Every April, the city of Austin explodes into a rush of crowds dodging from tech event to film screening to music performance (to barbeque) as part of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. As Link TV’s Director of New Media I occasionally have to make the personal sacrifice of braving the crowds to keep Link TV on top of the latest tech trends. This has paid off through the many partnerships that were created last year that are now a part of our new project ViewChange.org.
At Link we’re often asked why not all of our programming is available online. It’s because we are largely an acquisitions broadcaster, which means that instead of only creating original programming, we often license the best content available from other countries around the world. These documentary and film rights are usually sold piece by piece to cable, satellite, and online, as well as “territory” by territory. That last point is why, for instance, Hulu is not available outside the US, and the BBC iPlayer is not available in the US. The rights have been carved up and sold to different regions and different platforms.
Because SXSW is a unique combination of film and technology, several panels dealt with the topic of online distribution. Industry icons Mark Cuban (owner of HDNet, Magnolia Pictures, Landmark Cinemas and the Dallas Mavericks) and Avner Ronen (owner of Boxee, a free media center application which will soon have Link TV programming) are notorious for their outspokenness, and together are also known for a public spat they had last year, which continued throughout the session, with Cuban arguing for cable- and satellite-based on-demand services, which are profitable, and Ronen pushing for online distribution.
|Hands up if you watch Hulu: Cuban and Ronen panel at SXSW|
Monday marked the public launch of AnyClip, a movie quote service which allows visitors to search for any scene from “any film” (caveat: they have indexed thousands of films, but not all films). After their successful private launch at TechCrunch last year, they were forced to reexamine the idea that they would be able to present actual video clips for their entire quote library online. This was an initial criticism I had for the site. The same rights restrictions that limit Link TV’s site are in play for AnyClip, and until they can guarantee a certain dollar figure in revenue to the studios, they will have to rely on text-only quotes.
|AnyClip's vice president of product and technology Nate Westheimer|
Homing in on this feature could be lucrative for them, if they can partner with technology platforms like Blu-ray to provide quick search within films, or with other streaming services with larger libraries who would find the search tools useful. For instance, in another SXSW panel Peter Becker (Criterion) asked, “Why can’t you type ‘You know how to whistle don’t you?’ into Netflix and get the exact scene from To Have and Have Not?” If Netflix partnered with Anyclip, that could happen. But deeper than that, users can tag scenes with descriptions, for instance “Rocky training montage” or “When Harry Met Sally orgasm scene.”
Deeper than that, you can also find, for instance, all the scenes from boxing movies that involve trainer-athlete relationships. That could be a great tool for discovery, or displaying related content. AnyClip probably wouldn’t advocate this, but the potential for mash-up artists to create the ultimate, say, cross-movie training montage is fantastic. Now that there are multiple potential revenue models for AnyClip, they might find some more traction in the industry.
Read more about AnyClip at VentureBeat.
That’s it for tech right now. Up next: Film.