Dale Dietrich
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Hollywood to Sell (not just rent) Downloaded Movies on Same Day as DVD Release

Categories: Big Media Makes ProgressiVOD/iTVMilestones

Six major studios are starting U.S.-based Internet services to sell movies that buyers can download and keep for watching at any time. New movies will cost about $20 to $30 to download; older titles will cost as little as $10. The downloads will be available on the same day that the DVD is released – quicker than rentals, which are put online about 45 days later and cost $2 to $5. Customers will be able to store movies for as long as they like on computers, as well as transfer them to two other computers and burn them on DVD, but only for copying to the two other PCs. Note: Regrettably, burned DVDs will not be playable on conventional DVD players. These DVD’s will be protected with Microsoft’s Windows Digital Rights Management software.

Sources: Herold Tribune | New York Times | L.A. Times | CNet | BBC | MSNBC | Times Online | Fox News | FT.com | Washington Post | Business Week | USA Today | MovieWeb | Red Herring | MSN Money | ABC News | Forbes | CNN Money | Reuters | Engadget | China Daily | San Jose Mercury News | Hollywood.com | SiliconValley.com | Examiner.com

Dale’s Comment: This is a solid step in the right direction but the Holy Grail of online movie purchase/rentals remains movie downloads to TV-centric devices such as a TiVo, XBox 360 or PS3 where the user calls all up movies via an imdb.com-type interface on their TV (or their PC) for download and ultimate interactive viewing through home networks on their TVs. Given that Windows Media Center functionality is to be built into Vista, and the XBox 360 will be able to access content from Vista-powered PCs, I expect a movie download service announcement from Microsoft around the time Vista is released (in early 07). Selling (rather than renting) first run titles on DVD release dates, is a major shift for Hollywood and they must be given credit for finally making this decision. But, in my opinion, they are making a blunder by not permitting users to burn copies of PURCHASED movies to DVDs for playback by the owner on conventional DVD players.

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