SnagFilms has already proven it can be profitable. But now, with several fresh rounds of funding, the indie video on demand service is trying to get a lot bigger. SnagFilms has reached deals with iN Demand and Dish Network (NSDQ: DISH) that put its pay-per-view programming service in 90 percent of the nearly 60 million VOD-capable homes in the U.S. Separately, SnagFilms has made agreements to extend its ad-supported streaming brand to the Sony-owned video service Crackle, as well as AOL’s video portal service.
Washington, DC-based SnagFilms offers ad-supported, free-to-consumer streaming access to a library of about 3,000 indie movie titles, mostly documentaries, for viewing on over 100 types of digital devices. It also offers a select number of its titles, mostly the newer movies, through transactional VOD on a wide variety of cable, satellite and telco pay TV services. Since January of 2011, the company — founded four years ago by Ted Leonis — has announced three rounds of funding collectively worth $27 million, served mainly by the company’s groundfloor backers, New Enterprise Associates and Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) Interactive Capital. Individual investors include not only Leonis, but Steve Case and Terry Semel.
SnagFilms CEO Richard Allen described the company as “modestly profitable” in the fourth quarter of 2010. Since that time, however, he said SnagFilms has made substantial investments in technology, marketing, content and staffing. He expects a return to profitability in late 2013.
For SnagFilms, the challenge right now is ubiquity — to be on as many devices and platforms as, say, Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX), so it can be the channel of choice when it comes to viewing indie film.
The addition of Dish Network’s nearly 14 million subscribers — coupled with an agreement made earlier with DirecTV (NYSE: DTV) — means that SnagFilms’ pay-per-view service now comes as a bundled VOD option in the more than 33 million American homes that subscribe to satellite TV.
Meanwhile, the agreement with third-party pay-per-view and VOD service provider iN Demand puts SnagFilms onto the VOD programming menus of the nation’s No. 4 multichannel operator, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), as well as No. 10-ranked multichannel service Bright House Networks. SnagFilms already has existing VOD distribution through not only DirecTV, but top multichannel provider Comcast and Verizon FiOS.
In addition to VOD through multichannel services, SnagFilms continues to proliferate across web-based viewing platforms and devices, signing a deal with Sony’s male-targeted video portal Crackle, which itself has broad-reaching syndication deals with YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG), Hulu and Microsoft’s Xbox Live, among other viewing platforms. SnagFilms is also working on an agreement to supply nearly 1,000 titles to AOL’s new video portal. Device-wise, the company plans to roll out an player app for Vizeo smart TVs; this follows the earlier release of Sony (NYSE: SNE) and Panasonic smart-TV and Blu-ray player apps.
The inclusion on these devices and services follows the recent launch of SnagFilms on Xbox Live and Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) transactional internet VOD service Vudu. And under a deal that was announced earlier, the service will also soon debut on the Samsung Media Hub.
In addition to new distribution agreements, SnagFilms has also announced several key executive hires:
– D. Scott Karnedy has been named to the position of chief revenue officer, where he’ll lead sales and marketing efforts for SnagFilms’ ad-supported web and mobile platforms, as well as the internet news site the company also runs, IndieWire. Karnedy most recently served as chief sales officer and executive VP for Premiere Retail Networks.
– Manik Bambha has been appointed to the position of chief technology officer, where he’ll oversee technology initiatives, product design and development of the SnagFilms and IndieWire websites and mobile offerings, as well as their entries into social media. Bambha previously spearheaded technology initiatives for MySpace and Fox (NSDQ: NWS) Interactive Media.
– Gary Hahn has been hired as executive VP of marketing, where he’ll lead marketing and branding efforts for SnagFilms. He previously worked for XM Satellite Radio.