Accessibility developments of Hoyts kiosks

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20 July 2014

Roberta: Entertainment giant Hoyts has been developing its DVD kiosk business nationally, not only increasing the number of kiosks available to the public but also the accessibility information of the titles. To tell us more about the developments, Ally Woodford from Media Access Australia joins us today. Welcome, Ally.

Ally: Thanks, Roberta.

Roberta: First of all, what exactly is a DVD kiosk and why should technology companies address this market?

Ally: Well, a DVD kiosk is literally a vending machine. They offer new-release DVD titles to the general public to rent. I think it's up to 10 days at a time. So usually it's seven days. We've got 10 days now. And you don't need to be a member of a store. So there's a bit more flexibility. And the kiosks are also found mainly in public gathering places, so shopping, centres, malls and something public transport stations as well, the idea being that they're places that people visit on a daily basis so it's easy to pick up and return the DVD.

Roberta: So why has Hoyts developed these?

Ally: Well, Hoyts began the venture back in 2009. And in the last few years they have taken over another kiosk business called Oovie, that they were then able to greatly expand their reach nationally. I think Hoyt's is looking to the future of DVD availability in the knowledge that rental stores are struggling to keep their doors open in the face of growth of downloads through platforms like iTunes and Quickflix. I can't speak of the long-term future of these kiosks but suspect that they are an interim measure while broadband's still pretty slow for some and it's also quite expensive. So a kiosk, it's relatively feasible and a cost-effective option to fill that gap.

Roberta: So is every new title available?

Ally: Well, pretty much all the new blockbuster titles and the odd art-house, independent title will be available for a couple of months. But, being a vending machine, there's only so much space for DVD storage in each kiosk. So there's going to be a higher turnover of titles.

Roberta: So, in having a higher turnover of titles, does that make it less likely that you're able to find the title you want?

Ally: In a way, yes. But, well, one thing you can do is go to Hoyts Kiosk website and reserve a title at a particular machine. So you're assured of its availability when you physically get to the kiosk. Or, alternatively what you can do is, through the website locate the nearest kiosk to you that currently has that title.

Roberta: So, importantly, what has Hoyts done in terms of providing accessible information and also accessible kiosks?

Ally: Well, when I first took notice of Hoyts kiosks a few years ago, there was no accessibility information around the titles provided. That is, you could find a title, you could find out its rating, who stars in it, who directs it, et cetera, but there was no information on whether it was captioned or audio-described. And we did bring this up with Hoyts who, well let's just say they took it on board. And it has taken some time but they've now added this information on both the kiosks and the websites. But, as for the actual kiosks, they're a thick structure in a sense. So there's no ability to move the screen for a better viewing position, or increase the screen size or have the screen information read out to you. So it's going to still present some issues for people with vision problems or people in wheelchairs.

Roberta: So, Ally, you face up to a kiosk and how does it work?

Ally: Well, it's just a case of the homepage, there's a prompt that says look up a title. And you just follow the prompts to find the information you want and pressing the screen. It's a touchscreen. Once you've found your title and you want to rent that, put in your credit card. And it takes your money and off you go, pretty simply.

Roberta: So does it move onto a sort of USB or does it actually physically drop down into a box so you can pick up the DVD?

Ally: Yeah, you physically get a DVD just like you would in a rental store.

Roberta: I've seen one of those in Eastland in Melbourne.

Ally: Yeah.

Roberta: And I've never stopped to look at it. But I thought, "Oh, that's interesting." And now you've told me all about it.

Ally: Yep, and so it's a little bit more flexible because, if you pick a DVD up from that Hoyts kiosk in Eastlands, you can return it to a different kiosk. It doesn't, you've got more flexibility there.

Roberta: That's a shame that the video and DVD shops are going out of business but at least we can still get them, can't we?

Ally: Yeah, as I said, I'm wondering whether it's a bit of an interim fix. But we'll see. Time will tell, I guess.

Roberta: Wow, that's the thing. Well, for more information on the growing trend of DVD kiosks, you can have a chat with Ally by calling her on (02) 9212-6242 or emailing And to find out more about access to media and technology visit Media Access Australia's website, Thank you, Ally, for all of that today.

Ally: No worries, Roberta.

Roberta: I've been speaking with Ally Woodford from Media Access Australia. And I'll just give you that number again if you would like to contact Ally and find out all about the DVD kiosks, (02) 9212-6242. Or you can find out, as I mentioned, access to media and technology by visiting Media Access Australia, And Media Access is a supporter of this program.

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