Saul Hansell at the NY Times:
Six major studios plan to begin selling movies over the Internet today that buyers can download and keep for watching at any time.
Starting today, nearly 300 films will go on sale through Movielink, which until now has been largely an online rental site. Movielink (owned by Warner Brothers, a unit of Time Warner; Sony Pictures; Universal; MGM; and Paramount, a unit of Viacom) will offer films from all of its owners and from 20th Century Fox, owned by the News Corporation.
Another movie site, CinemaNow, will start selling downloadable versions of about 75 movies from Sony, MGM and Lions Gate, which owns a large stake in CinemaNow. Curt Marvis, the chief executive of CinemaNow, said he was talking to other studios about selling downloads.
Apple, Amazon.com and other online retailers are also busily trying to cut deals with Hollywood to sell downloads, according to several studio executives. In general, the studios want to make downloads available on largely the same terms, in as many places as possible.
There’s more by following the link, but as usual when Hollywood gets involved with the Internet there’s some wackiness involved: the movies are expensive and can only be played on Windows PCs. Moreover, that’s only one specific PC for CinemaNow or up to three PC’s for Movielink due to the copy protection. All this plus the hour or more download time on a high speed Internet connection makes me wonder exactly what these folks were thinking. Cliff Edwards at BusinessWeek Online sums it up nicely:
One wonders whether many consumers will be attracted to paying as much as twice the price for a movie that they can get in the local Best Buy or Wal-Mart on the very same day without having to wait for at least an hour to download (using a very fast broadband connection). And at least the physical media will play in just about any DVD player.
Seems to me that with all the dough studios will save from not having to deal with physical media and returns–$6 to $8 by some studio execs count–the greed factor shouldn’t be quite so high. I’m all for convenience, but not when I feel like someone is picking my pocket while pretending to give it to me.
As a result, I’m awarding these services my coveted “Thumbs Down” rating. Too bad – they could have been contenders.