Popcornflix streams into the ‘final frontier’

EVP David Fannon talks to StreamDaily on his company's goals for international expansion and how the business model differs from Netflix.
February 23, 2016

Ad-supported VOD service Popcornflix has arrived on Apple TV.

EVP David Fannon told StreamDaily the platform is the “final frontier” for the company as it is now available on every major platform and connected TV device, including Roku, iOS, and XBox.

Popcornflix’s library includes more than 4,000 titles, giving viewers in more than 65 countries access to the likes of The Virgin Suicides (pictured), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and Paranormal Activity.

The service does not produce original content, nor does it have many exclusive titles under its banner.

Rather, said Fannon, the strategy has been to reach as many people as possible.

“So why wouldn’t you want to be on as many connected devices as possible,” he said.

The launch on Apple TV took longer than it did on other platforms because using Apple technology made it difficult to place enough ads to support the content, said Fannon. Popcornflix’s web interface allows for banner ads, but, initially on Apple TV, the service’s films could only be supported through pre-roll ads — and too many pre-roll ads do not make viewers happy.

“It’s not a good business model to only do pre-roll,” he said. “We’ve since been able to integrate both pre-roll

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and mid-roll, which works way better than sitting through several ads at once.”

Popcornflix was first established in 2011. It’s owned by New York-based distribution company Screen Media, which decided to start distributing titles on an ad-supported VOD network following a decline in DVD sales.

“It was around the time that Sony had just acquired Crackle, Hulu had switched from entirely ad-supported to subscription, Netflix was really expanding, so we saw a space for ourselves in the free, ad-supported market,” said Fannon.

The service also has three dedicated verticals for its most popular genres — horror, comedy and kids. Fannon said, because of its feature-length offerings, many of Popcornflix’s viewers are also be Netflix customers, though the services are considerably different.

Beyond the SVOD and AVOD comparison, Fannon posits that Netflix “no longer a movie site. It’s a TV site with some movies.”

Overall, he said, Popcornflix is not intended to compete with the big subscription services. Rather, he said, “we’re in addition to.”

Popcornflix declined to make public its user numbers.

With the addition of Apple TV, Fannon said the company will now focus on international expansion, including acquiring localized content and inking new content and advertising partnerships. The company is also looking to launch a YouTube channel with short-form content.

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