EE, the mobile phone operator made up of Orange and T-Mobile, launched the first 4G movies service for the UK on Monday, providing around 600 titles including 300 new releases. Consumers can download films to mobile devices and the content is also accessible via the PC and Mac. You should be able to download a (standard definition) movie over the 4G network in around six minutes. The service is designed for the multi-screen era and will be made available via connected TV devices later.
The EE movie service, which includes the transactional EE Film store, is managed by FilmFlex, the movies on demand service provider. It is the fourth white label VOD service the company operates for a UK ‘retailer’, the others being Virgin Media, Film4oD and HMV.
According to Jeff Henry, Chief Executive of FilmFlex Movies, the key strength of the EE service will be the availability of latest release titles and this will differentiate EE Film from the subscription movie services like LOVEFiLM and Netflix. Day and date release (same availability as DVD) is now commonplace within this transactional VOD window.
Building on the Orange heritage as a partner to the film industry, EE Film combines transactional VOD and content search, cinema listings and locations and what used to be known as Orange Wednesday, the two-for-one cinema ticket offer available to mobile customers every week. FilmFlex manages all these elements for the mobile operator. Henry believes this integrated film experience could prove to be a powerful marketing tool.
“If someone is interested in a film at the cinema that is part of a series, we could offer them the older titles via VOD,” he explains. “The fact that this is a holistic film experience rather than just a movie store makes it very interesting, including how you can serve people content. It will help them to understand their consumers better.”
FilmFlex is one of the largest providers of movies on demand in Europe, having managed over 75 million movie buys since it was founded. With the white label offer, service providers/retailers can decide how much of the VOD package FilmFlex manages, including for example whether they use the company for billing.
Henry stresses the importance of multi-screen delivery and how the different screens act as part of a whole, with the ability to pause on one screen and resume on another (session shifting) providing a good example of how this benefits customers. He reckons session shifting will become particularly interesting once mobility is boosted by the 4G networks.