efficient on screen keyboard, rather than simply browse a highlighted few.
Read our Lovefilm iPhone app review now
That said, the Sony Bravia Lovefilm streaming service is also set to get an update, with the handy addition of trailers, so you can get a better glimpse of what a film is like than a synopsis alone: we saw it in action, and it worked as you’d expect, with next to no load time.
Looking further ahead, we confirmed that Lovefilm is planning on adding Pay Per View options available on PCs to its TV services as well, though it’s further down the pipeline. “We have plans to take our transactions across platforms, but not this year,” group digital officer Leslie Mackenzie told us.
On the mobile front, Morris confirmed that a second version of the Lovefilm iPhone app is also on the way, and should hit the app store within “weeks”. “Trailer functionality” will feature, he revealed, so you should be able to watch a clip of a film on the go before adding it to your rental list. We also asked Morris if Android or other apps were planned, and while he wasn’t specific, he said the company is “looking at all platforms”.
Finally, Morris also said Lovefilm was willing to stock 3D Blu-ray films, though nothing has been set in stone yet, and that it would “definitely flag [up the differences] to you” in the same way it highlights DVDs and Blu-rays currently on its site.
From what we saw, Lovefilm is making a lot of moves to catch up with US equivalent Netflix in online features and compatibility. Unfortunately, Morris wouldn’t comment on the company’s plans for HD online streaming, but we’d stake a tidy sum it’s on its To Do List too. Here’s hoping.
Out TBC | £TBC | Lovefilm