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Epix: Xbox Marks the Spot

In less than two months since launching
on the Xbox 360, Epix’s video-streaming app has been
downloaded more than 1.25 million times — proving the
power of TV-connected devices as a
way to reach viewers, according to the
premium network.

Epix launched on the Xbox the week
of Dec. 6, as part of the game console’s
interface overhaul (see “Microsoft Talks
Up Xbox’s TV Game,” Dec. 12, 2011). The app provides free shortform
content, as well as a way for users
who subscribe to Epix through their pay
TV provider to sign in and watch more
than 3,000 full-length movies and other

In addition, the Epix app invites consumers
to try a free, 14-day trial — even
if their provider doesn’t offer the channel.
That’s letting the network build a
database of interested customers, so
that if and when it cuts a deal with, say,
Comcast or Time Warner Cable, Epix
can reach out to those prospects to let them know.

“This gives us the opportunity to introduce the Epix
brand to consumers outside our footprint, in anticipation
of us landing deals” with other operators, Epix chief of staff
Nora Ryan said. “It’s an entirely new marketing opportunity.”

The premium movie service, owned by Paramount Pictures,
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate, has about 10
million subscribers. Epix is available to 30 million homes
through Charter Communications, Cox Communications,
Dish Network, Verizon FiOS TV, Mediacom Communications,
the NCTC and Suddenlink Communications.

Most of the 1.25 million downloads were by casual browsers,
but more than 20% of users have registered and activated
the app, primarily with the 14-day free trial, Epix general
manager of digital media Andy Hunter said.

“The engagement is phenomenal,” he said. The
time spent on the Xbox app is on par with cable
video-on-demand services, with users watching
an average of four movies per month. “They’re
watching most of the movie [on Xbox], whereas
online, on, they watch just part of
a movie.”

Epix has launched a channel on the Roku broadband
set-top, too, and has seen a similar 20% activation
rate among users and time spent viewing,
Ryan said.

Since Epix launched on Xbox, the number of
subscribers who have registered for online authentication
has doubled. (The network would
not disclose how many subs have signed up for authenticated
access through the Xbox or other devices,
citing affiliate agreements.)

Epix plans to offer certain content for free on
Xbox, Roku and online as a customer-acquisition
tool. For example, starting Feb. 3, the network will
make the one-man comedy special Kevin Smith Burn in
available to nonsubscribers across multiple platforms.