Part of launching a streaming video service is owning the domain name with which most viewers can reliably expect to find the service via the web. For instance, it could be considered a smart move for Netflix to own, say, Netflix.com, or for HBO to own HBOGo.com. For Sony-owned Crackle, however, it appears getting ownership of the domain name behind its upcoming Crackle Plus premium offering is proving a bit difficult, if only because the gigantic mega-corporation doesn’t feel like paying $10,000 to secure it from the person who already owns it, according to a report from Variety.
CracklePlus.com is owned by a Pakistan resident named Muhammad Abdullah, who registered it in October 2017. Without divining his intentions — Variety reached Abdullah by email, who said he wanted “to start my own entertainment website” — it seems clear that there’s an intention to sell the domain for the right price. The website advertises the Crackle logo and is asking for $10,000 — that’s about as cut-and-dried as it gets.
Yet Sony doesn’t want to pay. According to Variety, the company tried to negotiate the price down using a service called DomainAgents, which specializes in the buying and selling of domain names, including those owned by individuals outside the US and that may be involved with registered trademarks. Apparently, that process has fallen through, as Abdullah doesn’t want to budge on his asking price. Sony does not own the CracklePlus trademark, giving Abdullah some leverage here.
Now, there is a matter complicating this whole process, which is that Sony no longer majority owns Crackle. Just last week, Sony Pictures Television, the subsidiary that operated the free streaming site, sold its stack to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment (CSS Entertainment), the media arm of the consumer goods and self-help brand that started as a series of books back in the early ‘90s. Sony and CSS now have a joint venture under the name Crackle Plus that will include a premium version of the streaming service as well as Popcornflix and other media-related ventures.
It’s not clear how they arrived on the name Crackle Plus or what the reasoning is there, as the service is said to remain free and continue to focus on ad-supported video streaming. But there may be some original content and Sony Pictures Television-owned properties, so it could be an effort to make it appear more robust in the vein of Hulu Plus and Apple’s new branding for its Apple News and Apple TV services. But the first step is acquiring that domain name. For Sony and CSS Entertainment, $10,000 feels like a fair price to secure your trademark and website.