Netflix, (s NFLX) Amazon (s AMZN) and YouTube (s GOOG) may all be in the running to acquire digital rights for Oscar-winning films and cult favorites from Miramax. The studio, which was just sold to Filmyard Holdings by Disney, (s DIS) will seek to make the most out of titles like Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and No Country for Old Men.
As Miramax wades into the murky waters of independence, it will seek to leverage a catalog of award-winning films, but its strategy for digital distribution is still up in the air. In a few interviews since his appointment, new CEO Mike Lang gave a few hints for what its plans might entail.
Currently, Miramax has limited distribution through online video on demand services like iTunes (s AAPL) and Amazon (s AMZN) Video On Demand, but it hasn’t licensed its content for subscription services like Netflix, (s NFLX) or made videos available in an ad-supported format on sites like Hulu or Comcast’s (s CMCSA) Fancast.com. Lang says he plans to explore all options before settling on one or more partners.
From his interview with AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher:
“‘Our strategy is still emerging, but we want to exploit our assets in a variety of ways,’ said Lang, who noted that could include everything from subscription deals with online video services, such as Netflix and Amazon, to digital content lockers in the cloud.
‘We want people to be able to access our content across multiple medias,’ he said. ‘We’ll take any payment, of course, but we also have to be smart about how we do these things.'”
Netflix might seem to be the front runner in this race; after all, it’s shown that it’s willing to write big checks, like the $900 million it’s paying to license online movies from premium cable network Epix. It’s also striking deals for exclusive access to content like first-run films from Relativity Media and Nu Image/Millennium Films. If Miramax was interested in a high-priced exclusive deal with a subscription service, Netflix might be the way to go.
That said, it seems that Lang is interested in making his film catalog available across multiple platforms, which could include making the films available on an ad-supported basis. In that case, YouTube might be interested — and the online video site is rumored to be working on a deal for access to Miramax titles. Hulu could also be a possibility, since Lang was an executive at News Corp. (s NWS) under Peter Chernin when the online video company was first formed.
At the same time, Miramax still believes in the opportunity for online video and electronic sell-through services, according to Lang. But he said those services would be bolstered by making that content available through a digital locker — like the type of offering that is being rolled out by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE). In an interview with paidContent, Lang said:
“Ultimately, the biggest opportunity is a locker with a digital cloud-like ecosystem where customers can buy content and use it across devices.”
Whichever direction Miramax goes, Lang is looking to be a leader in the digital distribution space, which is probably a good thing. Now that it’s on its own, the studio doesn’t have a lot to lose by experimenting with different digital strategies.
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