Flixster – Participatory Communities Still Win

1 02 2007

Flixster recently closed a competitive financing round closed and is showing big breakthrough traffic numbers in the past year, as TechCrunch reported in separate posts within hours of each other.

I like what Flixster is doing.  They’ve chosen a select niche that as a founder commented in above blog posts: average ratings don’t mean much, so a place where you can discuss and get recommendations from others is what their community is about.

There’s open questions about whether they can aggregate enough advertising.  Investors see a value in this growing community.  Flixster as it stands doesn’t take much of an editorial approach to movies (differs from RottenTomatoes, my personal favorite for spot-on, one second movie choices)- it’s a perfect platform for mainstream movie premieres.  Critics say that the Flixster crowd is young and mainstream- this proves actually a positive when it comes to aggregating large, movie ticket buying audiences.

Or, it can serve as a social medium for a more participatory launch to take place, similar to MySpace profile advertising.  This seems to be more natural, however.  Every movie has a movie page.  On MySpace, every product has a user profile – slightly unnatural and counter-productive.

iLetYou is a participatory community, but you participate by providing both the market and the discussion.  For us, it’s not just enough that you are able to rent from the widest variety of stores.  It’s really important that the variety of stores allows the personal nature of recommending movies to come through- Vincent’s picks anyone?

The lesson here is that MySpace for dogs, MySpace for Wall Street and so on is a misnomer.  The successful “MySpace for ______” companies are those that simply take the participatory medium and meld it completely to its specific use.  Beyond that, it’s then up the companies to figure out a business model.  The participation age is not hype in Web 2.0.

I’ve always been intrigued by the movie business from end-to-end not just the glamorous side, ever since I was a teenage employee for Hollywood Video.  It has come full circle as I watch and participate in the evolving movie business.  iLetYou now looks to take the video store network into the participation age of the Internet.

Congrats to Flixster.  We’ll be watching them as we dive deeper into the DVD, game and movie space.

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