Desperation Notifier

20th Century Fox rolled out an app, with apparently some text for The Hollywood Reporter and Variety to paraphrase. They’re so excited about this app they didn’t bother to open it, or to apply any critical thought. That’s how exciting this app is. Wee!

It’s an app from Fox Digital Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. They do promotional tie-in apps for Fox’s entertainment properties. You download this free app, which is white-label software from Premiere Digital Services, and then it will notify you of daily flash sales on Fox’s movies in the iTunes Store. There is no special deal brokered between Fox and iTunes.

The sale price is the same in the app, or in the iTunes store. This is merely a way to highlight the film on sale, and provide a countdown timer — including complimentary seconds ticking away! — to entice people to hurry up and purchase something.

Strangely, “Movie of the Day” is by Fox, for Fox, but has no Fox branding on it. It’s also “MovieOfDay” when displayed on your iPhone, which amuses me.

Since no one appears to have opened the application before they wrote about it, allow me to be the first.


First of all, if you go to the store to download the app you are treated to screenshots of films that are not available to download. Not a big deal, right? It’s just demonstrating a flash sale.

Except that the image in the screenshot is of last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past and the only film available for download happens to be 2011’s X-Men: First Class. Surely, just a coincidence. Surely.

Upon launching the app, you get the best first screen experience anyone can ever hope for:

Keep that in mind, because that’s really the primary goal the company has. The people running this project feel it is their duty to notify customers to purchase something immediately.

The home screen has a share button, which pulls up a standard iOS 8 share sheet to send this important sale to Twitter, or run a Workflow. The “i” pulls up a bar of icons that have no text explanation. Turns out, they’re for cast & crew (just the stars and director), reviews (it doesn’t label where they’re from but it appears to be sourced from iTunes), and a synopsis. I could get more information from the search page in Google, or even by clicking the button in the app that kicks you to the iTunes Store.

What’s the value to the customer? Almost none that I can think of. Unless you really want to be notified every day about an old movie you might not be interested in owning on the off chance that you might want to own one of them.

This seems to want to evoke some of the excitement of bargain bins, with $5-10 DVDs, but there’s no shelf space to clear out, and no retailer with volume to move. Apple can move as much, or as little, as Fox wants. Fox, when left to its own devices, thinks everything it makes is gonna be gold forever and finds it very difficult to markdown their own movies.

That’s why there’s a flash sale with a timer. Artificial scarcity for the customers, and then the panic over low-low prices can subside.

From Variety’s original reporting: “…available for purchase on [on?!] digital HD for $6.99 — ordinarily priced at $14.99.” Perhaps the problem is that Fox is pricing a movie from 2011 at $14.99 the rest of the year? Look, X-Men: First Class was OK, but it’s not like it’s The Godfather.

2015-05-27 08:26:45

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