Sony’s Crackle Site to Bolster Video Offerings


By SARAH MCBRIDE

Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures is beefing up Crackle.com, its video-viewing Web site, adding dozens more movies and an interactive game in an effort to draw more young males, its target audience.

The move could help Crackle keep viewers on its site longer, which in turn would help boost its standing with advertisers.

Crackle’s three million unique viewers spent an average of just five minutes each on the site in March, according to comScore Inc. That compares with 57.9 minutes at Hulu.com, which had 42 million unique viewers; 59.6 minutes at Joost.com, with 523,000 unique viewers; and 15.8 minutes at Yahoo video, with 6.7 million unique viewers.
[crackle.com] Columbia/Everett Collection

Crackle is offering streamed views of ‘Spider-Man 2,’ a relatively recent movie compared with those typically available to watch free online.

“If the property is sticky, you have more of a likelihood to get in front of a viewer multiple times,” says Donnie Williams, head of digital strategy at Horizon Media Inc.

Under its new push, to be announced Wednesday at a digital-advertising event, Sony will make about 100 movies immediately available. The company will be taking advantage of gaps in “windows” — portions of time a movie might be under license with a TV or cable company for exclusive viewing.

Crackle is kickstarting its strategy by putting up for streamed views “Spider-Man 2,” which at five years old is relatively fresh compared with the other movies that are typically available free online as studios try to concentrate on other distribution platforms for newer titles. On other sites, movies might be as old as “Blackmail,” the 1929 Alfred Hitchcock classic.

Sony recently announced an agreement with Google Inc.’s YouTube to make its movies available on that site, but the agreement is limited to about 15 titles.

The shift in strategy allows Sony to keep drawing revenue more consistently from its titles while maintaining some exclusivity by keeping viewers on a proprietary site. “That, strategically is (maintaining) the Sony franchise,” says RBC Capital Markets analyst David Bank.

Write to Sarah McBride at sarah.mcbride@wsj.com

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