Currently, Netflix subscribers have the option of streaming some films on-demand online. But a new cable channel, Epix, hopes to bring online movie streaming to the next level. The channel will function like most other premium TV cable channels, but on steroids. Reuters reports that, since it is owned by companies that take in approximately one-third of Hollywood's film revenue, its subscribers will also have access to a similar proportion of films to stream on-demand through its website, epixHD.com. If it gains popularity, more studios may sign-on, or start other similar services. But will it?

I was the first to scoff at Netflix's streaming ambitions, since I would rarely want to watch a movie on my desktop or laptop when I had a reliable internet connection (i.e. at home or at work). After all, people don't spend a thousand dollars on a 40" TV to squint at a movie on their 13" laptop. But now that I'm in the market for a new television, I have learned that newer TVs come built equip to stream video through the internet -- some even include an internet socket. Netflix's streaming movies, in particular, can be seamlessly used with such TVs.

As a result, online streaming of movies has a real chance of taking off. Old premium cable channels may become obsolete when compared with one where you can also access a website offering thousands of titles on-demand. The reason I decided to subscribe to Netflix a few years ago was precisely because it was cheaper than a cable movie channel, but offered a much broader movie palette. Epix sounds like it offers the best of both worlds.

The website will also have some other features that other premium cable channels can't compete with. According to Reuters:

So epixHD.com comes with an array of features. When watching Paramount's "Iron Man," for instance, a person will have access to the trailer, lists of facts about the superhero film, a plot synopsis, and cast list.



And Reuters explains another really cool twist:

Under the current distribution agreement with Verizon Communications, Epix subscribers can invite up to four friends to watch a movie online -- from their own computers.


Those friends can also swap message about the movie through a chat function in the player. And so long as they are invited by an Epix subscriber, the friends watch for free.


"Hey, when you come to my house and we're going to sit down and watch the 'Sopranos' and you don't have HBO do I charge you a dollar and stick it in my cable bill?"



Look for the website coming soon and the cable channel in October.

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