Three top Hollywood studios bring films to Web

NEW YORK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – It is a dash of Hulu and a sprinkle of YouTube, features a crystal clear picture, can rewind or fast-forward at lightning speed, and doesn’t require a download of any special software.

But epixHD.com, the soon-to-launch video website, will have its success dictated more by the movies, concerts and original programs it offers than the technology behind it, said the executive charged with creating and running the site.

"The critical linchpin to what we’ve got is that we have one-third of the box office of Hollywood," Epix Chief Digital Officer Emil Rensing said in an interview.

That comes thanks to the three parent companies of Epix: Viacom Inc’s Paramount film studio, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp and MGM. In putting together Epix, the companies hope to compete with Time Warner Inc’s HBO and CBS Corp’s Showtime in the premium movie channel business.

But they added a twist. In addition to the premium movie channel and a video-on-demand component, the venture is building epixHD.com, a website where the studios’ vast collections of full-length movies and new original programing can be streamed by any subscriber.

Rensing, a former executive with Time Warner’s AOL, was hired to run the site. His aim, he said in an interview, was to make it "all about being easy to use" yet not a "dumb player" that simply acts as a projection screen for video.

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