Interactive mini-movie site Multipathmovies.com has abandoned selling its work on a subscription basis in favor of syndication through other sites that will show the movies for free.
“This product is a new model for the Internet and we have been testing a variety of new business and marketing models over the past two years,” said Kevin Bermeister, president of Multipathmovies.com’s parent Brilliant Digital Entertainment, Los Angeles. “We had trials for a very long time with pay-per-view and then we moved to subscription; with subscription we also tested a number of encrypted CD-ROM models, and finally we now move to free-to-air syndication.”
Multipath movies are 3-D digitally animated mini-movies that allow viewers to choose scene changes and manipulate images with special effects like disco lights, wire framing and bubble distortion. Parent company Brilliant Digital Entertainment Inc. had been charging subscribers $8.95 for twelve weeks of access to the mini-movie, but found the model unprofitable.
Michael Yanover, vice president of the animation group for Shockwave.com, a Webcasting entertainment site that uses the syndication model successfully but has never delved into subscription, feels that multipathmovies.com’s decision does not necessarily reflect a growing trend in the Webcasting industry. “It is hard to tell — now — what may work in the future,” said Yanover. “It may be that this site went into subscription before it was really feasible. If you were trying to offer pay-per-view in the 60s, it was not going to sell. The future models of marketing a Webcast and selling it through the Internet may include those which people have abandoned only to return to them when the technology and the public are more savvy.”
As part of the decision to drop its subscriber program, multipathmovies.com has delayed, by nearly a month, the debut of the first Webcast of a free viewer participatory 3-D made-for-the-Web animated series, Kiss Immortals, based on and made in collaboration with the famous rock band.
“Within a month, when Kiss Immortals debuts, all of our 3-D animated series will be free to all viewers,” said Bermeister. “We have found it much more profitable to market and make available our product through affiliation with other networked sites in Internet syndication.”
Affiliate sites that will carry Multipath movies when Kiss Immortals hits the Net are entertaindom.com, kissonline.com, VH1.com, and the Road Runner and [email protected] broadband services. Bermeister expects at least 25 sites will be carrying the Kiss Immortals series when it debuts Feb. 29. All future affiliate sites will Webcast the Multipath movies, share advertising and feature personalized direct marketing on viewer Web pages.
“We analyzed the business plans and found that trying to attract traffic to our own Web site would be a very costly exercise, in addition to the high cost incurred by the production of content,” said Bermeister. “The syndication model was appealing because we effectively work with partner Web sites to distribute and market our content.”
To view the Multipath movies, consumers must download the free Brilliant Digital Projector, a 3-D player that features viewer interactivity through scene selection, digital distortion and effects. Consumers are then invited to subscribe to the site by entering their e-mail address to receive a user name and password to gain access to a personalized Web page. The pages are updated weekly and feature targeted advertising, 3-D animated shorts, mini-movies, and individual character previews, featuring classics such as Popeye, Superman and Web-only series’ like Gravity Angels.