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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Test Run: Splitsider Presents, an Online Movie Hub

The other night, a friend invited me to a screening of “The Exquisite Corpse Project,” a documentary about comedy writers trying to collaborate on a movie.

I was feeling under the weather and had a mountain of work, so I sent my regrets. But my friend, who was involved with the movie as part of a comedy site he runs called Splitsider, offered to let me watch through a new digital distribution service it was introducing to let people stream and download new releases through a Web browser.

The service, called Splitsider Presents, lets people buy and watch comedies and documentaries. After signing up and logging in, you pick your film and pay $5 or so. (Splitsider splits the revenue with the filmmakers.) The service is generous with your content, which is DRM-free. You can download the video up to five times, or stream it up to three, with each stream expiring after six hours.

Anyone familiar with the way the popular comedians Louie C.K and Aziz Ansari released stand-up specials online for a few bucks will recognize this format. But Splitsider hopes to reel in up-and-coming artists who may not have the built-in fan base, exposure and reach of Mr. C.K and Mr. Ansari.

Splitsider Presents joins a few other contenders in the space, including VHX and Vimeo, which are coming up with ways to let filmmakers and artists sidestep traditional distribution deals to release their work directly to fans.

As someone who does not own a television or plan to buy one, I find it thrilling to come across ways to watch new and interesting things on my browser and various tablets. The site was easy to use, the stream high-quality. Best of all, I didn’t even have to leave my couch.