Screenblast retooled

Sony site signing on as subscription service

Sony is revamping Screenblast, its pioneering online content-creation site, launching a premium subscription service today that targets mass-market auds.

Screenblast debuted in fall 2001, directly selling packages of music- and video-editing software through high-speed online connections to an audience the company expected would largely consist of media-savvy 18- to 24-year-olds getting a start in the movie or music biz with do-it-yourself projects.

Instead, audience demographics have been much broader and much less ambitious. People 16 to 55 largely use the site to create personal projects and share them with family and friends, said Andrew Schneider, the service’s senior VP and general manager.

Last year, the service started selling boxed versions of its music and video software through retail and online channels and preloaded in Sony computer systems. People with slower Internet connections, still the largest percentage of Net users, can now use the service as well.

Now Sony is offering Screenblast as both a free trial version and a subscription service with greater online storage and access to more music, video and stills tied to Sony properties. The subscription service will initially be offered at $49.95 annually before eventually jumping to $89.95.

“It’s a one-stop, complete online solution for creating and sharing digital media with a touch of Hollywood,” Schneider said. “We’ve circled around people creating media and sharing it with those most important to them.”

Sony isn’t releasing key information like the site’s financials or number of users, but Schneider said the service fits Sony’s long-term plans for building online services that tie together its electronics side and its studio and music side.

The shift is the latest move by a big media company to wring more dollars out of the maturing market for online content.

Among others, Yahoo! just launched its Platinum subscription service, and RealNetworks is moving into the wireless world with a package of content from big media outlets.