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Epix Bulks Up Online Movie Library to Rival Netflix

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Epix, the new premium channel from Viacom (s VIA.B), its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (s MGM) and Lionsgate (s LGF), has upped its commitment to online content by promising to deliver 3,000 movies to subscribers through

Epix Megaplex, which will be a web option available to Epix’s distributors, will include many films which have never before been digitized, including selections of crime dramas, mob movies and musicals.

Epix Chief Digital Officer Emil Rensing contended in a phone interview last week that the collection will be the largest HD film library online, and that combining it with the company’s already announced selection of new releases would give the service a better online movie offering than anyone else, including Netflix (s NFLX). Netflix does have 17,000 titles, so we might have to ding him for hyperbole, but Rensing countered that Netflix inflates its library by counting every TV episode as an individual title.

All along, Epix has claimed its web component will match its TV channel, but Megaplex will in fact give web users access to far more than could ever be aired on TV. However, distributors may opt not to make Megaplex part of their Epix offering, and indeed the service’s sole announced distributor, Verizon (s VZ), has not yet signed on to make Megaplex available for its FiOS customers, said Rensing.

Rensing said Megaplex would launch in the first quarter of 2010, and have at least 3,000 titles by the second quarter. The next step for the online service will be developing recommendations, collaborative filtering and other methods for parsing all the choices.

Updated: We erroneously called the Megaplex product “Multiplex” in an earlier version of this post.

15 Responses to “Epix Bulks Up Online Movie Library to Rival Netflix”

  1. Just a note, in the source code on their home page, it has a bunch of Binary… (0’s and 1’s). It translates to:

    We’re no strangers to love
    You know the rules, and so do I


    Weird, huh?

  2. In the article, Rensing himself accuses Netflix of “inflating” their numbers, but by trying to position Epix as a rival, he’s the one that’s inflating the service. Epix isn’t a different monster, it’s about a couple of movie studios trying to create their own version of Hulu by colluding against consumers. The 100k+ choice vs. 17k digital very much matters because most consumers don’t subscribe to Netflix for the watch now and get the DVDs as a bonus, they are subscribing for the DVDs because the first sale doctrine allows DVD companies to offer everything to consumers whether the studios like it or not.

    When Hulu started to get popular on Boxee, they were forced to pull service because of pressure from their investors. Do consumers really want the movie studios in control of their viewing experience or a company who is neutral and able to work with everyone. When you look at how Epix has set up their service, it’s clear that it’s all about trying to dictate to consumers not giving them what they want. The limit titles may be a restrictions of the digital age, but limiting it’s choice to a few select TV subscribers doesn’t make any sense. Anyone in America can subscribe to Netflix, anyone who happens to subscribe to the right package on the right telephone provider can get Epix. How are these even rivals, it’s like the Yankees taking on a little league team.

    What Epix is trying to do is what’s been broken with the digital industry for a long time. For years, we haven’t been given content because the TV channels buy “exclusives” and then try and force consumers to subscribe to expensive bundles for a few hot movies like Iron Man. Now they are taking it online, but using the same tactics. No thanks, I want to live in a world where anything and everything is available to the best company that can package it for consumers. It’s not about who gets the exclusive to me, it’s who offers the most choice and until we come up with a first sale doctrine alternative for the digital age, I’ll stick to a digital/physical hybrid that can offer me just about any movie that ever been created.

  3. Netflix has 17,000 viewable online as mentioned in the article, not 100k+ titles. Epix is not trying to replicate, they’re trying to do something new. It’s more in direct competition with netflix view instantly, rather then netflix as a whole. They also promise to add on features like their private viewing room (ie: mystery science theater 3000, I think It’s a different monster entirely and has it’s own place on the web rather than “just another movie site.”

  4. If Epix is trying to take on Netflix, then their focus is in the wrong place. There have been plenty of digital download services that have failed (including ones that were formerly backed by major studios.) They may end up refining the experience from the early CinemaNow downloads, but 3,000 movies is nothing compared to the 100K+ selection you can get at Netflix.

    Without being able to offer ANY movie ever created, how are they even in the same league as Netflix? Epix will struggle with the same problem that all of the other download services have. How do they keep their suppliers (aka investors) honest? If a studio wants to sell their content for $10 to Amazon subscribers, why are they going to give it to Epix for any less? Since Netflix can still offer the title on DVD, it limits how much the stuidos can extract and still take away that same choice.

    The result is that Netflix gets older outdated content, but because of their data centric model, they still get films that most of their subscribers want to see. With a selection of the 3,000 films, how does Epix replicate the same experience? Without the first sale doctrine, how do they tell their investors to kick rocks when they offer terms that don’t allow them to grow and expand in the same way?

    I don’t care if their films have never been digitized, if it’s not relevant to my interests. There may be an advantage of trying to position themselves as an us vs. the market leader, but Epix doesn’t deserve the hype you’re giving them, for something that’s still not even available to the public.