Last month we reported that a new cable channel called Epix was going to try to steal thunder from heavyweights like HBO and Showtime by also offering all their movies online at EpixHD.com. The channel, which is being offered first on Verizon FiOS, is available for order now, and has also opened its Netflix-style movie Web site to the public for the next 72 hours so that non-Verizon folks can check out the service.
Better yet, FastCompany.com readers can get free access for the next 30 days by following Epix on Twitter. (Check out the end of this post for details.)
Verizon hasn't yet announced how much they'll charge to add Epix to a FiOS subscription, which will appear in HD as channel 895. But they'll have a powerful offering in the Epix site, which will hang onto all the Epix movies for anytime viewing. Right now, the library hovers at around 150 films; within a year, says Head of Digital Media Emil Rensing, that number will balloon to 3,000.
"We're not being bold and saying that we'll totally change movie watching online," he says, "but the focus is about choice." Rensing says that it's not enough to be able to watch live on cable or record on Tivo. Customers want to have all those movies they pay for monthly available at their computers, and eventually, their mobile phones. ("We're working on mobile solutions," says Rensing, who predicts that Verizon Wireless will add Epix to their V-Cast mobile TV channel.)
As far as online movie sites go, Epix will be among the best. It eschews Silverlight (ahem, Netflix) for Flash video, and offers six auto-adjusting levels of compression for varying Internet speeds. Like Apple's iTunes LP offerings, the Web version of Epix will even have some extra movie junk--behind the scenes clips and studio stills--that the cable channel doesn't.
Invite demos for EpixHD.com can be found here, and last through this weekend. Epix will also give 30-day VIP codes via DM to the first 200 readers who follow @epixHD on Twitter AND who tweet "@epixhd Experience Epix #fastcompany."
Once you've used EpixHD, let us know your thoughts in the comments.