Pix don’t click but niche pays

Alternative content pulls in coin for Movielink, CinemaNow

Movielink isn’t just for movies anymore.

In a quiet but significant shift, the studio-owned Internet video-on-demand company and its major competitor, CinemaNow, have found the fastest-growing parts of their business aren’t studio movies, but alternative content like TV shows and anime.

Movielink has seen its library grow from just 3.5% nontheatrical titles a year ago to 20%. CinemaNow sells double the nontheatrical content it did a year ago.

Studio movies remain the core offering for both companies, but alternative content may better help to grow their businesses. Consider:

  • Movies are still available on DVD before they are available online.

  • Few consumers have home networks that let them watch downloaded movies on TV, the way they are used to seeing them.

  • Unlike features, most alternative content isn’t available at Blockbuster.

Movielink’s newest content deals were for docs and Shakespeare adaptations from the BBC, anime pics from distrib Central Park Media and Asian films from Tai Seng Entertainment.

CinemaNow recently signed pacts to offer ABC News segs and reality shows like “Big Brother” from Endemol.

Of course, the more they populate their Web pages with niche content, the less these Netcos fit the “Cinema” and “Movie” in their billing.

But as both sites wait for feature downloading to go mainstream, alternative content helps them with a more practical concern: making money.

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