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Free Docs Gain Wider Reach Online with Hulu/Snag Pact

Free Docs Gain Wider Reach Online with Hulu/Snag Pact

A deal announced today will bring some of SnagFilms’ 600 film library of documentaries to popular U.S. online video destination Hulu.com, the companies said today. Hulu, owned primarily by NBC Universal and News Corp., streams movies and TV shows for free and, like Snag, monetizes its content via embedded commercials.

“SnagFilms was created to make more great films available to the broadest possible audience,” said Snag CEO Rick Allen, in a statement today. He added that the deal would, “deepen the already broad set of entertainment choices that Hulu offers.”

The partnership is offering ten Snag docs to Hulu users for free immediately, including “Confessions of a Superhero,” “Cracked Not Broken,” “Dig,” “Farther than the Eye can See,” “Haze!,” “Into the Tsangpo Gorge,” “Keeper of the Kohn,” “Kicking It,” “Super Size Me,” and “Impaler.” Additional titles will be added on a regular basis.

The notion of “free” was a common topic at the crowded SXSW Interactive conference this year, from IMDb founder Col Needham’s mantra of “a play button on every page” to closing keynote conversation participant Chris Anderson (“The Long Tail”), who talked about his new book, “Free.”

At panels and in private conversations, the “Free” concept stirred discussion, and some debate, as filmmakers in particular ponder the best path to producing new revenue streams from the digital marketplace. Remarks by filmmaker Morgan Spurlock spurred the conversation about the size of revenue and audience available online, but most agreed that the market is still in a nascent stage, whether for films offered for free or those sold via leading online marketplace, iTunes.

“Free is the best way to maximize your reach,” preached Chris Anderson at SXSW this week, adding that he will give away a version of his new book gratis when it is released later this year. He was challenged by venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki who questioned the free model.

“Critical to SnagFilms’ approach from the beginning has been a desire to expose the broadest possible audience to the greatest number of quality films,” noted Snag’s Rick Allen today, “Free viewing is important to encourage exploration among an audience that often will have little or no prior knowledge of a documentary.”

DISCLOSURE: indieWIRE is owned by SnagFilms

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