Combine all those new connected devices being deployed with the byzantine world of movies' and TV shows' rights windows and you get a pretty confusing landscape. That's where a new service called Fanhattan, being announced today, comes in. Fanhattan is a cloud-based app for connected devices that is dynamically updated according to the ever-changing rights windows. CEO Gilles BianRosa, who has run sister company Vuze, gave me a rundown yesterday.
Fanhattan has acquired The Open Movie Database (TMDb) to power the listings and is augmenting them with related assets and information from around the web to create what Gilles calls an "entertainment graph" connecting content, metadata, sources and device availability in one database. For the user, the experience could be compelling; say you want to watch "Inception." Is it on Amazon, Vudu, Netflix, iTunes, Hulu or elsewhere? And what is the best price? Fanhattan would expose the various choices that your connected device is eligible for and offer 1-click purchase or rental access. That improves upon today's connected device user's experience of having to check across multiple options or maybe just defaulting to what's easiest, say what's on Netflix.
Fanhattan is looking to sign deals with consumer device companies which would get the app for free. The base functionality would also be free to consumers. Gilles envisions 2 business models to start; an affiliate fee from sites where the purchase/rental is completed and a commerce model based on merchandise, tickets and other items users buy through Fanhattan. He also sees a "freemium" model with additional features layered on for a fee. The affiliate opportunity seems most tangible to me for now, though obviously Fanhattan would need huge scale to drive meaningful revenue.
While the need for content discovery tools on connected devices is going to be significant, the competition is already heating up. Apps like Clicker and Miniweb's Woomi as well as services from DivX, Google TV and plenty of others are already available. Fanhattan has a striking visual design, to succeed it will have to sign up lots of partners, generate significant consumer awareness and stay a step ahead of the others.
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