Overstock.com, home to discount prices and the oddly erotic commercials promoting them, has announced that it will be launching its own streaming video service to compete with Amazon, hoping that the same drive to find bath towels for a few cents cheaper will apply to looking for movie and TV content. As announced today by Overstock CEO Patrick M. Byrne, the online wholesaler plans to debut video-on-demand later this year with around 30,000 titles, then eventually branch into streaming acquired content and even original programming. Much as Overstock cuts out the unnecessary middleman when it comes to department store mark-ups, the new initiative is intended to eliminate the superfluous satire from Onion articles.
Byrne claims that Overstock is already Amazon’s closest competitor when it comes to online retail, so he believes it stands to reason that it should also get into the media business—and eventually dominate it through the power of discounts, as all media superiority will be determined in this strange age we live in. “We think our loyalty program is better than Amazon’s,” Byrne said. “We give you five to 25 percent back on what you spend. So we pay people back for their digital downloads.” You could then apply some of that money toward, say, a reasonably priced shag rug, available exclusively to members.
Furthermore, Byrne says Overstock plans to use an analysis of what its users search for “to determine what kind of movies and TV shows to make available.” For example, if it finds that its users search for discount wedges, it will program whatever it can get from Bravo, probably. If they search for “Native Dream Catchers,” it will program all eight seasons of Walker, Texas Ranger. And if they search for liquidation deals on butterfly-shaped necklaces, it will program an infrasonic sound that causes blood vessels in the brain to burst, creating a quick and efficient kill.
Both the VOD and streaming services, as well as the production of original Overstock content, will be handled by third parties that Byrne was not ready to announce yet, no doubt waiting for tomorrow’s Flash Deal on necessary artistic compromise.