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MovieStop Launches Digital Platform With UltraViolet

18 Sep, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Buy, sell, trade retailer partners with FlixFling.com, which ups proprietary cloud-based locker with DECE approval

MovieStop is bowing a digital platform offering consumers electronic sales access to movies and TV shows — many with UltraViolet functionality.

The Atlanta-based chain of 44 stores in 10 states has for more than a decade operated a buy, sell, trade business model gleaned from its days as a subsidiary of video game retailer GameStop. It is partnering with Philadelphia-based in the joint digital venture.

FlixFling operates a cloud-based digital locker featuring third-party independent movies. It just signed an agreement with the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, which oversees UltraViolet — the industry-backed (sans Disney) digital locker that promotes sellthrough and supports a range of file formats, encryption methods and connected devices.

MovieStop and FlixFling join a growing trend among retailers marketing digital (and physical) content stored in the cloud. Brick-and-mortar and digital platforms selling content with UltraViolet functionality include Best Buy’s CinemaNow, Walmart’s Vudu.com, Warner’s Flixster.com, M-Go, Barnes & Noble’s Nook.com and Kaleidescape.com, among others.

UltraViolet has more than 15 million registered accounts, according to the DECE.

Going forward, MovieStop consumers who purchase content with UltraViolet functionality will be able to redeem the digital access at FlixFling. The partnership affords FlixFling greater access to major studio movies while giving MovieStop a digital option.

“The deal allows us to turbo charge the whole UltraViolet initiative,” said FlixFling founder and CEO Tom Ashley. “It exposes us to all of MovieStop customers. We view them as the ideal partner.”

To get the word out, MovieStop — at the store level — will promote FlixFling as a digital locker for all UV-compatible titles, according to co-founder and CEO Russ Howard. Store personnel will explain and introduce UltraViolet to the consumer.

Howard said MovieStop’s strength is sales of new-release movies on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, which he said hovers around 70% penetration on street date. The executive said the chain has sold more than 86,000 unique titles throughout the years.

“The studios see that our sellthrough percentage for UV-licensed product is higher than anyone else in the industry,” Howard said.

That said, the CEO said consumer awareness and understanding of UltraViolet remains suspect, especially at the retail level. By offering a digital platform, Howard believes MovieStop will be able to better educate consumers about UltraViolet, while driving incremental revenue.

“Our managers can hold the hand of consumers and say, ‘Here’s how you do it,’” Howard said. “We see it as bridging the gap between physical product today and the digital world of the future. There’s a big chunk of the consumer that is really lost about UV.”

Plans include inserting flyers about the joint venture in disc packaging, according to Ashley.

Cloud-based Storage for Indies Goes UltraViolet

FlixFling has in recent years offered a $7.99 monthly streaming option, in addition to transactional VOD from a library featuring thousands of independent movies.

The site features a proprietary (non-UV) cloud-based digital locker called “myFlix” that allowed users to access indies via connected devices. Sellthrough titles available to stream indefinitely at no additional charge through the locker. The revamped FlixFling website now offers digital sellthrough (and rental) of major studio titles — the former with UV functionality.

A FlixFling app is available at The App Store, Roku, Google Play, Windows 8, Vizio, LG and Samsung Apps, with Xbox and other connected devices coming online early in January 2014.

Howard said MovieStop intends to mine its extensive consumer data on sales and trade of both new and catalog releases to help FlixFling curate its content offerings and better target consumers via specific content channels.

The executive, who said he connected with Ashley via the LinkedIn networking site, sought a digital partner whose priority wasn’t rental or streaming — major sticking points with studios.

The executive said MovieStop tries to emulate GameStop’s formula of melding consumers with appropriate game consoles and software that fit their needs and interests. In home video, the CEO said consumers have been bombarded with hype about Netflix and SVOD — a reality, he said that ignores the fact Netflix is largely a TV channel.

“For the past two years, we’ve struggled to say, ‘Well, Netflix isn’t exclusively great for everybody,’” Howard said.

At the same time, there appears to be a disconnect with UltraViolet for the average consumer, Howard said. By partnering with FlixFling, and backed by major studios and independents, the CEO believes MovieStop can bridge that gap while remaining cognizant of market changes.

“We want to satisfy the consumer’s needs and put them where they want to be [with home entertainment],” Howard said.


About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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