Sony’s Crackle Taps Google for Platform Expansion
In October, Sony’s Crackle the multiscreen video-on-demand (VOD) content network featuring Sony film and TV titles, and Crackle original productions, launched its first mobile application on the Android mobile platform and additionally. released an optimized version for Google TV. Crackle is conspicuously absent from Apple products though they claim a partnership is in the works.
Until now, you could only access Crackle on their home site, Playstation, and on Crackle’s branded channels syndicated on bigger VOD players such as Hulu and Youtube.
While Hulu, Youtube, Netflix, and the studios’ online homes have quickly captured users as the major destinations for online video, Crackle has had a relatively snail-like uptake since acquired by Sony in 2006 (known then as “Grouper”). In hindsight, it looks as though Crackle has been quietly watching and crafting a competitive platform strategy while these other destinations’ picked their dance partners and have enjoyed larger audiences.
Other competing content networks, such as Joost, have not had the luxury to wait and watch. Crackle owes its resilience to its plum position as the default new media extension of Sony Pictures- it was a long-term investment by Sony who could afford a few years of underperformance.
With these latest moves, Crackle is coming-out in a big way. They brokered a larger overall partnership with Google, beginning with the Android application. As the first subscription video application on the platform, Crackle has chosen the “freemium” model, like Hulu Plus, to attract subs: the basic download is free and allows for basic content access, hopefully enticing an upgrade to monthly subscription. This model has momentum- in fact, as Gigaom reports, one-third of top-grossing iPhone applications are Freemium.
Crackle position on Google’s Android allows for better positioning. On the Android, in contrast to the iPhone, Crackle does not have Hulu or Netflix to compete with- for now. This will lead to expected increased traffic and consumer awareness of Crackle- now that it is accessible on more screens and prominently, at least on Android phones.
From a consumer perspective, Crackle’s launch on mobile and Google TV is great news because it opens increased viewing options. It will be interesting to watch where we find Crackle next and how it fairs in competition with other VOD content options, considering increasing competitive coexistence on all platforms in the future.