Major Hollywood studios are getting ready to light up the new Epix online streaming movie service this weekend…but consumers who were hoping Epix might give outlets like Netflix or Hulu a run for their money are bound to be disappointed. For now, Epix will only be available to Verizon FiOS customers as an additional $9.99 charge on top of their current FiOS packages…and in an age of Netflix’s and Hulu’s, why would consumers want to go for that?
The idea behind Epix is that the studios will be offering high-definition (720p) version of movies before they’re available on DVD. Customers will be able to stream the movies to their set-top boxes via the Epix channels, but will also be able to stream them to their PCs using their Verizon FiOS username and password. In addition to first-run films, Epix will offer catalog titles from participating studios: right now, that’s Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate.
On the PC side, video is streamed via a Flash component, and the videos adapt to available bandwidth to deliver the best picture possible given current network conditions. On a high bandwidth connection users can expect good quality 720p video; on dicey Wi-Fi in a coffeeship, video quality won’t be as high.
The success of Epix no doubt hinges on the appeal of the content, but consumer interest in the service will certainly be watched closely by other broadband providers looking to provide a value add-on—and new revenue stream—to their existing service offerings. So far, Epix appears to have no plans to open its streaming service to the general Internet population. However, consumers curious about the service can get a free 72-hour passcode to try out Epix from their computers for themselves.