Channel 4 has officially launched the Film4 on Demand online streaming movie service powered by FilmFlex, the Disney-Sony joint venture. The transactional service will offer new release and catalogue titles on a rental basis for a period of 48 hours, priced at between £0.50 and £3.99. Film4 on Demand is not part of the main 4oD television catch-up service, and is only accessible by going to the Film4 site. Re-vamped in January 2010, Film4.com previously only offered movie reviews and short video clips prior to the addition of the on demand service.
Film4 on Demand is expected to launch with approximately 500 titles. As would be expected, the service will feature content from Channel 4 film financing and production venture Film 4. At present, however, the number of other studios and distributors who have signed on have not been disclosed.
This is not the first time that channel 4 has offered transactional movies online. Previously they were offered as part of the broadcaster's 4oD service. However Screen Digest understands that uptake of the previous iteration was hindered by the lack of a device strategy: consumers have consistently shown themselves to be reluctant to pay for content that is restricted to the PC and not offered as part of a broader device ecosystem - over 40 online movie stores closed in Europe in 2009. In the current iteration Film4 on Demand movies are again tethered to the PC, and consequently looks set to face many of the same challenges as its predecessor and may well struggle to gain significant traction or generate incremental traffic for Film4.com. The service's best chance for success is likely to come if it can replicate the likes of TF1 and leverage Channels 4's discussions with consumer electronics manufacturers to get included in connected living room devices.