Epix, the new premium cable network that has Hollywood waiting with anticipation, has offered a few sneak peeks at its online portal EpixHD. When the TV channel launches this Fall (with the full support of Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM), subscribers can also find content on this web-based destination. Think of it as Hulu-meets-HBO. Georg Szalai at The Hollywood Reporter, was one of the journalists to take EpixHD for a spin. From his report:
If users want to own the film DVD, the EpixHD.com beta allows them to connect to Amazon.com or Ebay with an easy click. Epix can even make money that way as Amazon’s affiliate program pays a referral fee, explained [Epix chief digital officer Emil] Rensing.
For the social-networking generation, a button allows users to say “I like this movie,” and Rensing said his team is working on integration features with popular networking sites.
How do people find the movie they want? The site allows users to search for films by genre, most popular, newest added and collections. The category “classics,” for example, brought up such films as “Rain Main,” “King Kong,” “Serpico,” “Fatal Attraction” and “Raging Bull.”
Rensing said by giving consumers different ways to look for content, his team wants to offer browsing as well as discovery opportunities.
One of the most-discussed Epix online features is surely the “watch with friends” button that allows users to e-mail a link to up to four people, even if they are not Epix subscribers, so they can watch a movie together. In case of such a “private screening,” the inviting user controls when the film plays, and the friends can send each other comments. Via the planned Facebook and Twitter integrations, EpixHD.com could allow users to let the first four friends who sign up join them in a private screening, Rensing said.
Is Epix not concerned that people will watch too many movies for free this way? Like his CEO Mark Greenberg likes to do, Rensing pointed out that people can also gather friends at their apartment to watch a boxing match on pay-per-view without anyone being worried.
Meanwhile, Epix has begun signing up some indie participants, most recently Samuel Goldwyn Films.