Announced at their 'Allfronts' presentation last month Seven Chief Digital Office Clive Dickens and his team have *just* delivered the new catch up service 7plus with hours to spare before their self-imposed deadline of the end of November.
The good news is... it just works.
Separating themselves from their former partnership with Yahoo!, the new service allows Seven to deliver their own standalone platform that will leverage among other things their new targeted advertising platform along with a sizeable library of Network & original content.
The app is available now on iOS & Android, though if you have the 7 live app installed you'll need to delete it first and re-download it as 7plus. The website is also live at www.7plus.com.au.
The design is clean with multiple slider bars to highlight the available content, and both the iOS and desktop versions loaded content very quickly on my home network*. While the content isn't HD (and there are no controls for the user to choose their speed experience) it did deliver pretty crisp SD.
There are no ads appearing in the programs yet, and the plans for the "freemium" version are still to be announced - likely it will be access to full seasons of content after first episode airs terrestrially, and possibly with less or even no ads.
It's also the central portal for all of Seven's livestreaming services, integrated as simply as "this program is showing on this channel now, click on it to watch". The app asks when you first load to know your location even if you skip this it works out quickly where you are and serves you content in your state/timezone.
It's difficult delivering a new streaming service into a rapidly maturing local environment and the Seven team have delivered v1.0 as a solid, working platform.
There are a couple of small bugs (e.g. wrong title card showing on the platform for a specific movie) and the service lacks a guide to be able to see what's coming later on the channels of Seven, however these will easily be smoothed over as the platform itself gets future releases.
One thing Seven need to do is deliver more than just the content that is on their broadcast channels. The value add for consumers is the rare finds, the special programs, the unknown content they weren't expecting and can't find anywhere else.
In 2018 there will be 7plus exclusives, starting with season 2 of Yummy Mummies - a program which drew great criticism when it aired this year, though obviously drew enough in catch up and streamed views to validate a second season of the vacuous oxygen thieves from Melbourne. Curiously the first season is missing from the library - perhaps licensing prevents it being available at the moment.
7plus is a stable first entry that comes with big expectations (and certainly in the promotion of it Seven have talked a big game). The proof and value will be in the future versions of the product. For now, viewers will be able to watch their favourite Seven content on pretty much every device with ease.
*Tested on NBN FTTN service with speed test of 93Mbps down/37Mbps up.