Using the whole chicken: Warner looks to monetize movie audio clips


With DVD sales and rentals generating billions of dollars less each year, Hollywood’s major studios are pretty much open new ideas about digital monetization.

Seattle-based Hark, which bills itself as a kind of YouTube for audio clips, is currently pitching the majors on a concept it calls “derivative content.” The company just announced a deal with Warner Bros. to stream sound files on its site from nearly 100 of the studio’s movies.

The plan works this way: Movie fans searching for, say, Laurence Fishburne’s memorable description of the Matrix in Warner’s 1999 eponymous sci-fi classic will be directed to a page that not only has a streamed audio file of that quote, but also has a national advertising component the studio shares revenue in. It also has links to direct the user to Amazon and the Warner studio shop so that they can rent or buy the movie.

The deal with Warner Bros. formalizes and expands on a pilot program Hark already had in place with the studio to use a finite amount of audio content. Aronchick said Hark expects to announce  similar content deals in the coming months with other studios. Hark currently has clips from other studios, including audio from Paramount titles like The Godfather: Part 2 and Lionsgate-produced TV shows like Mad Men.

So how much monetization are we talking about at this point? Well, the money isn’t going to replace DVD anytime soon, but based on the performance of the pilot partnerships with studios, Hark CEO David Aronchick told paidContent, “We are generating value in the six-figure range trending to seven figures on an annualized basis.”

Currently, Hark gets about 50 million users a month, according to comScore data, leveraging a library of nearly 3 million audio clips, most of them uploaded by users. But Aronchick believes traffic to his ad-supported site will expand even more if it can leverage the hundreds of millions of searches that take place for specific movie quotes.

“We look through search logs, just in a month, there are at least 100 million queries just for the word ‘quote,'” he said. “That’s where we see the bulk of our traffic coming from.”


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