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Startup HitBliss is getting ready to launch an on-demand content-streaming service.
But unlike services like Netflix, the company is building its model around inviting consumers to watch ads to earn cash that can be used toward movie rentals and TV episode purchases. HitBliss’ private beta test begins Friday.
“Users can consume targeted messages in a playlist — people have called this Pandora for advertisers — and in exchange for their time and attention, they are compensated with earned cash,” explained Sharon Peyer,? co-founder and vp business development.
New movies can be rented as early as their DVD release date, and TV episodes can be purchased one day after they air, she said. HitBliss already has deals in place with several content owners and are in negotiations with others. Peyer declined to name content owners, but titles on the HitBliss site include movies from Paramount, Universal and Warner Bros.
“We have transactional distribution rights,” she said, “which means we have the exact same rights that iTunes, Amazon [Instant Video], any transactional service would have. The difference is with HitBliss, consumers can use the earned cash to pay for content. Pricing is the same.”
HitBliss has two parts: HitBliss Earn and HitBliss Store.
With HitBliss Earn, consumers accumulate cash in their account by watching ads. The more information they provide about themselves, the more targeted the ads and the faster they can earn cash. Peyer estimates that viewing ads for about six minutes will earn enough cash to, for instance, rent a movie.
Advertisers pay the cash to the viewer when its ad is consumed, and that revenue is shared by HitBliss and the content owners.
To verify viewer attention, consumers are effectively asked to check in while watching. If the service doesn’t get a response, the viewer wouldn’t be credited for watching the ad.
Advertisers can define the target market that they want to reach, but when an ad is played, the advertisers only know that viewer was a match. HitBliss doesn’t provide any other information about the consumers, Peyer said.
Consumers can then spend their earnings in the HitBliss Store (or they have the option to simply pay). Content is streamed through a HitBliss Store app without commercial interruptions. Plans are for HitBliss to become available on smart TVs, desktops and mobile devices.
Based in Lexington, Mass., HitBliss is privately backed by Alpond Capital.