As a content provider for movies to digital platforms, I am most often asked about the three most recognizable platforms: Amazon, iTunes and Netflix. While these services have the largest user base – even though the subscribers and title availability can vary – it’s important to look at other great destinations for our films that might not be as in the forethought for consumers or producers, but have great potential to shake things up in the near future. For us most recently, the launch of Google Play and our partnership with VUDU have helped us build a more robust delivery roster to offer film producers.
With its rebranding of the Android Marketplace to Google Play, the technology giant has made another step in its effort to consolidate its products under one umbrella; as well as moving users into the Google wallet. Part of the natural evolution of Google’s media offerings in its effort to compete with iTunes, Play is a “(a) digital entertainment destination where you can find, enjoy and share your favorite music, movies, books and apps on the web and on your Android phone or tablet.” The emphasis being that while the Android app was successful, they needed to remove the idea that it was for mobile devices only.
All movies that are made available through the YouTube VOD service are aggregated to the Google Play marketplace. While the sorting is simple and collections and features are limited, content providers can make use of the tagging and keywords already built into YouTube to find consumers in Play. In addition, Play will be found in the black navigation bar when users are signed into any Google product. The next step for the service will be adding a “download-to-own” option for movies that users can store in Google’s Cloud access from anywhere. Rumors are that this deal will be finalized shortly depending on negotiations with some of the major studios. Movies are currently only available in the US, UK, Canada, France and Japan, but we can expect to see more territories rolled out worldwide.
Perhaps the least well known video service, VUDU, has been quietly growing to own a 5% share of the digital video space. With its availability across nearly all devices and platforms — not to mention that it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of Wal-Mart, thus allowing it to be preinstalled as an app for all TV’s sold at the retail behemoth — it boasts a large collection of titles, promotional opportunities and a choice for both VOD and EST consumers. The only drawbacks for them seem to be the lack of availability outside of the US and that it isn’t a household name — yet. For content providers, these features and placement seem to be fairly democratic, and collections are evenly focused on pricing promotions for more recognizable titles and spotlights on independent and festival films.
While the digital video marketplace can seem like a two-party race, the platforms that exist on the margins offer consumers and providers just as good of an experience. As is inevitable, this space will get more carved up as services lose their flavor and users migrate. For our clients and The Orchard, we want to get to the head of the line for the fifth row center seats that have the best views.