EPIX Multi-Screen Strategy

EPIX is a a movie channel for subscription TV services including cable, satellite, and telco (such as Verizon’s FiOS). It boasts recent releases from major studios, including Paramount, Lionsgate, and MGM. But you aren’t just limited to watching the movies and other programming on your TV service when they are scheduled; EPIX is also a streaming on-demand service that lets you watch any of about 3,000 titles from its catalog whenever you want.

You can watch on your computer if you like, but the news is that the company is aggressively pursuing a multi-screen strategy. On Wednesday, the company announced the roll out of “apps for download on over one hundred consumer electronic and mobile devices including Android-powered tablets and phones from a variety of manufacturers such as Motorola, HTC and LG; Samsung TVs and Blu-Ray players; Google TV; Roku streaming players; and the BlackBerry PlayBook. ” In short, you can watch the content on a wide range of popular products.

The big difference between this and other streaming services such as Netflix is that it is free to “authenticated subscribers“. If you’re already paying for EPIX as part of your television subscription, you can access the content on these other devices. That could be a real bonus for cable and satellite users. On the other hand, it does not pose an a la carte threat to those services the way that Netflix does, because you can’t get it without the subscription. Since there are far more U.S. households with TV service subscriptions than without, they appear to be addressing the fat part of the market.

From my perspective, this strategy means that EPIX is backing the status quo. This is fine if the cable and satellite services can survive the squeeze of consumer resistance to price hikes and the pressure from the content providers for more retransmission revenues. I suspect, however, that EPIX will be nimble enough to shift over to a stand-alone model like Netflix if the authenticated user model doesn’t work out. This is a business model that is worth watching.