Cflix set to launch video service, music to follow

Cflix, the company Yale hired last month to pilot online educational and entertainment media, will begin fulfilling its second purpose this Wednesday as it launches its video-on-demand service, Cflix President Brett Goldberg said last week. He said the music service will follow during the last week of March.

The educational aspect of the service has been online since Jan. 13 and offers a variety of films ranging from Casablanca to Annie Hall. Goldberg said the academic offerings had received “excellent usage” so far and said he believed the music and video services would also do well.

“I’m optimistic that with a great blend of content, great pricing, a great user experience and potential billing support within the University, the service is going to be very well received,” Goldberg said.

Chuck Powell, the director of academic media and technology for Yale’s Information Technology Services, said in an e-mail that the use of Cflix academically has, so far, exceeded ITS officials’ expectations. Powell said there have been few support issues and many professors had signed on to use the site, despite little advertising by ITS.

“Early reports (and here I must caution we have not yet begun our full systematic approach) from both students and faculty have been very favorable,” Powell said in the e-mail.

The Cflix site lists 37 courses which are registered to offer content, though not all of the courses actually had videos listed as of Sunday night. Students can only access content for courses they are taking.

Goldberg said the initial launch of the video on demand service will include independent feature films and sports programs, with major motion pictures available “as soon as possible.” Between 50 and 100 titles will be available for purchase when the service launches, Goldberg said. When the music service launches in late March, Goldberg said it will offer over 600,000 tracks from all five major record labels.

The cost for videos will be “very favorable,” Goldberg said in a later e-mail, with users able to either purchase a membership package or buy individual offerings on a pay-per-view basis. He said the video downloads will be protected, and users will not be able to burn them onto CDs or transfer them to other users.

Goldberg said users will be able to purchase a monthly music downloads subscription for under $3 a month which will provide unlimited access to the collection for tethered downloads — files that cannot be burned or shared. Shoppers will also have the option to pay a per-download fee of 89 cents per song and will then be able to burn those songs to CDs, Goldberg said.

Cflix has signed with another company to provide the digital music service, Goldberg said. While he said in the e-mail he was “very excited” about the partnership, he declined to name the provider.

Goldberg said Cflix was also working to initiate a student film festival that would take place on the site’s Digital Village in March. He said he had also spoken with Yale TV about using the site to showcase their offerings.

While YTV President Tyler Golson ’04 said his group has taken “no definite steps” towards providing their content to Cflix, he said he considers it a good idea. Golson said YTV could post its original 20-30 minute programs on Cflix, including Queer Eye for the Yale Guy and YTV News.

Cflix’s contract for the pilot program runs through the end of the semester. Powell said in January that the arrangement will continue if both parties are satisfied.

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