Thursday, December 06, 2012

Toys R Us, Hallmark -- Netflix Killers?

Did you know that Toys R Us (yes, THAT Toys R Us!) now offers an online movie store (both rentals and purchases) to compete with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes and the others?

I didn't, and I am on the cutting edge of the online video business (or at least, so I thought)!

But wait, there's more!  Hallmark (yes, THAT Hallmark!) now too has its own online movie store to compete with, yes, you guessed it, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, iTunes and the others.  Hallmark's runs under the name "SpiritClips," which was the online streaming service it acquired back in March.  Long-time entertainment executive Rob Fried founded SpiritClips.

As a side note, interestingly, I worked closely with Rob "back in the day" when I was VP Business Affairs at Savoy Pictures (the independent movie and television upstart that ultimately was acquired and essentially unceremoniously shuttered by Barry Diller's Silver King Entertainment).  Rob ran Savoy -- and I was a young hot-shot entertainment wheeler-dealer guy (or at least, so I thought at the time).

In any event, back to the main event.  Toys R Us and Hallmark both hope to take market share away from the 800 pound gorillas by focusing on family-friendly video content.  No "R" rated titles here.  Both also fully intend to flex their marketing muscle both online and offline in their stores -- imagine the special offers they can give to in-store "guests" (who are then driven online to not only watch movies, but also to buy more "stuff").  And, Hallmark has one more trick up its crafty little sleeve.  Hallmark has produced hundreds of movies over the years (since 1951 to be exact), collecting 79 Emmy Awards in the process.  So, it conceptually will be able to flex its "content exclusivity" muscle.

Toys R Us, Hallmark ... who's next?

Quiero Taco Bell?