Paramount Joins ZillionTV, But Does That Mean It’s Thriving?

Studio among many to jump aboard venture that some say is barely surviving.

Last Updated: November 9, 2009 @ 5:44 PM
Is ZillionTV — a fledgling Internet-based TV service with more than $18 million in funding — barely surviving? Or is it thriving?
The company announced today that Paramount has joined as a new equity partner, offering a slate of films that customers will be able to watch using a variety of payment models. Recently, Lionsgate also made an equity investment. Other equity partners include Disney, Fox, NBC Universal, Visa, and Warner Bros.
Yet at least one skeptic argues that the service is not doing well. The company recently laid off a significant portion of its staff, pushed its launch date back by one year, altered its marketing strategy, and brought in a new CEO. The company  will not say whether that equity investment includes cash.
Company founder Mitch Berman says everything is fine, that the company is simply adjusting to market realities. While ZillionTV once hoped to be offered strictly through marketing alliances with ISPs, the service will now also be offered directly to the public in areas where those alliances cannot be made. With both AT&T and Verizon already offering their own IP-based TV services in many markets, this will open up the market to the new service, Berman says.
ZillonTV hopes to enlist consumers to its service by offering many movies for free (such as Paramount’s "In and Out," and "Ordinary People") if customers agree to watch ads at the head of the title, or on a pay-per-view basis if they don’t. Certain titles will also be available to be purchased electronically.

BIO Eric Taub

Eric Taub has covered the intersection of technology and entertainment for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications for more than 15 years. A former pay TV analyst for Paul Kagan Associates, Eric has written two books, including "Gaffers, Grips, and Best Boys: Who Does What in the Making of a Motion Picture." He produced the first-ever pay-per-view concert, and worked for 12 years as an independent overseas feature film distributor.