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Epix Provides "Free" HD Studio Content Via TV and Internet 68

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the experimenting-with-definitions-of-free dept.
It looks as though the movie studios are at least trying to learn from past failures and others' success with the upcoming launch of Epix (beta starts today), an HD television channel and accompanying online 720p service. The good part about this service is, if you are lucky enough to have a television provider who decides to become a partner, you wont have to pay extra to get it. The main downside, of course, is if your cable company decides not to plug this service in you will have no way to subscribe. "Like Hulu, the Epix movie service is a joint venture formed by the content owners; in this case, the service is powered by the movie studios Lions Gate, Paramount, and MGM. The Epix TV network will air movies that are in the "pay-TV" window — those weeks before a film appears on DVD in which it is available on pay-per-view or HBO, among others."
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Epix Provides "Free" HD Studio Content Via TV and Internet

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  • I'll set up my Boxee tonight to pick up these streams! Which will probably work for about 1 1/2 days before being blocked!
  • "The main downside of course is if your cable company decides not to plug this service in you will have no way to subscribe."

    Yeah, that's what ESPN is doing now with ESPN 360. The ISP subscribes or you are out of luck. ESPN would actually make money off of me if they bothered to set up their own network infrastructure instead of charging local ISPs for the privilege.

    • by mpapet (761907)

      Do you see how that would empower the telcos who own most of the network needed to do what you describe?

      Remember that the telcos are trying to extend their monopoly into entertainment while POTS service slowly dies. The entertainment conglomerates would rather maintain their own monopoly over the distribution of entertainment at the expense of the telcos.

      Do you see how a-la-carte media distribution will probably never come to pass in the U.S.?

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3@@@phroggy...com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:15PM (#28252935) Homepage

    Why would they do this? This is going to compete against both pay-per-view/HBO and DVD sales/rentals, both of which bring in real revenue. Are they really betting the ad revenue from Epix will offset that loss? Or are they simply trying to attract attention without a business model?

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:23PM (#28253035)

      The cable company pays them for the right to carry the service/channel. By bundling the paywall in with your cable, they (in all fairness) open up a cheap and legal means for a large number of people to watch network shows online. On the downside (and more cynical side), this is now being bundled with your cable bill whether you like it or not, essentially forcing all cable subscribers to subsidize the program.

      • Unfortunately this will probably be the post-cable model for video. Your ISP will sign contracts with video providers and the price will be implicitly included in your bill with no ability to opt-out or choose your own video providers "a la carte" without switching ISPs. This "guaranteed revenue" model is just too profitable for the ISPs or the media companies to give up.

        If the ISPs had any sense they'd implement their own open payment system where third parties could charge consumers via the ISP and ha

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:39PM (#28253203) Homepage

      Well I can't say for sure, but my guess would be that they're looking at how much revenue they're losing to online torrents and asking themselves, "Is there any way we can get that business?"

      As for the alternatives, they don't care about cannibalizing DVD rentals, because they don't really make money from them. They could license the same content to HBO, but then they basically have to take the cut of profits that HBO gives them. Why not just start your own channel and keep all the profits for yourself? They might hurt DVD sales, but they might believe that DVD sales are already on the way out.

      Ultimately they're faced with a problem. Their old business model depended on having complete control over distribution, so if you wanted to see a movie just out in theaters, you had to rush to see in in theaters or else wait a year for it to come out on video. If you wanted to see the movie during the time between theatrical release and video release, well... tough. These days, if you really want to see a movie, you can often get it online before the theatrical release, most likely before it comes out on video, and certainly once it's been released to video. The movie studio has to make it a little more pleasant and convenient for people to see the movies they want to see, when they want to see it, and how they want to see it, or risk having their current business model fall apart.

    • I think this is like ESPN360 [espn360.com] like AT&T ISP can show this, but not TWC's RoadRunner.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:16PM (#28252951)

    I think not. This is the content providers selling access to their cable arms. This is just another attempt to turn the internet into AOL.

    If they had learned anything the films would be available to anyone with the cash in hand and would be in an unDRMed format.

  • Really, though. I can't imagine cable providers wanting to upset the likes of HBO, Showtime, Max, etc, by agreeing to an untested service that directly competes with those? Have to wait and see, whenever they announce the partners.
  • They both rot your brains.

    • If it's just like Hulu, then the content won't be available to non-USians.
    • I can watch all sorts of PBS documentaries on Hulu...please take your pseudo intellectual indignation elsewhere.
       

  • No chance (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:19PM (#28252989)

    1. Cable companies make money on pay-per-view. This product would provide the same movies for free to subscribers, and would probably cost cable companies themselves to offer it. Given that cable companies are in the business of making money, it would seem like they have every reason to avoid this.
    2. The article says that Netflix isn't a viable outlet for the studios because it doesn't have many new releases.

    "the real question is why the studios would launch their own distribution network instead of just offloading the films to partners already equipped to handle them? Rensing insists that the services are just too different. While Hulu does offer some films, it's focused almost exclusively on TV at the moment and is ad-supported. Netflix On Demand doesn't have access to the same super-recent hit titles." [FTFA, no edits]

    How is that a reason? The studios don't let Netflix stream the new movies. That's not a distribution system issue, it's a policy decision by these very studios. It's just sloppy reporting, I guess. It should just say "The studios don't want to use Netflix On Demand."

    • by GeorgeS (11440)

      1. Cable companies make money on pay-per-view. This product would provide the same movies for free to subscribers, and would probably cost cable companies themselves to offer it. Given that cable companies are in the business of making money, it would seem like they have every reason to avoid this.

      They don't have to offer this channel in the "basic" package so they may be "making money" by selling the higher priced packages to more subscribers.

    • by omnichad (1198475)
      It's "free" but probably only with higher priced cable packages. They're only saying that it will be included with a package, not that it's really free. I'm sure it wouldn't come with basic cable.
  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:25PM (#28253059)
    we can all say, "Epix Fail!"
  • Seriously? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:27PM (#28253089)

    Is this really a good idea?

    Upsides:
    No fees listed on cable bill
    Can stream to computer or watch HD channel directly
    No ads

    Downsides:
    Service is -not- free. Only way to get it is for your Cable provider to subscribe and pass that cost on to every single subscriber, whether they want it or not, as part of their standard cable bill.

    This could be a nice service, if you could sign up for it as an individual and it was reasonably priced. I can't see how it could possibly be reasonably priced, though, since they are putting up movies that compete with rentals and PPV. Unless, of course, it's only old crappy movies, and then it's crap you could watch anyhow, but with ads.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      I disagree.

      How about the movie studios stop being raging assholes and allow Netflix to stream the new releases?

      No need to create a new model, if you want it you can subscribe. Everyone is happy.

      Plus I dont have to make the old lady down the street pay for my movie subscription with their trickle down pricing pyramid scheme.

  • This could be great at first if it works and gains ground, but I don't foresee this service staying free for a large period of time. I mean look at Hulu, It has not been around long at all and already they are considering changing the service from free to paid. Greed and capitalism of the entertainment industry keep anything from being free for too long.
    • Greed and capitalism of the entertainment industry keep anything from being free for too long.

      Greed and capitalism is the reason most products exist in the first place. Do you think these millionaire socialists and communists in Hollywood make these massively expensive movies just to release them for free? Why bother? Even the quasi-communistic F/OSS we all know and love is driven by certain types of greed, and increasing amounts of capitalism.

      • Why Open Source? Altruism, sure, validation of your programming
  • No, this isn't a RMS-style rant.

    Most of you gladly pay for your cable/satellite services. You watch maybe 10% of the stuff in a given package as sold by the providers. If, in some fairy tale, this service were actually to be bundled for the vast majority of you, it's hardly free.

    Is this what 'free' has come to mean? It is a dumb question, but I just don't see how it can be rationalized as free to the point that editors will just let it go. OTOH, it could be a slashvertisement.

    Still, I want to know. Is t

  • by bwindle2 (519558) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:47PM (#28253311)
    Did anybody else notice the binary block in their front page's HTML code ( 01010111011001010010011101110010 01100101001000000110111001101111 00100000011100110111010001110010 01100001011011100110011101100101 01110010011100110010000001110100 01101111001000000110110001101111 01110110011001010000110100001010 01011001011011110111010100100000 01101011011011100110111101110111 00100000011101000110100001100101 00100000011100100111010101101100 01100101011100110010110000100000 01100001011011100110010000100000 01110011011011110010000001100100 011011110010000001001001)? It translates to "We're no strangers to love You know the rules, and so do I"
    • It translates to "We're no strangers to love You know the rules, and so do I"

      Really? Then is this all some kind of late April Fools joke?

      Why would they be rick-rolling us?

    • by crossal (521746)
      Long Live Rick Astley
    • i think what they meant was 0111011101100101 0010000001100001 0111001001100101 0010000001110100 0110010101101000 0010000001100111 0110000101111001 0010000100001101 0000101001011010 0100111101001101 0100011101000110 0101010001010111
    • by wowbagger (69688) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:14PM (#28253597) Homepage Journal

      Think about it: there are numerous folks on places like /. that would never DREAM of visiting a page like this under normal circumstances.

      However, let one geek work out what that binary is and post it, and suddenly a large fraction of those folks will thunder over there to confirm it for themselves.

      AAAAANNNNNND, those folks will be amused, and thus will be in a more receptive frame of mind to accept the sales pitch.

      • by bwindle2 (519558)
        Sales pitch? I Googled the translated phrase.. turns out I got Rick Rolled via binary.
        • by wowbagger (69688)

          The binary isn't the sales pitch. The binary is the means to get the reluctant to visit their site. Once there, the sales pitch begins.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Killer Orca (1373645)
      Am I the only person who doesn't browse by viewing pages' HTML?
  • This won't be launched internationally. right? :-p

    I mean, then they'd risk competing with piracy at large, and it seems like they prefer pissing people off instead to get their way in that area. :p

  • Lionsgate (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kenp2002 (545495) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:19PM (#28253671) Homepage Journal

    Oh great Lionsgate is involved. That means 99.9995% of the content will be crap. .0001% will be decent and .0004% will do nicely in overseas markets when put on DVD.

    A "Polished Turd" will stink up the basket no matter how many flowers you put in the basket with it....

  • Protip: This is unrelated to the Samsung Epix (i907) cellphone.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Monday June 08, 2009 @02:42PM (#28254061) Journal

    "The main downside of course is if your cable company decides not to plug this service in you will have no way to subscribe."

    So, about half the internet population heaves a sigh and says to themselves, "well, I guess I'll just have to go back to torrenting".

    • "The main downside of course is if your cable company decides not to plug this service in you will have no way to subscribe."

      So, about half the internet population heaves a sigh and says to themselves, "well, I guess I'll just have to go back to torrenting".

      When would you stop torrenting?

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        When would you stop torrenting?

        Do you want the smart-ass answer or the serious answer?

        The smart-ass answer involves seeding percentages.

        The serious answer depends upon when traditional delivery channels resume being reliable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by roc97007 (608802)

        I'd like to think that one would stop torrenting the moment a reasonable substitute becomes available at a reasonable price.

        Potential providers have to realize what their competition is. Common codecs that play in many different players on practically every platform. Total lack of DRM (or total DRM transparency). High quality video and sound. A huge, easily searchable library of immediately available content. Seamless integration into your media center.

        What legal services I've seen so far are:

        Mo

        • by jedidiah (1196)

          Is MCE really this bad at playing stuff through netflix?

          Hell, it's not that much farther from what you are describing to just plain running
          Internet Exploder in MythTV through wine in order to get to that sort of content.

          • by roc97007 (608802)

            Caveat: I'm still using Windows XP Media Center Edition. After reading reports about DRM, performance, media and network issues with Vista, I decided to wait for Windows 7. Parenthetically, if rumors turn out to be true and Windows 7 media center won't work with third party codecs, that's an automatic fail and I'll then be looking at MythTV and it's ilk.

            So anyway, it's not that MCE is bad at playing video-on-demand. MCE (at least the XP version) has no awareness of the service. There just isn't any

  • by yawn9 (848734)
    I use DirecTV as my TV service. Even if they add this channel (they wont because it competes with pay per view), they would use it as another reason to raise my bill. I also wouldn't be able to use the online streaming, as a techie with other options is obviously not going to use satellite Internet.
  • Finally we can play Lunar Outpost again?

    Oh... not that Epyx. Nevermind.

  • New HD Movies!! Yay!!

    Well, just the PPV for them but you know, online..

    Oh..

    Right before they go to DVD

    Oh..

    And only if your cable company subscribes to this..

    Oh..

    So if I already have cable with PPV, why do I need this again? Is it that the cable companies who do sign up wont have these available as regular PPV? I doubt it..

    This is stupid in too many ways..

    Aborting/Retry/Fail (Y) to all.

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