The UK's largest independent producer is set to shake up the video-on-demand market by allowing viewers to bypass services such as LoveFilm and Netflix and catch hits including Shameless and The Only Way is Essex via its TV app.
All3Media, producer of Skins, Midsomer Murders, The Cube and Peep Show, has struck a deal to launch a video-on-demand app on internet-connected Samsung and LG smart TVs.
The company believes it is the first UK indie to go direct to consumers with a TV service, which will launch in the UK this week and in the US within the next month.
Viewers will be able to buy and watch shows through the app – which will be branded A3M and carry the strapline "Best of British TV" in the US – initially on a pay-per-view basis.
All3Media commercial director and former Channel 4 senior digital executive, Andy Taylor, said the app is being viewed as an experiment to test pricing, appetite and extend the reach of its programmes.
Various pricing models will be tested, from traditional levels such as 49p and 99p per episode to potentially offering shows for free on a promotional weekend.
Plans to develop the service will include launching a monthly subscription and season pass option.
Netflix charges £5.99 a month, LoveFilm £4.99 for its streaming video services.
The e-commerce engine that sits behind the app has been developed by PayWizard, which counts former ITV chief executive Richard Eyre as a director, PayWizard is also working on ITV's long-anticipated micropayment on-demand TV service.
Taylor made it clear the app was not an attempt to displace established VOD services or annoy broadcasters.
"Our primary business will continue to be licensing our programmes to international broadcasters and video on demand partners such as Netflix, Hulu and LoveFilm," said Taylor. "It will allow us to experiment with different payment models, to continue to get closer to to our viewers and to experiment offering our content in a range of territories."
All3Media has tested different distribution models for its series before.
Last year the company struck a deal with Hulu to broadcast The Only Way is Essex in the US after the show failed to be picked up by a broadcaster, leading to the programme becoming an online hit.
The All3Media application has been developed by connected TV software company Easeltv and video technology company Ooyala.
Last year All3Media, which owns about 20 production companies, put itself up for sale but buyers balked at its £750m price tag.
All3Media was formed by chief executive Steve Morrison and his former ITV colleagues, David Liddiment and Jules Burns, in 2003 when they bought Chrysalis's TV business for £45m.
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