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How Is Sony Going to Get "The Interview" Online? We Have Some Ideas.

Asks the pros or DIY? Maybe both.

Sony Pictures
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Some people are going to be able to see “The Interview” in theaters, after all.

But Sony’s controversial comedy about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is only going to be in a couple hundred theaters across the country, at least for now.

Meanwhile, Sony has said it’s looking for “more platforms” for the film, which many industry observers believe means “streaming on the Web.” CNN’s Brian Stelter thinks we’ll hear more about that today, and Re/code has heard similar rumblings.

So how would that work? Let’s speculate a bit.

Assuming Sony wants people to rent the film this week, the most obvious approach would be to get a big online video store to carry the movie. The New York Times says Sony was hoping Apple would pick up “The Interview,” but “the tech company was not interested, at least not on a speedy time table.”

But there are other companies that rent movies online, and the most obvious one would be Google, either via its Google Play store or YouTube, the world’s biggest video site. (Yep, YouTube rents movies, though it knows you might not know that.)

Yes, touching “The Interview” means taking on some hacking risk. Then again, the people who work at Google are often very confident. Maybe they’ll be okay with some risk.

Another option for Sony, which wouldn’t be mutually exclusive: Renting the movie online via its own site. Sony already owns Crackle, a streaming service with a not-very-big collection of movies and TV shows, along with fun stuff like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” Web series.

And while I’ve seen reports that say Sony decided not to use Crackle as an outlet because it’s a free site, that doesn’t seem convincing to me. It’s 2014, and if you want to sell something online there are lots of companies that would love to help you do that. Ask Stripe or Braintree.

Or, alternately, Sony could just throw up a new site, dedicated solely to “The Interview,” and rent it from there. Perhaps it could use the streaming infrastructure it already uses for Crackle. Or maybe it would want help from Major League Baseball’s streaming video service, which has already signed on to support Sony’s Web TV project.

Does that sound like a tall order for a company that’s already dealing with a lot of tech problems? Could be.

Then again, you don’t have to be a tech mastermind to sell a movie online anymore. Louis C.K., who is very funny but is not an international technology and media conglomerate, did it back in 2011. That worked out very well.

Maybe he can offer Michael Lynton and Seth Rogen some tips.

This article originally appeared on

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