March 10, 2013
HitBliss - Solving the Problem of Monetizing Hollywood

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

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.

Dennis Keohane is a teacher, journalist and contributor to VentureFizz.  You can follow Dennis on Twitter (@DBKeohane) by clicking here.

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