Warner Bros., more than any of the other major studios, is making serious plays at dominance in the realm of digital distribution. In February, they were the first studio to offer “App Editions” of their movies on iPad, iPhones, and iPod Touch. The following month they offered their movies for rental via Facebook. Now the company has sent out a press release announcing that they’ve bought social networking site Flixster, which in turn means they’ve bought critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes since RT was bought by Flixster last January.
So why did Warner Bros. buy Flixster? Because it’s yet another platform Warner Bros. can use to distribute their movies digitally. Hit the jump for more details.
Per the press release:
“Under the terms of the deal, Flixster will continue to operate independently and will expand its services beyond movie discovery to enable digital content ownership and delivery across any connected digital device.”
So look at it this way: Flixster looks at the movies you like and recommends The Dark Knight (because you probably haven’t seen it). Now that Warner Bros. owns Flixster, the plan is to make the movie available for download on your handheld device or desktop computer.
Warner Bros is also “a founding member of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), which is launching UltraViolet™ this year. UltraViolet will provide cloud-based storage and give consumers the ability to watch digital entertainment across multiple platforms such as connected TVs, PCs, game consoles and smartphones.”
Personally, I wouldn’t name my movie service after an awful sci-fi movie, but that’s just me. The larger point is that Warner Bros. is making seriously smart moves in regards to its digital presence. There’s clearly an understanding at the studio that consumers are moving away from physical media like Blu-ray and DVDs and to a digital model that allows them to watch their favorite movies anywhere, anytime.
I have two concerns about this purchase. One concern is that it may shut out other studios from UltraViolet and Flixster. I’m not sure how crazy Warner Bros.’ competitors will be to put their movies on a service that gives a percentage back to Warner Bros. Then again, all the studios managed to embrace Blu-ray even though the format is owned by Sony.
My other concern expands past Warner Bros. because all of the studios will most likely move to digital distribution. I’m concerned that cinephiles will be left behind and we’ll move backwards to the age of laserdisc where only the wealthy movie-lover can get a complete package of special features while the majority of consumers will be happy simply to get the movie.
Here’s the full press release:
WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT GROUP TO ACQUIRE FLIXSTER
COMPANY WILL CONTINUE TO OPERATE INDEPENDENTLY AND SERVE AS CONSUMER-FACING PLATFORM FOR WARNER BROS.’ INITIATIVES TO DRIVE DIGITAL CONTENT OWNERSHIP
ACQUISITION INCLUDES POPULAR “ROTTEN TOMATOES” MOVIE REVIEW SITE
BURBANK, Calif., May 4, 2011 – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group today announced an agreement to acquire Flixster, a highly popular movie discovery application company with over 25 million worldwide users per month. The acquisition also includes Rotten Tomatoes, a top website devoted to film reviews, information and news. Under the terms of the deal, Flixster will continue to operate independently and will expand its services beyond movie discovery to enable digital content ownership and delivery across any connected digital device.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group will utilize the powerful Flixster brand and technical expertise to launch a number of initiatives designed to grow digital content ownership, including the recently announced consumer application “Digital Everywhere.” This studio-agnostic application will be the ultimate destination for consumers to organize and access their entire digital library from anywhere on the device of their choice, as well as to share recommendations and discover new content. The Flixster acquisition and “Digital Everywhere,” combined with the Studio’s support of the UltraViolet format are all part of an overall strategy to give consumers even more freedom, utility and value for their digital purchases.
“Driving the growth of digital ownership is a central, strategic focus for Warner Bros.,” said Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and Office of the President, Warner Bros. Entertainment. “The acquisition of Flixster will allow us to advance that strategy and promote initiatives that will help grow digital ownership.”
Flixster is currently the number one movie discovery application on mobile platforms with over 35 million downloads to date, including Android, Blackberry and iPad, and ranks among the most downloaded of all iPhone apps. Rotten Tomatoes is one of the most trusted and influential brands in movie reviews with over 12 million unique visitors per month. Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes will remain fully independent. The Flixster team will stay in San Francisco and the Rotten Tomatoes team will continue to work autonomously in Los Angeles.
“We’re thrilled that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group shares our vision for how ‘anytime, anywhere’ digital entertainment can become an amazing user experience,” said Joe Greenstein, co-founder and CEO of Flixster. “We’re excited that Warner was willing to make this kind of commitment to a leading independent consumer platform. We look forward to working with Warner as well as each of the other studios to innovate and build products that users will love.”
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group has been the consistent change leader in the home entertainment arena. It is a founding member of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), which is launching UltraViolet™ this year. UltraViolet will provide cloud-based storage and give consumers the ability to watch digital entertainment across multiple platforms such as connected TVs, PCs, game consoles and smartphones. And as the market leader in video-on-demand and electronic sell-through, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group recently became the first studio to distribute films directly to consumers via apps on Apple’s iOS platform and Facebook.
About Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group (WBHEG) brings together Warner Bros. Entertainment’s home video, digital distribution, interactive entertainment, technical operations and anti-piracy businesses in order to maximize current and next-generation distribution scenarios. An industry leader since its inception, WBHEG oversees the global distribution of content through packaged goods (Blu-ray Disc and DVD) and digital media in the form of electronic sell-through and video-on-demand via cable, satellite, online and mobile channels, and is a significant developer and publisher for console and online video game titles worldwide. WBHEG distributes its product through third party retail partners and licensees, as well as directly to consumers through WBShop.com.
Founded in 2006 and based in San Francisco, Flixster Inc. operates the world’s most popular movie communities, used by more than 25 million people every month. Flixster services include destination websites at Flixster.com and RottenTomatoes.com, as well as leading apps on Facebook, MySpace, iGoogle, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android-powered devices. Flixster’s communities provide the most comprehensive movie information online – including a database of over 250,000 movies; 2.3 billion user reviews; 500,000 critic reviews; and over 35,000 trailers and videos. Flixster has offices in New York and representatives in Los Angeles and Seattle.