After Cutting Its Teeth on a direct-to-consumer, over-the-top digital movie service, FlixFling is now expanding its reach, and its revenue-driving opportunities, by seeking affiliate deals with more traditional multichannel video-programming distributors.
FlixFling has enjoyed some early success on the MVPD side, recently striking its first provider deal with Consolidated Communications, which offers video, broadband and data services in an 11-state area.
In the first phase of that partnership, CCI will promote and resell FlixFling’s subscription-based OTT video service, including some exclusive fare, to its consumer base via direct mail, TV spots and other marketing vehicles.
Down the road, the plan is for CCI to use FlixFling’s APIs (application programming interfaces) and backend infrastructure to underpin a more robust and integrated VOD-over-IP platform, Thomas Ashley, CEO of Philadelphia-based FlixFling, said.
FlixFling’s affiliate program, similar to a premium model used by other programmers, is a revenue-share arrangement with the MVPD partner.
ONLY THE BEGINNING
And FlixFling hopes CCI represents just the start of its MVPD journey. Ashley said his company is working on a deal with the National Cable Television Cooperative that could open the door to the group’s array of independent cable operators. In the meantime, FlixFling is nearing deals with about a half-dozen other pay TV providers, he said.
FlixFling will also face some competition in this area. For instance, Evolution Digital, which recently inked an NCTC deal of its own, has launched an IP video platform called eVUE-TV that stems from its acquisition last year of IP VOD specialist i-Velozity.
Even as FlixFling moves forward, though, it’s worth looking back at its origins.
Its parent company, Invincible Pictures, has been in the movie-distribution business for about two decades, acquiring rights and distributing titles on various homeentertainment platforms, including DVD and Blu-ray.
With the market for physical media clearly in decline and the battle to secure shelf space at big box retailers becoming increasingly heated, the company saw the writing on the wall early on and began to shift its model toward digital distribution, launching FlixFling about six years ago.
As a hybrid service, FlixFling offers a mix of subscription packages and sells and rents individual titles. FlixFling’s customer base is “well over six figures,” according to Ashley.
The service supports several platforms, including Web browsers, apps for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets, the Xbox 360, Roku players, the Google Chromecast streaming adapter, and connected Vizio TVs.
Early on, the idea for FlixFling was to use digital platforms to distribute its own titles, but other distributors experiencing similar pains approached the company about adding their content to the new offering.
“Initially, we were thinking about how to get our content out; we weren’t thinking about aggregating content from other buyers,” Ashley said.
FILLING ITS LOCKER
FlixFling, early to the market with the notion of a cloud-based “digital locker” (an approach that’s key to the UltraViolet system), has been amassing its library and its distribution rights ever since. Ashley estimated that FlixFling now has rights to a catalog approaching 30,000 titles, though not all of them are available on the system at the moment.
On the content side, FlixFling made a recent, key expansion in the form of a five-year multiscreen video deal with Vubiquity, an agreement that gives the OTT service access to a broader mix of movies and TV shows.
It’s also closing in on a deal with Music Choice, the multiplatform service that is partnered up with several of the nation’s largest MVPDs. The plan there, is to integrate Music Choice — including 75 streaming music channels, 25 streaming video channel and a library of more than 20,000 VOD music videos — with its core subscription service, which costs $7.99 per month, Ashley said.
Further out, FlixFling hopes to offer Music Choice on some of its other subscription services — FlixFling’s other packages include CineFest ($4.99 per month) and Dox, KidsFlix and FrightFlix (all $2.99 per month).
And while forging pay TV deals is now a key part of FlixFling’s growth strategy, it is still expanding its direct-to-consumer capabilities. It was a launch partner for Amazon’s new Streaming Partners Program, which offers subscription packages from partners such as Showtime, Starz and CuriosityStream, to Prime members.
For now, FlixFling has no interest in becoming a virtual MVPD and offering live, multichannel services, as Sling TV and PlayStationVue do today.
“My personal opinion is that the linear experience is going to become irrelevant in the future,” Ashley said. “The real competition [to MVPDs] doesn’t come from over-the-top providers as much as it’s going to come from the wireless providers.”