Monday Mar 11, 2013 by Dennis Keohane - Contributor, VentureFizz
The snow-filled month of February allowed for an unprecedented spending spree for “On-Demand” movies in this journalist’s household. Although the film festival did prevent the onset of cabin fever, it also left its mark on the month’s cable bill. I could have avoided this end-of-the-month financial comeuppance if I had known about HitBliss, the Lexington-based content streaming platform that is looking to change the way content consumers engage with advertisers and vice-versa.
Now in beta, HitBliss is trying to create a new model of content engagement in which users have more control of how they pay for content.
The current options for consumers are to either pay directly for content (iTunes, pay-per-view), subscribe to premium content services (Netflix, New York Times), or “pay” for “free” content by ads that precede YouTube videos or litter websites.
The last example, the internet advertising model, seemed broken to Andrew Prihodko and Sharon Peyer, the husband and wife behind HitBliss, who came up with the idea for the company in 2008. To date, HitBliss has raised just above $10M in funding led by Alpond Capital, which is a firm started by Andrew Marcuvitz (former General Partner at Matrix). Andrew & Sharon's previous company, Pixamo, was acquired by NameMedia in 2007.
To them, the advertising model was too disruptive for users. Moreover, Peyer and Prihodko believed that advertisers lacked the ability to target specific consumers and get a clear picture of the return for their advertising money. The goal of HitBliss is to separate the relationship that the consumer has with content and the relationship the consumer has with the advertiser while creating a more accurate and useful model for companies to maximize advertising.
HitBliss has two components. HitBliss Earn allows users to make money by experiencing advertisements of his or her choice. Consumers can then use balances built through HitBliss Earn (or a credit card) to purchase films and television shows through the HitBliss Store, a sort of hybrid of iTunes and Netflix.
Currently, HitBliss has a large library of films and television shows available through the HitBliss store, including recently released content. This may be the most impressive component of the HitBliss story: a Boston-based consumer-focused company impresses the Hollywood studios with the promise of a better way to monetize content, giving them the right to stream hit films and television programming.
The company is still working on improving the overall experience and hopes to come out of beta soon. Additionally, HitBliss is developing ways to push the app to a variety of devices including iPhones and iPads.
The grand idea behind HitBliss is giving the consumer control over how he or she pays for content and engages advertising. However, the company’s greatest asset may be the way it is reshaping advertising. As one company after another tries to “solve” the problem of web and mobile monetization, HitBliss seems to have found a happy medium that appeals to both consumers and advertisers alike.