Christ, £20, are they kidding, this is pathetic... okay its a move in a direction they should have initiated umpteen years ago, but £20 is just further proof of price fixing in the uk market.
Universal Pictures is preparing to launch an online movie download program in the United Kingdom, with a twist that's becoming familiar. Partnering with Lovefilm, Universal will be offering "download-to-own" purchase options on select movies. In simple terms, customers will be able to download two protected copies of a movie while they wait for a DVD copy to arrive. The program will begin on April 10 with Universal's King Kong, and 35 other movies will soon be available. They will be priced from £19.99 ($35) for new releases, and £9.99 ($17.50) for older offerings. The service will use Windows Media DRM, and the movies will not be transferable to other users or computers. The DRM will also prevent playback on Macs, Linux, iPods, and PSPs.
Marketers love the arrangement, and we will likely be seeing similar tie-ins with services in the US. Comcast, for example, has announced a plan that would allow subscribers to order get on-demand movie access by ordering a DVD through the cable provider. In one way, tying movie downloads to DVD sales gives the studios the best of both words.
In recent years the so-called "release window" between theatrical debuts and general DVD availability has averaged four months. Once a movie is on DVD, the negotiations begin for cable network broadcast rights, on-demand services and the like. The studios typically send a movie to on-demand before licensing it for network broadcast, even to channels such as HBO. There is broad agreement in the industry that this is the best way to maximize profit in the post-theater period of a movie's life, but the marriage of on-demand with DVD sales may end that. If on-demand access is made available "early" to consumers who agree to pay a premium for the movie in order to receive a copy on DVD, it's a win-win situation in the eyes of the studios.
Another approach is being championed by Twentieth Century Fox. The company announced at CES that they were going to shorten their release window to 60 days, and that they would make DVDs and on-demand offerings available at the same time. Some independent studios are embracing the concept of simultaneous releases, but the major studios are generally opposed to the idea.
Netflix, which offers services similar to the UK's Lovefilm, has been talking about movie downloads for a long time. The company has said that licensing problems have prevented them from offering a service, however. In the 2005 annual report, the company said that they "intend to offer our subscribers the choice of receiving their movies on DVD or by downloading, whichever they prefer." It's anyone's guess as to when Netflix will be able to negotiate the licensing minefield to offer downloads, but we suspect that a tie-in similar to that proposed by Comcast and Lovefilm is what the studios would like to see. Whether or not Netflix wants to complicate their business model in this way is another question.
omg this is bullshit, £20 for a movie that you have to watch on the computer you downloaded it for... say you upgrade your computer, will you still be able to watch it or will it be £20 down the pan, and will it be worked so once the dvd si available the downloaded file will no longer work? my god this is such utter crap, someone was telling me at work the other day that all downloads are gonna be paid for soon, i needless to say jsst laughed in his face defiantely, i guess this was what he was talking about
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