Epix Bulks Up Online Movie Library to Rival Netflix

Epix, the new premium channel from Viacom, its Paramount Pictures unit, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate, has upped its commitment to online content by promising to deliver 3,000 movies to subscribers through EpixHD.com.

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. 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, 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.

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