Crackle, the free streaming video service owned by Sony, is rebranding as “Sony Crackle” as part of a move to maximize advertising revenue across the company's media properties.
Speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour, Crackle GM Eric Berger said the name change is meant to harmonize the site with the other properties and platforms Sony sells advertising against.
“From a sales perspective, we sell Playstation as well, and a variety of other Sony properties,” said Berger. “We’re part of that family, we’re part of the Sony Pictures Television Networks organization, and we just wanted to crystallize that.”
Berger said the
name change should be completed by this year’s upfront season.
Crackle, which launched in 2004 as Grouper, was acquired by Sony in 2006 and renamed Crackle the following year. The site has a mix of original content such as the series “The Oath” and the movie “Joe First 2,” as well as Sony library content like “Seinfeld.”
It currently has a monthly audience of 18 million viewers, the company said.
Unlike competing services from Hulu and Netflix, Crackle has always been free to watch, using ad revenue to monetize itself.
As consumers cut or trim the cord and seek streaming alternatives, Sony is betting that a free service, with premium, well-known content, will lure most households, at least for an initial check-out. Adding the Sony name more prominently could help align the site with the popular Playstation brand, which has become a robust advertising platform on its own.
Sony has tried to turn the Playstation into a smartphone hub as well as a gaming platform, and launched a Playstation streaming service last year. That service, Playstation Vue, features a number of traditional cable channels, at a price that is slightly more accessible than a traditional cable bundle, and with a better user interface than most set-top boxes.