MovieBeam’s Mantra: Convenience Is King


New services built around complex technology must carry simple marketing messages. Although that mantra is uttered throughout cable, the industry’s competitors view the world the same way.

“We identified the key insights, used them in all the communications and reinforced the idea of simplicity and convenience,” said Phil Klein, vice president, marketing and product development at Buena Vista Datacasting, which has launched the MovieBeam movie service in three markets.

MovieBeam delivers Hollywood hit movies and library titles using the transmitters of PBS stations in TV markets across the country. Subscribers rent a MovieBeam receiver for $8.99 a month, which, in turn allows them to rent hit movies for $3.99 and library titles for $1.99.

The receivers are available at Sears, Best Buy and Circuit City, said Klein, who spoke at the opening session of last week’s Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit here. More than 100 movies are available each month, all through a secure delivery system.

MovieBeam grew out of The Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of Dotcast, a datacasting company formed in the late 1990s. Disney looked at the types of content in which consumers would be most interested, and movies topped the list.

“The elimination of that trip to the video store is what our service is all about,” Klein said, explaining that home video-store customers rent an average of five movies per month. That said, the technology had to be simple.

“The target is the movie lover, not the technophile,” he noted.

Moreover, MovieBeam’s promotional messages, espoused via TV, radio, print, direct mail and online vehicles, matched that theme. “It wasn’t about the technology, it was about simplicity and convenience,” said Klein.

Klein declined to discuss subscriber counts and usage rates, but did say consumers were responding to the central themes of the service: the ability to see movies without having to return them to the video stores and avoiding late fees.

“The one word they use is convenience,” he said.