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FlickLaunch Bows Indie VOD Service on Facebook

10 May, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Upstart FlickLaunch.com May 10 launched an ambitious transactional video-on-demand platform on Facebook that allows indie filmmakers (and studios) to rent movies to consumers and generate higher margins than traditional packaged media.

Titles, of which there is currently one (Blues from Level 33 Entertainment), rent from $1 to $4.99 for seven days and can be paid through PayPal or Facebook credits. Content can viewed on a PC or connected device, including mobile phone and tablet computer.

The Berkeley, Calif.-based service (www.flicklaunch.com) aims to surpass other indie film sites and related VOD platforms by tapping into the global size (600 million) and scope of the social media website, according to co-founder and CEO Craig Tanner.

Tanner, together with co-founder Eric Moore, an initial investor in Zappos.com and other ventures, realized that for aspiring filmmakers getting the finished product in theaters or on disc wasn’t nearly as problematic as actually making money on the film. After attending “pitch parties” thrown by filmmakers seeking investors, the two decided the best platform to connect filmmakers with consumers was through Facebook.

“Indie filmmakers were having trouble getting distribution and monetizing their content,” Tanner said. “ We saw a hole and an opportunity there.”

Connecting with Ryan Merket, a former “developer relations” manager with Facebook, the trio set about creating a platform that transcends global borders. Tanner said by linking Facebook pages (and Twitter accounts) of every person involved with an indie film (and their '"friends"), requisite traffic can be generated to create buzz for a film, which also has a Facebook page.

Revenue generated through PayPal VOD is split 70% to the filmmaker and 30% to Flicklaunch. When using Facebook credits, the filmmaker gets 50%, Facebook gets 30% and FlickLaunch gets 20%.

Tanner said the difference between FlickLaunch and Warner Bros.’ recent offering of The Dark Knight on Facebook is the service’s ability to offer more than one studio’s content portfolio. The CEO said FlickLaunch also is in discussions with a major studio to “white label” a VOD platform for its content and familiarize the studio with social media.

“It would be more of backend technology arrangement with the studios,” he said.

Tanner said that as the Facebook traffic grows, users interested in specific genres can be directed to related fare via messages and links — all of which helps drive monetization. To generate user interest in an indie film, FlickLaunch encourages filmmakers to give away VOD transactions to the first 1,000 users who “like” the film on their Facebook page.

The goal is to develop a groundswell of interest for movies virally through Facebook users and their friends. Tanner said the average Facebook user has more than 100 “friends,” a statistic that can easily generate 100,000 “friends” for a film.

“We think the sweet spot for an indie VOD transaction is $1 to $2,” he said.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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