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Google Play and VUDU: Video Distribution Platforms on the Rise

April 9, 2012 Film/TV News No Comments

google play vudu video distributionAs 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.

The Ordinary Skier Gets Hulu Feature; Wins Best Original Score at X-Dance Film Fest

January 25, 2012 Film/TV News No Comments

Exciting time here for The Orchard video department. With the launch of The Orchard Sports imprint we have been busy getting lots of exciting action sports titles through our doors.

One of the most impressive and timely ones is the Seth Morrison bio-documentary The Ordinary Skier. Morrison has been one of the most groundbreaking big mountain skiers since the early 90’s when skiing was getting nowhere near the attention of their single plank cousins in the snowboard world. The film picked up Best Original Score at the X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival in Salt Lake City, UT last week and we’re pleased to have it as The Orchard Sports’ premiere on Hulu. The Ordinary Skier features some great athletes, who will be competing this weekend at the Winter X-Games in Aspen, CO.

4192: The Crowning of the Hit King Now on Hulu; Soundtrack by Robert Pollard

October 13, 2011 Film/TV News No Comments

With the MLB Pennant Race in full swing, let’s take a look at one of the most controversial hitters of all time: Pete Rose.

One of fiercest competitors to ever step on the field, Rose would run to first base on a walk, dive head-first into bases and during an all-star game would nearly end the career of the opposing catcher with a collision at home plate. It’s only fitting that Ty Cobb and Rose stand alone as the only hitters to have recorded more than 4,000 hits; both loved and reviled.

In 4192: The Crowning of the Hit King, director Terry Lukemire, interviews Rose and fellow teammates about his earliest days in the sandlots of Ohio to that moment in 1985 when Rose would surpass Cobbs record of 4,191 career hits. With music from fellow Ohioan and Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard and hosted by JK Simmons, 4192: The Crowning of the Hit King gives us a fair treatment of a complicated baseball icon.

Watch the documentary on Hulu or download on iTunes.

Fania All-Stars Do Their Thing

September 2, 2011 Film/TV News No Comments

In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s the trend of the concert film was inescapable. Every music festival film was considered part of a larger cultural revolution that promised everything from Peace and Love to the possibility of getting stabbed by an Oakland Hells Angel. To record these performances for posterity – not just of the musicians, but also of the fans in attendance – was considered an integral part of this cultural wave. While most of these events and artists were already part of a dominant genre – namely rock and pop – other sub-cultures took notice and appropriated the means to which their art could be brought to a wider audience.

In 1971 Fania Records teamed up with filmmaker Leon Gast to document what would become a legendary performance from some of that era’s biggest stars in Latin music at the Cheetah Club in New York City on a steamy night in August. Led by Fania All-Stars Ray Barrato, Willie Colon, and Johnny Pacheco, the stage full of musicians and a floor of dancers participated in a milestone moment in Latin music in the United States.

Our Latin Thing (Nuestra Cosa), saw a limited release and was thought lost to time until a surviving print was found in a theatre vault. Restored and digitized into hi-definition with newly remastered audio, the film should be of interest to fans of the genre and music history as well. A breathtaking moment in time of not only the performers but also of the streets and barrios from which their music emanated from parked cars and transistor radios.

Read more about the re-release in the New York Times and check out the film on iTunes.

Takedowns & Falls on iTunes

August 2, 2011 Film/TV News No Comments

Filmmaker Todd Hickey chronicles a season with a central Pennsylvania high school wrestling team and its journey to the state championships.  The young athletes profiled in Takedowns & Falls compete in a physically and mentally grueling sport that is often overlooked in favor of more popular scholastic athletics like basketball and football. Wrestlers compete in the dead of winter in stifling gymnasiums with little equipment and fanfare. It is a violent marathon that is full of disappointment and pain, hours of conditioning and practice, for those few minutes on the mat where they will grapple with an opponent of equal size and determination. Coach Jeff Sweigard, facing his own battle with cancer, must guide his young acolytes to the end; where only one wrestler will stand as champion in one of the toughest titles in high school wrestling. Available now on iTunes.

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