BigPond decided in July 2011 decided to shut down DVD operations by 30 September 2011. This review is kept as it was for posterity.
Bigpond, (originally called 'Fetch Me Movies'), was the biggest online DVD rental company in Australia, but t hey decided to go all digital in their rentals, direct to home via broadband.
After that you can still get Bigpond Movies on a T-Box, via your PC, directly from an LG or Samsung TV and even via your mobile.
We expect this will cause a flood of customers to go for other DVD rental services, as many people don't want to go all digital, so Quickflix and to a lesser extent Webflicks will probably benefit.
Though they're closing down, we've decided to keep our review as it was for posterity. BigPond's website was easy to navigate, offering browsing by genre, actor, director, and language. BigPond also included recommendations, and listings by award winners, all time top 50, critic recommendations, and even provided film trailers. Our only real design criticism was that their search engine isn't as advanced as some of the other sites.
We liked the idea of BigPond's 'returned option' which allows you to tell them that you've returned a DVD so they can send you the next one - a major plus if you live some distance from their nearest distributor. Or, at least that was the theory - we received reports that it sometimes seems to make little difference.
In its final year, 2011, BigPond added lots of additional content, like trailers, critics reviews, and an assortment of favorite lists. In fact, they had something anyone can create, a PopList. These were created by BigPond Movies members on anything and
everything, from the general ("My All Time Favourite Movies") to special interest ("Buffy's Greatest Slayings"), and the downright strange ("Films with Green in the Title"). They were a great way for people to explore different films and interests they might not otherwise be exposed to.
The size of BigPond's High Definition Blu-ray disc inventory was difficult to discern, as they list the defunct HD-DVD format in the same category, but we estimated they stocked around 900+ Blu-Ray titles; very slightly more than Quickflix. BigPond has also launched a download service, the first Australian DVD company to do so.
Of course with the advantages of a big company some drawbacks--BigPond just couldn't match the customer care that some of the smaller companies pride themselves on. The vast majority of the time this wouldn't be an issue, but if you do have a problem or a disc gets lost in the post, expect them to be slow to respond to customer emails--we've scored them lower on Service for this.
Prices: Note, these prices are no longer valid as BigPond is not accepting new DVD rental customers given their shutdown. BigPond changed its pricing plans in April 2008, streamlining the choices and making the cheaper across the board. They started at $9.95/month for 2 discs at-a-time (with a limit of only 2 per month--working out to $4.98 per disc) and allowing cancellation at any time. Then there is a $12.95, 2 out, 3 max per month tariff (averaging out to $4.31 per disc), the very popular $19.95 plan, 3 discs out at once, for a total of 8 rentals in the month (averaging only $2.49 per disc--the best value deal in Australia), and finally, 4 out for $29.95, to with a maximum of 12 discs per month (also working out to $2.49 per disc). If you sign up for a 12-month contract, your monthly maximums on the plans above go from 2 to 3, 3 to 4, 8 to 10, and 12 to 14 respectively.