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UPDATE: AOL Broadband Offers Free MovieFlix VOD

12 Jun, 2003 By: Joan Villa

Called “Theater B,” the service started last week with a “Three Stooges” theme to mark the comedians' 75th anniversary. One of three Stooges short films -- Brideless Groom, Disorder in the Court and Malice in the Palace -- will play free each week. July will continue with “sci-fi cinema” month, offering Monster From Green Hell, Teenagers From Outer Space, The Crawling Eye and Rocketship X-M.

“We know that what drives a lot of broadband adoption are features such as film clips, trailers and music downloads,” said Steven Yee, VP and GM of AOL Movies.

The feature is part of AOL's “value proposition” to its broadband subscribers -- between 3 million and 4 million -- who automatically get CNN News and other free services, he said. Yee declined to say how many people AOL anticipates will actually watch, but a test last fall that offered free streaming of a selection of MovieFlix's Halloween and Christmas movies showed there's “good demand,” he added.

For its part, MovieFlix hopes the multiyear agreement will bring more visibility to its service, which normally costs $5.95 per month for unlimited movie streaming of a 3,000-title library consisting primarily of independent, classic and public-domain films, said co-founder Robert Moskovits. “Practically speaking, it's great for us because it helps us to get more traffic,” he said.

While MovieFlix has negotiated rights with independent producers to stream movies in a pay-per-view window, it has not signed on with major studios for streaming big-budget films primarily because studios are asking for upfront license fees as high as $2 million, he said.

“If you're going to write a check for $2 million or $1 million, you better make sure you're at least going to break even,” Moskovits said.

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