Posts tagged Bros
Many people in the film and tech industries scratched their heads when movie studio Warner Bros. acquired film directory and critic app Flixster. It made a little bit more sense when Warner said that Flixster would be the primary driver of its UltraViolet offerings, but people were not sure what to expect from a so-called new and improved Flixster when Warner integrated it into its plans.
The product is now out. It is called Flixster Collections and it is a desktop applications intended to be movie aficionados everything – directory, film and show information (like IMDBb), social sharing channel, viewing habit and history aggregator, new content explorer and download center. It is certainly and ambitions undertaking by Warner. The problem with Flixster Collections beta is that it is a cumbersome and probably unnecessary addition desktop application.
This is what happens when movie studios by tech startups. They say “we like what you do, but can you add all these features our executives want?” Flixster Collections beta is a classic example of feature overload. The desktop app is arranged with columns left to right that include “free extras,” “free downloads,” “in theaters” and so on. Rotten Tomatoes, the popular movie critic site that was acquired by Flixster before Warner Bros. acquired it, has a column in Collections, which should ease the mind of many who wondered what the studio would do with a site that is often intensely critical of new movies.
Collections does not appear to have any streaming options yet. Content acquisition appears to still be in the “buy” or “download” dichotomy. That could change when UltraViolet, the digital rights management, content ownerships and streaming project being worked on by the film and tech industries is ready for public adoption later this year.
Collections can connect to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Flixster accounts as well as import what you have downloaded through iTunes. It does not appear to let users actually watch content through any of the streaming services so the likely product of linking those accounts is for the purpose of sharing.
Flixster Collections has bolted Facebook into its platform. You can share what you have watched or movies that you have added to your “collection” to your Facebook wall. It is not like the way Hulu has integrated Facebook, which allows users to share and comment on specific moments of a show with a video clip in the Facebook news feed. It is less intuitive and interactive as you can “publish” your activity to your wall.
Overall, Flixster Collections feels like some talented designers were physically forced to add a glut of features into a template designed by a clueless movie executive. As a pure desktop application, Collections will probably be a niche product used by the most devote of Warner Bros. or Flixster fans. Otherwise, there are other services on the Web or mobile applications (such as the dedicated Hulu, Netflix, Flixster, IMDb apps) that do the same thing, just better.
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group announced an agreement today to acquire Flixster, a popular movie discovery application company that includes review site Rotten Tomatoes. Warner Bros. said in the announcement that it will utilize Flixster to launch initiatives designed to grow digital content ownership.
What does this mean for Flixster? Warner says that Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes will both remain completely independent. Flixster will be getting into content distribution through Warner Bros., a big leap in scope and functionality for a company that provides applications and access to reviews. Warner says that it will tie Flixster in with its announced “Digital Everywhere” application designed to organize and access consumers’ digital libraries from any device.
“Driving the growth of digital ownership is a central, strategic focus for Warner Bros.,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group in a press release. “The acquisition of Flixster will allow us to advance that strategy and promote initiatives that will help grow digital ownership.”
Warner Bros. thinks that the combination of Flixster/Rotten Tomatoes, Digital Everwhere and its support of the UltraViolet format will be part of a winning platform to “give consumers even more freedom, utility and value for their digital purchases.” UltraViolet will launch later this year as cloud-based storage to give consumers the ability to watch digital media across multiple platforms.
According to Warner, the Flixster application has been downloaded 35 million times between Android, iOS and BlackBerry operating systems. Rotten Tomatoes serves critiques to 12 million unique monthly visitors and has grown a robust movie reviewing community. Flixster acquired Rotten Tomatoes in Jan. 2010 from IGN Entertainment, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Rotten Tomatoes features around 2.3 billion user reviews, 500,000 critic reviews and 35,000 trailers and videos.
It is doubtful that Warner Bros. will be able to use the partnership with Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes to influence or silence negative reviews of its movies. The site and community is just too big to be controlled, even by one of the biggest movie studios in the world. To temper Rotten Tomatoes, Warner Bros. would have to shutdown the site entirely. After having paid for it, that does not seem likely, especially considering that a replacement would pop up on the Internet almost immediately.
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Earlier this month, Warner Bros announced that it would become the first Hollywood studio to make its movies available for sale or rental via Facebook. Its first offering: The Dark Knight. Now Warner Bros has added five more blockbuster titles to its Facebook rental catalog: Inception, Life as We Know It, Yogi Bear, and the first two Harry Potter movies.
The new films will cost between 30 and 40 Facebook credits (between $3 and $4) for a 48-hour rental period. During that time period, you’ll have unlimited streaming access to the movie, meaning you can pause, rewind, watch on different computers, and watch numerous times. The movies are purchased and streamed within the Facebook page, meaning you won’t have to leave the site in order to watch. You’ll still be able to update your status and chat with friends. However, as the video player is Flash, you won’t be able to watch your Facebook movies on your Apple devices.
The move by Warner Bros to make its films available to stream via Facebook is an effort to expand the company’s digital distribution efforts. The titles released today include a number of very recent movies. Yogi Bear was just released on DVD last week, and Life As We Know It came to DVD in early February.
But the real competition here might not be the DVD rental business: it’s likely Netflix and its video streaming service. Certainly renting a movie for $3 to $4 a pop isn’t as good a deal as Netflix’s $8-per-month streaming subscription. Netflix has more titles, and that $8 gets you unlimited access to them.
However, none of the six titles that Warner Bros has released via Facebook are available to stream on Netflix. (You can get the DVDs in the mail, of course, with the exception of Yogi Bear. New titles have a 28-day waiting period before coming to the movie rental site).
Recent statistics point to Netflix as controlling a major share of the video streaming market – 61%. But despite its success with customers, the movie rental company has frequently butted heads with the movie studios.
Warner Bros has not indicated what its plans are for releasing more movies via Facebook, but it may be looking to sidestep that control that Netflix currently has over the online streaming market.
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