Epix: Xbox Marks The Spot

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In less than two months since launching on the Xbox 360, Epix's video-streaming app has been downloaded more than 1.25 million times -- proving the power of TV-connected devices as a way to reach viewers, according to the premium network.

Epix launched on the Xbox the week of Dec. 6, as part of the game console's interface overhaul. The app provides free short-form content, as well as a way for users who subscribe to Epix through their pay-TV provider to sign in and watch more than 3,000 full-length movies and other titles.

In addition, the Epix app invites consumers to try a free, 14-day trial -- even if their provider doesn't offer the channel. That's letting the network build a database of interested customers, so that if and when it does cut a deal with, say, Comcast or Time Warner Cable, Epix can reach out to those subscribers to let them know.

Epix on Xbox

"This gives us the opportunity to introduce the Epix brand to consumers outside our footprint, in anticipation of us landing deals" with other operators, Epix chief of staff Nora Ryan said. "It's an entirely new marketing opportunity."

The premium movie service, owned by Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Lionsgate, has about 10 million subscribers. Epix is available to 30 million homes through Charter Communications, Cox Communications, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS TV, Mediacom Communications, NCTC and Suddenlink Communications.

Most of the 1.25 million downloads are casual browsers, but more than 20% of users have registered and activated the app, primarily with the 14-day free trial, Epix general manager of digital media Andy Hunter said.

"The engagement is phenomenal," he said. The time spent on the Xbox app is on par with cable video-on-demand services, with users watching an average of four movies per month. "They're watching most of the movie [on Xbox], whereas online on EpixHD.com they watch just part of a movie."

Epix has launched a channel on the Roku broadband set-top, too, and has seen a similar 20% activation rate among users and time spent viewing, according to Ryan.

Since Epix launched on Xbox, the number of subscribers who have registered for online authentication has doubled. (The network would not disclose how many subs have signed up for authenticated access through the Xbox or other devices, citing affiliate agreements.)

Epix plans to offer certain content for free on Xbox, Roku and online as a customer-acquisition tool. For example, starting Feb. 3, the network will make the one-man comedy special Kevin Smith Burn in Hell available to nonsubscribers across multiple platforms.

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