How much would YOU be willing to pay to be able to download your own copy of a brand spanking new movie the day it’s released in movie theaters? What if I told you that the file only comes in a heavily restricted DRM format? That wouldn’t allow you to play the movies on your Macintosh or Linux box? How about the fact that it’ll only play on your PC and can’t be streamed to your television set? How much would you be willing to pay now? The movie studios think you’ll be so pleased to be able to download a movie on release day that they’re only going to charge you DOUBLE what it would cost to buy the DVD. Ain’t that great? They seem to think so:
“We think this is a great consumer offering that complements the DVD release,” said Rick Finkelstein, Universal Pictures’ president and chief operating officer. “If somebody wants to get their content online and create a digital library, this gives them the opportunity to do that. This is another way for consumers to access movies.”
Piracy fears also prevent online services from giving technological early adopters what they really want — the ability to watch downloaded movies on their televisions. That’s because the studios insist that downloadable movies include rigorous safeguards on copying. Users, for instance, can burn a DVD of a downloaded movie, but it will play only on a PC.
I’m sure there’s a ton of people out there just dieing to build up a digital library of movies that can only be watched on their PCs that’ll happily spend twice the cost of a standard DVD release. I’m sure monkeys will fly out of my ass any second now too. But hey, we elected Bush twice so maybe there is a huge market for this sort of thing. So much for DRM enabled content making for cheaper products.
Finkelstein said people eventually would be able to watch downloadable movies as they would any other DVD. But rather than wait for the technology to burn it securely, Universal is rushing to make more than 100 movie titles available online to provide a legitimate alternative to Internet piracy.
“At this point, we wanted to get out there,” Finkelstein said. “This is the only way we could do it at this time. The intent and goal is to allow people to also be able to have a DVD they could watch on their DVD players.”
At least they’re aiming for a point where you’ll be able to download, burn, and then watch it on your DVD player. Of course that’ll probably entail you buying a new DVD player that has whatever future DRM will supposedly make for secure DVDs.
Ramo said download-to-own movies would sell for $20 to $30 — up to double the $15 that discount retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. charge for DVDs, with downloads of classic titles for $10 to $17. He said the premium reflected the convenience of the service and the flexibility to transfer the digital download to two computers, as well as the ability to create a backup DVD that also would play on computers running Microsoft Corp.‘s Windows operating system.
In short, Mac and Linux users: Suck it. That’s what you get for “Thinking Differently,” you bastards.
I’m no psychic, but I’m willing to predict this model won’t last long. I’m guessing it’ll be a matter of weeks before someone has cracked the DRM (if it’s not cracked already) allowing folks to strip it from the files making them burnable and playable on your standard issue DVD player and then it may catch on with some of the die-hard movie buffs that would be willing to shell out that kind of cash just to be able to claim legitimacy, but I don’t think your average movie goer is going to be a big fan of this approach. iTunes has been a success because it was cheap, a concept that appears to be lost on the movie studios.