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MPAA's Entry into Program Guide Biz Is an Anti-Piracy Move

WhereToWatch.com, a program-listing website run by the Motion Picture Association of America, re-debuted this week.  Beyond its ostensible purpose of helping viewers find out where they can see movies and TV shows, the service is intended to steer customers to paid locations, including cable networks and online video sources.  MPAA believes that making it easier to find "legitimate" content sources will help battle the piracy scourge.

This week's listings include programs such as HBO GO's Criminal Justice, True Detective, Girls and The Leftovers, Starz' Power, Disney Channel's Girl Meets World, NBC's Running Wild with Bear Grylls and Fox's Cosmos broadcast TV series. NBC's Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is also on the roster.  MPAA said that the program line-up "will continue to grow as we add availabilities to the site."

WTW leads viewers to locations where they can purchase or stream movies and TV shows, such as Amazon, iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and Flixster.  It also points them to cable-related sources such as Bravo Now, CNBC Full Episodes, E! Now, Esquire TV Now, Oxygen Now, Sprout Now, SyFy Now, ABC, ABC Family, Disney Movies Anywhere and Sundance Now.  Most of those streaming offshoots of cable networks are subsidiaries of MPAA member studios, such as Time-Warner, Comcast's NBCUniversal and Disney.

WhereToWatch.com  replaces a similar MPAA service WhereToWatch.org, which debuted last year.

The site does not offer full TV listings, but there is a "Set TV Alert" function , powered by GoWatchIt which allows viewers to request notification when a show or movie will appear on a TV channel. The WTW site also includes trailers and links to behind-the-scene features. 

In launching WTW, MPAA cited a recent KPMG study that found 94% of the biggest theatrical hit titles are available to watch legally online. 

Contributor Gary Arlen is known for his insights into the convergence of media, telecom, content and technology. Gary was founder/editor/publisher of Interactivity Report, TeleServices Report and other influential newsletters; he was the longtime “curmudgeon” columnist for Multichannel News as well as a regular contributor to AdMap, Washington Technology and Telecommunications Reports. He writes regularly about trends and media/marketing for the Consumer Technology Association's i3 magazine plus several blogs. Gary has taught media-focused courses on the adjunct faculties at George Mason University and American University and has guest-lectured at MIT, Harvard, UCLA, University of Southern California and Northwestern University and at countless media, marketing and technology industry events. As President of Arlen Communications LLC, he has provided analyses about the development of applications and services for entertainment, marketing and e-commerce.