Los Angeles Business Journal

TV Fattens Up on a la Carte

ENTERTAINMENT: M-Go looks to make move into home market. By Jonathan Polakoff Monday, September 2, 2013

Now that digital apps are the rising stars of show business, a new entertainment service called M-Go is looking to step into the limelight.

You might not have heard of it yet, but the Culver City startup is planning to make it into the public eye in a big way later this year.

The question: Can it stand out from more established competitors and attract enough viewers in the crowded field?

M-Go, with a staff of 125, is owned by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. of Glendale and Technicolor, a Paris company with major operations in the L.A. area. Unlike many of its e-commerce competitors, such as Apple and Google, its roots are in Hollywood rather than Silicon Valley. M-Go quietly launched an iTunes-like marketplace of movies and TV shows early this year after striking deals with major studios and TV manufacturers. The service allows individual purchases or rentals of movies and TV shows the same day as their DVD release.

But M-Go is still under the radar for consumers: a problem it hopes to remedy with a marketing push later this year. M-Go also will be upgrading its display and adding features this week.

The focus is on getting people to try it out, said Frederic Rose, chief executive of Technicolor, the majority owner of M-Go.

“The issue is how can we create a differentiated experience and how do we spread it,” he said. “We’re much further along than I thought we’d be.”

M-Go started with a flurry of activity early last year when it announced its app would be preloaded on Internet TVs from Samsung and Vizio, as well as some Intel devices. M-Go then made licensing deals with studios NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros., followed by others with Relativity Media, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. and DreamWorks Animation for online distribution of their fare. The deals involve a revenue share for the studios.

The content is available on mobile devices and Internet-connected TVs.

Prices vary, but last year’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” for example, costs $4.99 to rent and $14.99 to buy. A season of the TV show “Parenthood” in high definition costs $15.99; episodes cost $2.99 each.

The service launched in beta mode at the start of the year, so consumers aren’t familiar with M-Go yet, said Dan Cryan, research director of digital media at research firm IHS in Santa Clara. The marketing challenge is only heightened since its primary competitors in a la carte entertainment purchases, iTunes and Wal-Mart’s Vudu, are already established forces.

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