So now we know why Time Warner purchased Flixster earlier this year: According to CEO Jeff Bewkes, the social movie discovery platform will be used by Warner Bros. to push its rollout of digital video services based on the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem’s (DECE) Ultraviolet digital video format.
On Time Warner’s earnings call Wednesday morning, Bewkes gave some details about the studio’s introduction of movies that will be available for consumers to “buy once and play anywhere.” With a common file format and digital rights locker enabled by Ultraviolet, Warner Bros. and other studios will begin making movies available for sale later this year that can be purchased and watched on a number of different devices.
Beginning with summer titles Horrible Bosses and Green Lantern in the fourth quarter, Bewkes said Warner Bros. will make the majority of its releases available through Ultraviolet. But key to Time Warner’s introduction of these services will be the Flixster social discovery app.
“Today, Flixster is one of the most popular applications for finding information about movies, and over the coming months we’ll begin to roll out new upgraded versions of the Flixster service, which will be deeply integrated with UltraViolet,” Bewkes said.
The Flixster app will not only let users create UltraViolet accounts and manage their movie collections, but it will have the added benefit of acting as a way for users to discover and purchase movie content. With social recommendations built in, Flixster will be able to share what they’re watching with friends, adding a new way for users to learn about movies that might interest them.
Movie studios, broadcasters and video distributors are increasingly turning to social recommendations as a way to increase interest in digital content. Hulu recently rolled out Facebook integration that it hopes will help grow audiences for streaming videos on its website, and Netflix is looking to follow suit. Warner Bros. itself has experimented with social viewing by making some of its movies available on Facebook, hoping that users sharing their views on the social network will further increase interest in its titles online.
Time Warner hopes that together, Flixster’s social features and integration with Ultraviolet will bring new life to the prospect of owning digital movies. According to Bewkes, “We believe that this could fundamentally change help people manage and watch their movie collections and it could significantly improve the value proposition of digital ownership.”