Online retailer Overstock.com is getting into the content game, announcing plans at a kick-off press conference at NATPE in Miami on Tuesday to offer a video streaming subscription service that will be tied to the site’s Club O loyalty program.
“We have this tremendous traffic and we have a deep understanding of our customers,” said Overstock.com CEO Patrick M. Byrne. “We know what they are looking for.”
Byrne said that Overstock.com has a partnership with an unnamed third party that owns rights to mostly movies but also TV shows, and that it intends to initially launch a download-to-own or –rent service in the middle of this year. The service will also include games, music and other original content. Stage two will be launching a subscription video-on-demand service (SVOD) that may eventually include original programming.
“We chose NATPE because as we’ve been spinning this effort out, we’ve discovered that NATPE is the place to go, it’s where the deal making happens,” said Byrne. “We are here to deepen our relationships in this industry. When this gets launched, we intend to be a player in original content.”
What that content might look like is unclear, but Byrne said that it would likely tie into the categories that already exist on the site. For example, Overstock.com offers a world market category where international artisans sell their goods. “I travel around the world to meet people,” said Byrne. “There are opportunities to turn that into some original content.”
A Club O membership currently costs $19.95 per year. Members would pay a per-download fee for content in the first phase of Overstock.com’s plan. Pricing for the SVOD service has not yet been determined. The program currently has two million customers, but is expected to include 10 million people by the end of the year. Some 30 million people visit the site per-month.
Overstock.com is entering the content business just as rival Amazon.com is coming off its first major awards win, taking home the Golden Globe for best comedy for the Jeffrey Tambor-starrer Transparent.
Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.
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