April 23, 2018

RBdigital Introduces Unlimited Streaming Video, Enhanced App

RBdigital New AppRecorded Books, an RBmedia company, has launched an enhanced RBdigital app, enabling library patrons to access audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, comics, streaming video, educational content, games, and more, using a single interface on Apple iOS, Android, Kindle, and PC devices. In conjunction with the March 14 launch, the company also announced an unlimited streaming video model, allowing users to “binge watch” TV shows, feature films, documentaries, concerts, and other content from providers including Acorn TV, IndieFlix, and Qello. The unlimited viewing model was developed in an effort to emulate trends in consumer viewing habits, company officials explained.

“It’s about enabling library patrons to consume video like [they would using] subscriptions in the for-pay world, like Netflix,” John Shea, chief product and marketing officer for RBmedia, told LJ. “When you look at what has happened in [consumer] markets…in terms of [media] consumption, people used to buy music or buy a video for a [one time] price. But a huge amount of consumption has moved to the Netflix model. You pay once and you get unlimited consumption from there.”

Recorded Books expects to see a similar transition in the library market, and developed a pricing model that the company believes will facilitate these viewing habits. When a library patron uses the RBdigital app to access streaming video content, the library is charged $2.99. The patron can then watch as much additional streaming video as they want during an ensuing seven day period, with no additional charges.

“It ends up being pennies per view” for patrons who watch multiple shows or movies, Shea said. “A patron can consume as much as they possibly want.”

After patrons apply a recent update to their RBdigital app, they’ll see streaming video available in a carousel menu below audiobooks, magazines, and other content—as long as their library offers video as part of its RBdigital package.

A key goal of the app’s new interface was to help “library patrons discover services that they had no idea their library offered,” Bruce Lovett, VP of marketing for RBmedia, told LJ. Library content and services can become siloed in vendor apps, he noted. Once they have opened a vendor app, patrons can’t browse reading, listening, or viewing options available through another vendor. Previously, a regular reader of RBdigital’s magazines may have been unaware that their library also offers streaming audiobooks, for example. The new app consolidates the diverse selection of content available through RBdigital’s publishing partners, giving users a better sense of the range of digital content their library has to offer.

“We’ve created a…really easy to use API, where we work with partners to make it easy for them to serve out their content” through the app, Lovett explained. “One of the messages that we’ve heard from a lot of libraries is that they like to serve a diverse set of patron segments,” he said, adding that a patron drawn into the app looking for a popular book or movie might also discover the library’s Spanish language entertainment selection, for example. “Everyone loves the blockbuster book or the blockbuster movie, and we do that as well, but we’re also trying to meet the needs of libraries that serve diverse communities.”

Matt Enis About Matt Enis

Matt Enis (menis@mediasourceinc.com, @matthewenis on Twitter, matthewenis.com) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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