SnagFilms Brings Free, Ad-Supported Movies to Roku


Indie distributor SnagFilms launched a new channel on Roku broadband set-top boxes this week, offering Roku owners access to 150 different independent movies. The offering includes movies such as The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Buena Vista Social Club and Waiting to Inhale.

The official channel comes as SnagFilms aggressively builds out new distribution points on connected devices and through more traditional VOD services. Last month, it added an app for Boxee users. Viewers that have both an iPad and an Apple TV (s aapl) can use AirPlay to stream movies from its iPad app to their TV sets. And SnagFilms is already on VOD services provided by Comcast (s CMCSA) and Verizon, (s VZ) but is adding more multichannel operators to its list of distribution partners.

raised $10 million in funding

The company has also been busy adding new content to its library. Snagfilms now has more than 2,100 assets in its library, and expects to increase that to more than 3,000 by the end of the year, CEO Rick Allen told us in a phone interview. It’s also expanding the types of content that are available. While it has primarily been an active distributor of free, ad-supported documentary films, it has quickly added a number of fictional indie films for rental as part of its video-on-demand service. Those fiction titles will become available over the coming months.

“Our objective is to be as ubiquitous as Netflix (s NFLX) and to be able to have an extremely strong library of offerings,” Allen told us. To that end, SnagFilms recently raised $10 million funding to ramp up its distribution and content acquisition efforts. That money came from Comcast’s venture arm as well as New Enterprise Associates.

This wasn’t the first SnagFilms channel built for Roku. Earlier this year, a community member created an unofficial “private” channel users could install by entering a certain code in their Roku account page. But that app was taken down recently and replaced with the official SnagFilms channel, which is available in the Channel Store. This is a growing problem for Roku, which has also recently removed community-created YouTube (s GOOG) and CBS (s CBS) private channels at their request. With the official app, SnagFilms says it can provide a superior experience to the community-created channel. In an email, Allen writes:

“SnagFilms is pleased to offer an official channel on Roku, optimized for the Roku platform to ensure the best quality picture and sound, and prominently featured in the Roku channel store so Roku viewers can find it easily. We encourage community sharing and discussion of SnagFilm films via our website and Facebook page.”

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