LGBT film distributor Wolfe Video is diving into the VOD pool with its new WolfeOnDemand.com platform, the company announced Thursday. While the move is a logical one for a company with a well-defined content brand, the initiative does throw a new wrinkle into the emerging VOD landscape: revenue sharing.
Along with making available titles from its 100-strong library (just 30 movies are accessible at launch), Wolfe has built in an affiliate structure that encourages LGBT consumers to stump for its content in exchange for commissions. By monetizing the increasingly effective social networking aspects of promotion and distribution, Wolfe is hoping to cut down on illegal file-sharing and give audiences an incentive to play clean with its films.
“This launch helps Wolfe meet the needs of our customers on a global scale,” said Wolfe founder Kathy Wolfe, who was very public in her anti-piracy stance during the SOPA debate earlier this year. “While fighting online piracy, I had the opportunity to connect with many of our fans outside the U.S., who indicated that they would not pirate films if we provided reasonably priced access to our library.”
The danger is that those unfamiliar with Wolfe or its movies will try to jump in on the financial scheme. While Wolfe may see an ends-justifies-the-means benefit in more customers, the blind, uninformed recommendations may dilute the brand’s reputation.
But Daniel T. Pereira, an MIT Communications Futures Program researcher and former managing director of the MIT CMS Convergence Culture Consortium, sees a great opportunity to amplify the fan communities that already gather around popular shows on Hulu and Netflix. “The WolfeOnDemand.com platform architecture is designed to leverage this kind of passion and community,” says Pereira, who took a look at the initiative but has no official role in it. “The site's sharing functionality coupled with a commission structure for fans to earn revenue when they share is a very innovative deployment of social media as it relates to the spread of media properties and digital download pricing. I look forward to seeing what happens with this platform and how community and sharing manifest into a monetized business model for Wolfe in the months and years ahead."
Among the first group of titles available on the service are Celine Sciama's “Tomboy,” Javier Fuentes-Leon’s “Undertow (Contracorriente),” Tom Gustafson’s “Were The World Mine,” Katherine Brooks’ “Loving Annabelle” and Jamie Babbit’s “Itty Bitty Titty Committee.” Films are available to rent or own on WolfeOnDemand.com, while the library retains a presence on Comcast, Time Warner and iTunes’ VOD services. The move comes on the heels of Wolfe establishing LGBT genre sections on YouTube Movies and Hulu.