In addition to being free, another advantage Ficto has over Quibi, the pending short-form mobile service from Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman bowing April 6, is that Ficto offers interactive programming, according to CEO and co-founder Mike Esola.
“We’re doing stuff that they’re not doing, emphasizing interactivity,” he said. “If you happen to be in your 20s today, you look for things that are more than a passive experience.”
Ficto’s interactive features include live-stream, viewer geo-location, live chat, instant polling, choice-based narratives, 360 viewing, augmented reality (AR) characters and click-through e-commerce.
Ficto offers shows and series ranging from original dramas and licensed film adaptations, to comedies, docuseries, talk shows, game shows and news. The service is launching with 30 shows, averaging 5 minutes per episode, and anywhere from three to 10 episodes in a season — with an additional 20 shows already in production, and more added to the content pipeline weekly.
Ficto developed a unique technology similar to Quibi’s turnstile technology where editors retain creative choice of their series in portrait mode frame-by-frame while also having the ability to stream horizontally, according to Esola, who spent 15 years as a Hollywood talent agent.
Among the programs on the service is “Ingress: The Series” by Niantic, developer of mobile AR games Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. It’s a narrative show that includes episodes interwoven with the real world game. The show will allow viewers to seek out clues at real-world locations with augmented reality, according to Esola.
“Storytelling is incredibly important at Niantic and we are always looking for interesting ways to expand on the narrative of our real world mobile games,” said “Ingress: The Series” director Spencer McCall in a statement. “Ficto is creating a platform that is a perfect fit for diving deeper into the mystery of Ingress, and we’re looking forward to creating fun and interactive episodes layered into the gameplay experience which players can enjoy on their mobile devices.”
Other content includes:
- “Represent,” a docu-series that follows the women who are ready to take the sport of surfing to the Olympic stage, even as the 2020 games experiences a rare postponement;
- “East of La Brea,” executive produced by Paul Feig, a series that tells the untold stories of Los Angeles through the lives of two very different Muslim women from working class backgrounds;
- “Date & Switch,” a modern dating show with live polling that lets the audience decide who the bachelor or bachelorette chooses;
- “Brothers From the Suburbs,” a comedy series that chronicles the highs and lows of three African American teenagers coming of age in an affluent, suburban, white, private school community;
- “Nothingman,” which follows Otis Tremmel, a selfless, community-minded man with a complicated past, is now homeless and living on L.A.’s Skid Row;
- “Tom & Grant,” about some heartland bank robbers with a bad plan;
- “Real Artists,” about a young animator in the near future who is offered what should be her dream job, but discovers the truth of the modern “creative” process;
- “Hermit,” a comedic series that explores the daily life of a woman who hasn’t left her apartment in six months; and
- “Dakota,” a musical comedy-drama feature film with an all new original soundtrack by international pop-star Phoebe Ryan, who also plays the titular character.
A full roster of available shows can be found on Ficto’s shows page.
Ficto is among the first streaming services to pay royalties, according to the company release, utilizing blockchain-based smart contracts creating “a radical new transparency payment layer for all parties involved in production.” Ficto automatically pays royalties in directly to artists based on how often their content is viewed, according to the service.
At the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, the company launched Ficto Studio, designed to work with CMOs, brand marketers, and agencies to help them design immersive brand promotions that leverage Ficto’s interactive capabilities. Ficto’s branded promotional options range from exclusive title or category sponsorship of a series, to custom augmented reality (AR), geo-location, click-to-purchase, product integration, launch events and creator collaborations. Ficto Studio’s custom sponsor programs provide comprehensive performance metrics, including viewer engagement, interactions, social sharing and listening as well as interactive polling to drive instant, two-way dialog with Ficto fans, according to the company.