A new premium VOD service launches today with a novel technological solution for studios interested in accelerating the release of movies into the home, but eager to do so without angering exhibitors.
Row8 has built an on-demand video service that’s both secure and geographically aware. Its technology allows distributors to make a film available for consumers to stream in their living rooms within weeks of it disappearing from the neighborhood megaplex.
“We can allow a distributors to tailor their in-home release pattern to play off theatrical,” said Row8 CEO John Calkins. “The curtain goes down on one, it goes up on the other. It’s very different than a traditional one-size-fits-all theatrical release.”
Row8’s technology allows for what geeks call geo-blocking, or technology that restricts access to internet content based on geography.
A film’s distributor can block availability to a movie like Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom or Deadpool 2 in certain locations (not dissimilar to a game blackout for broadcasters), or provide a share of the proceeds to exhibitors for home viewing that occurs within a certain radius of locations where it’s playing on movie screens.
“For for those locations still playing a film, consumers within 10 miles or five miles of that theater, it won’t be available that week, while it’s still on screen,” said Calkins, who has unique perspective on this market as a former executive of AMC Theaters and head of digital distribution for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
Row8 uses the consumer’s address or internet address, together with a map of exhibitor locations, to determine whether a film can streamed into a particular home. It also tracks where films are on screen.
Calkins said the service would allow studios to better capitalize on the awareness built around a film’s theatrical release campaigns, by making a movie available in the home closer to its debut. It’ll also energize video-on-demand spending, which dropped nearly 7% to $1.9 billion last year.
Exhibitors, meanwhile, would benefit from a more thoughtful and tailored home release strategy.
The service launches in partnership with German production powerhouse Constantin Film, which has released 39 of the 100 most successful German films of the last 15 years.
“We are excited to be among the first to provide films to the Row8 service, and believe the time is right in the market for the consumer to have accelerated access to great theatrical films without compromising the upside to filmmakers or the risk of being lost in a subscription video-on-demand bundle,” said Constantin CEO Martin Moszkowicz.