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Online Retailer Overstock.com to Launch OTT Service This Year

MIAMI — Salt Lake City-based Overstock.com will launch an over the top content service by mid-year that aims to take advantage of the discount retailer’s Internet and mobile traffic.

Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne said the service will launch by midyear with a download-to-own and download-to-rent service. The goal is to launch a subscription streaming service by the second half of the year, or what Byrne called a “skinny Netflix” with a limited number of titles.

Byrne said the company is in the midst of setting a partnership with an outside company that already has rights to content from the major networks and studios though he would not disclose specifics. He said the initial service would have about 30,000 titles at the start, more weighted to film than TV at the start.

Access would be tied to Overstock.com’s “Club O” loyalty program that costs users $20 a year. The pricetag for the SVOD service would likely be higher, he said.

Byrne said Overstock.com ranks as the Internet’s No. 2 “mass merchant” behind Amazon. Despite the avalanche of new entrants in the content biz, Byrne asserted that the entertainment biz “wants to see a competitor to Amazon for across-the-board digital distribution.”

Overstock.com said it averages 30 million visitors a month, with much of that coming from mobile users. Execs said they see content as a way to help make its app more of a “destination” for consumers.

Byrne made the announcement on the opening day of the NATPE programming conference that runs through Thursday at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

Overstock.com has big ambition for the service to eventually expand into original programming. Byrne said he and other execs are attending the NATPE confab in order “to deepen our relationships in this industry.” Byrne also noted that the company is in talks to be the center of a reality TV show revolving around the company.

Byrne emphasized that Overstock.com has had business relationships with the Hollywood majors for years through its sales of DVDs and other merchandise.

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