Tuesday, April 04, 2006
What costs a lot more than its offline equivalent, takes more than an hour to download and can only be played easily on a computer? Answer: A movie purchased legally online.
Hollywood is patting itself on the back for making movies available on Movielink and CinemaNow at the same time they become available on DVD. But I doubt if consumers will care, or young people downloading illegal copies of new releases from file-sharing networks will hit the pause button. In fact, the move seems more targeted at the courts and lawmakers than potential buyers.
After all, who's going to pay Movielink as much as $30 for the latest movie release, when they can buy the DVD for a lot less at a retailer? In addition, the studios are not making it easy to watch the download on a TV. If you don't have a Media Center PC, then you'll need special cables and settings on your computer. While that might be OK for techies, the average consumer will probably consider this a rip off starting with the price.
On CinemaNow, the movies are cheaper, but they can't be watched on other computers or a backup burned onto a DVD.
It's obvious the studios are not ready to start building an online market for movies. Instead, these initial moves are more geared to show the courts Hollywood isn't afraid of technology, and is serious about someday offering an alternative to piracy. At the same time, studios hope their efforts will make it easier to convince lawmakers to pass harsher penalties for piracy.
So while the move is being hailed as a new chapter in online movie distribution, it's really just more of the same. Rather than encouraging more legal downloads, the studios remain focused on punishing pirates and leaving consumers waiting for reasonable alternatives.