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December 23, 2006

Xbox 360 video download buzz


Ben Fritz at Variety reports that the Xbox 360 video download service announced in November may be a surprise hit:

In a topsy-turvy year for the digital download biz, a videogame service in just a few million homes is ending 2006 with more momentum than the world’s biggest e-tailer.

The relative success of video downloads on Microsoft’s Xbox Live and disappointment of Amazon.com’s Unbox point to two factors that differentiate Xbox from Amazon and its many other competitors — consumers who download a movie want a simple way to watch it on their TV, and those with high-def TVs want high-def content.

Thanks to the Xbox 360′s direct connection to a TV and the console’s focus on HD content, Microsoft can deliver both. Though exact sales figures aren’t available from any Web site or studio, insiders agree that it’s the most, and maybe only, positive story in digital movie downloads this year.

Many in Hollywood had high expectations that Amazon’s strength in DVD sales would spur the nascent Web download biz. But the Netco faces the same problems as competitors such as Movielink, CinemaNow, Guba and AOL that launched before it: It’s difficult for consumers to burn downloads onto DVD (save for a few titles on CinemaNow), and it’s tricky for all but the most tech-savvy to watch downloads on a TV.

Part of it is the tech savvy Xbox 360 demographic and part is the ease of watching a movie on a box already connected to a TV (which says something about where Windows XP Media Center systems are installed). There aren’t really any hard numbers, but the buzz is that despite the limited audience, Xbox 360 download numbers are equal to any of the PC download sites. While that’s certainly good news for Microsoft, it also illustrates the current sad state of Internet video downloads.


Posted at 10:00 am. Filed under Amazon, AOL, CinemaNow, Companies, Guba, Internet, Media Center PC, Microsoft, Movielink, Video Downloads, Video Games, Xbox 360

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August 25, 2006

Guba goes low on movie download pricing


Red Herring:

In an effort to jump-start their video pay-per-download service, Guba said Monday it has slashed the prices for buying or renting premium television shows and movies from their site.

Movie buffs can buy new studio releases for $9.99 on the same day the movie is released on DVD. Catalog movie titles cost $4.99, and TV show episodes are going for $0.49. And users can get a 24-hour movie rental for $0.99, the same price as a song on Apple’s iTunes.

Previously, new releases of films like V for Vendetta, Syriana, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, cost $19.99 to buy, and were not available for rent.

“Nobody knows what the right price is for this stuff online,” said Guba CEO Tom McInerney. “The studios don’t know, even Apple doesn’t know.”

Mr. McInerney said the promotion has been a hit with users. Traffic on the site has increased 500 percent since the promotion began last week. “Clearly pricing does matter,” he said.

I’m not shocked at that news.

Note that per the press release:

Technical requirements: GUBA’s Premium service uses Digital Rights Management (DRM) copyright protection software developed by Microsoft. Only devices with current Windows Media technology can play GUBA’s Premium content, including most Windows PCs.

Restrictions: GUBA Premium content is only available to users in the US due to international copyright ownership restrictions. Purchased videos are owned in perpetuity but cannot be burned to DVD due to current restrictions of the DRM software.

That’s a change from the previous Guba DVD limitation and actually the Guba FAQ indicates that their content comes with various different licensing terms. It just appears that this movie special is one of the more restrictive. Frankly, I’m not sure that I really would want an extensive movie collection tied to a particular PC, but maybe if you just view it as a on-demand video rental alternative, it’s OK.

Catherine Holahan has a review at BusinessWeek online which makes a similar assessment, but observes that Guba has a lot of free content that might be worth investigating.


Posted at 10:44 am. Filed under Bargains, Companies, Guba, Internet, Video Downloads

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June 27, 2006

Warner Bros selling TV shows and movies via Guba


Greg Sandoval at ZDNet:

Warner Bros. Entertainment on Monday began selling full-length feature films and TV shows over the Internet via Guba, one of a legion of companies presenting amateur-videos on the Web.

Guba customers can rent a film for $1.79 per day or pay $9.99 to own an older title. Newer movies cost $19.99 (actually TV shows rent for $1.79 and movies for $1.99 a day – ed.). All the content is protected by Microsoft-developed digital rights management software, the companies said.

The agreement is the latest sign that at least some in Hollywood may be ready to deal with Internet sites that some in the movie business consider a threat. Warner Bros. last month announced that it had chosen file-sharing technology from BitTorrent to distribute films.

The difference is that the Guba content can be copied to DVDs:

Under the Guba-Warner Bros. agreement, people will be able to make a copy of a video onto a DVD, but, because of industry licensing agreements, it can only be played on the computer from which it was burned. Wuthrich said he hopes consumers will be able to watch the copied DVDs with a DVD player within a year or so.

while purchases from BitTorrent cannot be copied to DVDs at all.

For Guba, the partnership is a coup. Like most other competitors in the video-sharing space, Guba has seen its public profile eclipsed by the juggernaut, YouTube. Thomas McInerney, the Guba’s CEO, said he hopes the Warner Bros. partnership will help the company stand apart from rivals.

There is some interesting background on Guba by following the link, but the bigger story is studios embracing download services in the apparent hope that the widespread availability of legal content will cut down on piracy. It might even work.

Note that Warner Bros. did a separate deal with corporate cousin AOL for distributing old TV shows for free.

Update 8/23: This post was heavily revised.


Posted at 10:27 am. Filed under BitTorrent, Companies, Guba, Internet, Microsoft, Video Downloads, Warner Bros., YouTube

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