Miramax’s Multi-Title Movie Rental Facebook App: A Model for Content Owners

Miramax film studios released a multi-title movie rental app this week that lets users stream any of 20 films for 48 hours in exchange for 30 Facebook Credits. Users can also earn behind the scenes clips by assigning friend’s to roles in films via wall posts.

The Miramax eXperience app, powered by Ooyala’s video technology, lacks some of the advanced social features such as timed comments and scene sharing found in Milyoni’s film rental app. However, the destination app is special because it aggregates a catalog of films rather than only serving one, and could become a model copied by other content owners including TV networks and record labels as well as other film studios.

The film studio originally planned to host the video on demand storefront on Miramax.com, but CEO Mike Lang told PaidContent the Facebook app was an attempt fish where the fish are. The app is now available with 20 films in the US, and 10 in the UK and Turkey. Purchased films can also be watched through the browser of an iPad or on Google TV. Eventually, Miramax will look to sell fil

Apps allowing users to pay for access to digital media content have sprung up this year, with Milyoni pioneering the space with its Social Theater app for The Dark Knight in March. Credits-for-content apps appeal to media producers because they allow them to generate a direct return on their social media investment rather than just conducting institutional marketing.

Milyoni publishes differently skinned versions of it’s app for each film reducing the likelihood of a single user making multiple purchases. However, the new social features in Social Theater 2.0, including the abilities publish video clips of currently watched scenes to the news feed and leave comments pegged to specific moments in a film, are superior to those in Miramax eXperience.

When users first visit Miramax’s app, they can slide between 20 popular films from the studio’s catalog including Pulp Fiction and Good Will Hunting. Rentals cost 30 Facebook Credits, or $3, per film for 30 days with a 48 hour streaming period. These are almost identical terms to Milyoni’s app. The Ooyala video player runs smoothly, automatically optimizing for definition though users can also select video quality level.

While watching users can share the app via Like and Send buttons, or by leaving a comment and opting to post it to Facebook. However, the stories posted by these social plugins aren’t likely to attract many users since they don’t cite the currently viewed film and therefore appear quite boring. The addition of live chat or timed comments, scene sharing, and richer social plugin shares could significantly increase virality, and give users a reason to rent through the app rather than elsewhere.

Some of this missed opportunity for growth will likely be made up by Casting Call, Miramax eXperience’s embedded sharing app. Users are shown popular characters from Miramax films, asked to “cast” a friend in the role. A publisher dialog encourages users to share their casting selection to the friend’s wall. To comply with Facebook’s policies against incentivized sharing, users are reward with a behind-the-scenes clip of a film of their choice for casting three friends whether they publish the wall stories or not.

By taking a multi-title approach, Miramax can translate positive encounters with its app into additional sales better than standalone Facebook apps for each film. Plus, since Miramax eXperience is linked to from the Pages of all the films it serves, there’s little lose and much to gain by offering a wide variety of content in a single app. Don’t be surprised if you soon see record labels bundling music by different artists or TV networks offering a slate of their shows in aggregated Credits-for-content Facebook apps.

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