6 Portal Way,
London W3 6RU
|Area served||UK and Germany.|
|Key people||Jim Buckle, Managing Director;
Simon Morris, CMO;
Fern O'Sullivan Operations Director
|Products||Online DVD rental|
|Services||PlayStation 3 - November 2010
Xbox 360 - December 2011
iPad - September 2011
Wii U - November 2012
PlayStation 4 - Q4 2013
|Revenue||c.US$150 million (2009)|
|Divisions||LoveFilm UK, LoveFilm Germany.|
LoveFilm (stylised as LOVEFiLM) is a UK-based provider of DVD-by-mail and streaming video on demand in the UK and Germany. It is an Amazon.co.uk subsidiary, and operates the LoveFilm website, as well as providing outsourced website and delivery infrastructure for other British companies.
In January 2012, LoveFilm announced that it had reached 2 million subscribers. It also claims over 70,000 titles, and over 4 million DVD, Blu-ray or Games rentals per month across five countries. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, LoveFilm has, in a few years, become the leading online DVD rental and streaming outlet in the UK and across Europe.
The company previously offered a download service alongside postal delivery, but this ceased on 23 February 2009. Instead, the company has started a "watch online" service which offers over 4,700 films available to watch as part of subscription. This online viewing is available free for subscribers who have opted for one of their unlimited monthly rental plans or the unlimited streaming-only plan.
LoveFilm has grown due to 10 mergers and the acquisition of several other on-line DVD rental companies - the three main ones being Online Rentals Limited (the original company), ScreenSelect and Video Island.
In September 2003, William Reeve and Alex Chesterman launched ScreenSelect, based in Acton in West London. And in the same month Redbus Group launched Video Island, based in Kings Cross in central London.
In October 2003, Online Rentals Ltd was bought by Arts Alliance Ventures, a family-owned private equity firm. In December 2003, DVDsOnTap rebranded to LoveFilm, appointed Mark Livingstone as CEO, and relocated to much larger premises in the Spire Green Business Park in Harlow, Essex.
ScreenSelect led what became a clutch of mergers across the UK DVD rental industry. In December 2003, this began with the acquisition of In-Movies. In September 2004, ScreenSelect followed up with the merger with Video Island, which combined ScreenSelect's management and brand with Video Island's venture capital.
The year 2005 saw both LoveFilm and ScreenSelect grow rapidly as fierce rivals - with strong backers, these two firms leaped ahead of their rivals. LoveFilm reached 50,000 subscribers in December 2004, and shortly afterwards acquired the retail chain Choices' online business. By March 2005, it had reached 100,000 customers, and shipped almost 700,000 rentals. In June 2005, ScreenSelect acquired DVDs365 (owner of Mailbox Movies, MovieTrak and Qflicks) and a few months later LoveFilm acquired the tiny Webflix. Both rivals acquired a Scandinavian firm; ScreenSelect acquired BraFilm (a Swedish and Norwegian business), and LoveFilm acquired Boxman (operating in Sweden and Denmark).
By 2006 ScreenSelect had outgrown LoveFilm, with over 200,000 customers against LoveFilm's 100,000 users. In April 2006, LoveFilm and Screenselect merged using ScreenSelect's management and technology platform, but with the LoveFilm brand, and moved the headquarters to Acton - ScreenSelect's original base. By the end of 2006 the LOVEFiLM brand had replaced ScreenSelect, Brafilm and Boxman everywhere except Norway - which followed in 2008.
In 2010, Lovefilm released their Playstation 3 online streaming service.
In September 2011, a LoveFilm app for the iPad was released to allow streaming films on iPad devices. The LoveFilm app was also released for the Xbox 360 in December 2011.
On 30 May 2012, LoveFilm partnered with NBC Universal to bring Universal films to their service, and also announced that they would be bringing HD Streaming to their services. HD Streaming is now available on LoveFilm.
In October 2012, Amazon launched the Kindle Fire HD in the UK and Germany, which included Lovefilm integrated into the Amazon Videos application, much in the same way Amazon Instant Video is integrated in the United States. Subsequent streaming application launches, including the Wii U in December 2012 and a revamped PS3 application in May 2013, demonstrated a markably similar - and considerably improved on Lovefilm's previous offerings - UI design shared with Amazon Instant Video.
On 10 June 2013, LoveFilm announced that it would shut down its service in Scandinavia. Now, the Swedish, Norwegian and Danish websites merely display a message about the service having been closed down.
Rental services operated for other companies
Besides its own DVD rental and purchase sites, Lovefilm used to run a number of such sites on behalf of other companies. The following is a list of previous white label services operated by Lovefilm:
- WHSmith Movies Direct - from the WH Smith bookstore chain.
- Tesco DVD Rental - Service for the Tesco supermarket chain website. On August 1st Lovefilm replaced Tesco DVD Rentals and all customers where switched over. They where given (at no extra cost) Access to Lovefilms Library on DVD, Access to new features like multiple rental lists, Lovefilm Instant and Games for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3
- EasyCinema - Service in conjunction with the Easy Group.
- Odeon Direct - Service in conjunction with the Odeon cinema chain.
- Nectar DVD Rental - Service for the Nectar loyalty card.
- CD-WOW! - an online retailer.
- Sofa Cinema - the Guardian newspaper sponsors this site.
Natwest/Royal Bank of Scotland
LoveFilm originally used partners to advertise its services but started to run TV adverts from 2006. Since then, the number of white label services and partners has decreased, possibly due to increased brand awareness of the LoveFilm name. Since advertising on a regular basis on TV the company has used British male actors for voice overs - Simon Pegg, Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy and Ray Winstone. As of 2009, the theme song for the TV ads is "It Must Be Love" by Madness. LoveFilm advertise in multiple media - online, press, TV, train posters, door drops, promotions and even bathroom posters in clubs, pubs and service stations.
"Throttling" and dispute of fair usage policy
LoveFilm came in for criticism from users over its claim to offer "unlimited" DVD rentals. Some users reportedly found the company used long delays at the shipping stage to reduce the number of films a month a customer can rent. In 2006, before the merger with ScreenSelect, LoveFilm was subject of complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority over the use of the word "unlimited" in their advertising. The ASA upheld the complaint. It was revealed that they practised throttling, where high-volume customers may experience a greater likelihood of (slower) shipments from alternate warehouses, and selections from lower in their rental list. They are also less likely to receive replacement shipments on the same day a disc is received. The company itself claimed that this "fair usage" policy means all customers get a similar service.
Dispute with Universal Pictures
In late November 2009, LoveFilm stopped adding new DVDs from the distributor Universal Pictures UK to the rental sector of their site. This made a number of films unavailable to users including Public Enemies, The Invention of Lying, Brüno, Funny People, Inglourious Basterds and Kick-Ass. This dispute was resolved in May 2012 and LoveFilm now rents post-2009 films distributed by Universal Pictures as well as streaming titles on the instant service.
- Netflix, founded in 1997, had launched their UK online streaming service to compete with LoveFilm.
- LoveFilm download service now offline. Lovefilm.com.
- Grossman, Wendy (30 September 2002). "Starting Out". The Daily Telegraph.
- LOVEFiLM | CrunchBase Profile. Crunchbase.com.
- LOVEFiLM History - Amazon to Acquire LOVEFiLM International Limited http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/press/pr/20110120
- Screen Select merges with DVDs365[dead link]
- LoveFilm joins forces with Webflix[dead link]
- LOVEFiLM to Acquire Amazon’s European DVD Rental Business - Amazon to become largest shareholder of LoveFilm. Lovefilm.co.uk (24 May 2010).
- LoveFilm website. Lovefilm.com (24 May 2010).
- Williams, Christopher. (5 February 2008) Amazon buys into LoveFilm. The Register.
- LoveFilm investors. Lovefilm.com (25 May 2010).
- Amazon To Buy UK Rental Firm Lovefilm. News.sky.com (20 January 2011).
- LoveFilm bought by Amazon. Growing Business.
- LoveFilm shuts down in Scandinavia
- Amazon’s LOVEFiLM Pulls Its Subscription DVD And Streaming Service Out Of Scandinavia
- Movies Direct - Online DVD, CD & Games Rental. WHSmith (16 March 2010).
- Help - easyCinema Online DVD Rental. Lovefilm (1 August 2012).
- Help - Odeon Direct changing to. Lovefilm (1 August 2012).
- Help - Nectar DVD Rental changing to. Lovefilm (1 August 2012).
- "LOVEFiLM DVD Rentals Natwest". natwest.com. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
- "LOVEFiLM DVD Rentals RBS". rbs.co.uk. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
- [dead link]
- Advertising Standards Authority adjudication upholding a complaint against LoveFilm. 9th August 2006.[dead link]
- Tim Bradshaw (30 May 2012). "LoveFilm and Universal end rights dispute". Financial Times. Retrieved 6 June 2012.