Sick of paying for TV shows and movies?  You could soon get them for free, and all without the legal implications that come with downloading them via BitTorrent.  It’s call HitBliss, and while the name leaves something to be desired, it would seem that the Lexington, MA company might be onto something that is at the very least worth trying.

HitBliss isn’t that much different from the web’s other video stores; you can rent movies and buy TV shows via your computer for a flat fee.  Needless to say, Xbox, iTunes, Amazon, and others provide this service in spades.  However, what HitBliss offers that the rest of those aforementioned services don’t, is the ability to watch the TV shows and movies for free.  Hulu, which I didn’t mention, inserts commercials every few minutes – HitBliss doesn’t, sort of.

HitBliss instead allows its users to opt-in to commercials that are specifically targeted at their profile – this is called “Earn Mode”.  Advertising content ranges from traditional commercials, to film trailers, to polls. And to ensure you’re an engaged user, the HitBliss app can detect if you hit the “mute” button, open a new window or tab, or walked away from your computer by asking “are you still there?”, which is followed by a countdown clock.

HitBliss tracks your activity, including what ads you skipped or navigated away from, though I’m not sure if they track and utilize your viewed shows and movies, though it’s more than likely.  That said, advertisers can see if the user was a match for the advertisement and what kind of behavior was elicited as a result; namely did they click-through or use the coupon.

According to The Verge, it wasn’t difficult to earn $5 in credit – enough to rent a feature-length film – “by watching a couple of TV-length commercials and a long movie trailer.”  So to The Verge’s point, the process seems to favor the customer, and doesn’t make the task so arduous that they’d rather just fork over money.

For now, HitBliss, which apparently launched into a private beta today, is only available on Mac, PC, Android, and iOS.  So those with Smart TVs, set-top streaming boxes and video game consoles will have to wait.  Also, since the service is currently limited to just 480p, it’s probably best suited for tablets and laptop computers, though HitBliss says they’re working on HD content.

And speaking of content, the company says they’ve got deals with three major studios (Warner Brothers, Paramount, and Universal), is close to signing two more, and has contracts in place with Starz and TV production houses to offer TV episodes the day after air, and Hollywood movies within the same window they’re released on DVD or online.

It goes without saying, but HitBliss clearly faces some stiff competition.  Netflix customer base is already 33 million strong (world wide), and at just $8 it’s a pretty reasonable threshold to watch movies and TV shows without limits or interruptions   However, Netflix rarely carries content that has been recently released on DVD, and barring a small number of premiere titles, their selection is often relegated to older or B-quality content.  Though that’s rapidly changing, especially since they’re producing their own shows now.

So, do tell: would you watch a handful of commercials to watch a movie or TV show for free?  Hulu to a large degree covers my TV needs, but I might give it a shot for a recently released DVD film.  However, at 480p I’d be hard pressed to do it again and again, especially since I consume 99% of my premium content on my 46-inch LED.



Christen Costa

 
Grew up back East, got sick of the cold and headed West. Since I was small I have been pushing buttons - both electronic and human. With an insatiable need for tech I thought "why not start a blog focusing on technology, and use my dislikes and likes to post on gadgets."