When it comes to video on-demand, the key is to have a USP. Subscription. Pay-per-view. TV. No TV. New films. Old films. Whatever it is, the more unique the better. Netflix has proven itself the king of this strategy in the last 12 years, buying up exclusive rights for programmes such as Breaking Bad – and then going one step further and funding productions themselves.
With Wuaki.tv launching last month, boasting subscription AND pay-per-view titles, what niches are left for new sites to fill in? Enter TheHorrorShow.tv, the first video on-demand provider to focus specifically on a genre. It’s a smart move – but is it the horror VOD service you’ve been waiting for?
We take the site through its paces.
Blockbuster have a lot to answer for. TheHorrorShow.tv plumps for the standard pricing model of a £3.49 rental, ranking it alongside blinkbox and iTunes for cost. Films for download/purchase are £9.99, clocking in just underneath the price of a new release on its pay per view rivals – but that price is the same for both new and old titles.
That’s not to say there is no value to be found, though: one collection of 10 short films is priced at a fantastic 99p, working out at less than 10p per film.
Here’s the main problem for a brand new VOD provider: Netflix and LOVEFiLM have already snapped up most things. Netflix UK has approximately 158 horror films available to stream. TheHorrorShow.tv has just over 50 titles, but goes in the other direction, aiming for indie fare that wouldn’t stand a chance with the bigger names. Using curators, such as FEARnet’s Scott Weinberg, who are genuine fans, their aim is to only pick the good stuff.
As a result, there are some exclusives in there, but you may not have heard of them.
First up, that Short Stack we mentioned earlier – 99p really is impressive – that includes a starring Reece Shearsmith. The Casebook of Eddie Brewer is another, alongside Insatiable, and Marianne.
As well as the exclusives, the site has a nice range of older films too, including (for American Mary fans) the debut film from the Soska Twins, Dead Hooker in a Trunk. How can you not like a catalogue that includes a film with that as a title.
This is TheHorrorShow.tv’s main weakness. Watching films on the site has to be done exactly like that: watching them on the site. Using their “Screaming Room” (bonus points for the pun), your chosen video is then streamed in a cute little projection window on the screen. The problem? It doesn’t always work, jumping, pausing and stuttering. These are problems more likely caused by a browser or internet connection, but a solo website offering only increases the odds on that occurring – once they have an iPad, iPhone or Android app, that won’t be a problem.
Video quality is perfectly acceptable for a streamed rental video. We watched Sawney: Flesh of Man and the visuals were satisfactory, although not (it seemed) in HD.
A fan-curated service for fans, TheHorrorShow.tv wins points for its clear dedication to the cause: it’s a labour of love as much as anything else. You can tell, right down to the fake blood images sitting in the background. What it lacks in a library, it makes up for with heart. And liver. And intestines. And blood.
With its traffic light style display (green on rent and red on buy means that a film is not available to purchase), it’s a good site already, but it’s potential is the scary part: oh yes, it has potential. Bucketloads. All it needs to get more films – and from what we’ve seen already, they’re definitely on the case. The iTunes for horror fans? Go on then.
For more information, visit www.thehorrorshow.tv