C4 Could Struggle To Profit From Paid PC Movies

Earlier this month, Channel 4 debuted Film4oD, a movie-centric extension of its 4oD TV catch-up brand.

The model – 48-hour rentals from 50p to £3.99 – is eerily reminiscent of the original strategy which 4oD itself launched in 2006. It originally charged fees for seven-day catch-up TV, a road Five followed it down before both broadcasters realised there was more success in offering free, ad-supported video.

Screen Digest analyst Tania Loeffler reckons Film4oD could be in for the same fate…

“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 Channel 4’s discussions with consumer electronics manufacturers to get included in connected living room devices.”

In fairness, there are going to be plenty of opportunities, going forward, for carrying a transactional VOD service on IPTV devices.