What type of service would motivate you to download movies?

    by Mark Glaser
    June 26, 2006

    Now that downloading music through services such as iTunes has become a common approach to buying music, I wonder what it would take to convince a skeptical public to download movies in the same manner. Most people watch home movies from DVD rental services or from on-demand cable or satellite services. But the promise of downloading movies is that you get the movie directly to your computer, then possibly can burn that to a DVD to watch it on your larger TV screen. So far, the digital rights management systems have kept that scheme from becoming a reality, but there’s been a lot of talk about Apple offering movies via iTunes in the near future for $9.99 a pop. So tell us what would motivate you to download movies from an online service. Would you want to be able to burn it on a DVD? What price would be fair? Would you want high-definition movies? Or do you think movie downloads aren’t worth the hassle? Share your thoughts and the best ones will be featured in the next Your Take Roundup.

    • Given my current lack-luster “high speed” connection through a leading cable company, it would literally be faster for me to run up to the corner video store, grab the movie I want and be back before the download was complete. And that doesn’t even begin to factor in time needed to burn said download to a DVD before being able to view it on my television. Unless of course, I’ve spent a large sum of money on a fancy media PC, a high quality television capable of handling the computer’s digital output (most bargain priced TVs at Best Buy and other retailers won’t do this), and then gone out of my way to setup the computer near the home entertainment center for ease of connection.

      Either way, downloading movies would be a terrible hassle for my family, and expensive as well. Most movies we want to see we typically see once. Movies we want to own are few and far between (perhaps we buck the national trend of movie buyers) so renting a movie makes much more sense economically for us than does purchasing the movie for repeated viewing.

      Perhaps there are plenty of people in larger urban areas with better internet connections, more technically equipped, and possessing the money to burn that would enjoy being able to download their own movies. But for now, we’ll stick with the video store.

    • I think there are 3 main issues here:
      – price
      – portability
      – technology

      Starting from the latter, I’d like to see some kind of deal between my broadband ISP and the content provider, so that I could get better service and download speeds for using the service. This would reduce download time and improve my browsing experience – like an “Internet milage” program. Secodnly, portability is also important – I want to be able to watch the movie not only on my computer, but also on my TV (using a DMA, burning a DVD or whatever), my iPod, my cell phone, etc. So I should be able to have my content on any format and whenever I want. It would also be a good idea to have my private backup disk online, too, so that if I’m on a business trip, for example, and I want to watch a movie, I could download it again and watch it easily with no need to carry backup CDs or storing many movies on my laptop. Least but not last…of course this would cost a maintenance price. IMHO, in this case the best business model would be a monthly fee (since the backup server maintenance and ISP deal would have a fixed cost) + pay-per-download costs. It would be interesting to have some free downloads every now and then too (i.e. iTunes download of the week), even if it was for older movies. Payment forms would also be very important, so it’s very important to partner with local players to ease the payment process.

    • I would love to be able to download movies directly to my TiVo and then transfer them from there to the laptop, my PC, a blank DVD, whatever. I would even be open to renting movies that downloaded straight to the TiVo and then stayed there for however long – I’d love to see a Netflix-type setup, where I can have X movies downloaded at one time, and once I mark one as “viewed,” it gets removed from the TiVo and the next one in my queue downloads instantly.

    • “Starting from the latter, I’d like to see some kind of deal between my broadband ISP and the content provider, so that I could get better service and download speeds for using the service. This would reduce download time and improve my browsing experience – like an “Internet milage” program.”

      -Roberta Zouain

      That’s all well and good that you would like to see the ISPs and content providers get “in bed” together. However, the likelihood that it would require us, the users, to pay a “small fee” is quite high for such a service. I wouldn’t be willing to pay extra for increased bandwidth, which a deal between an ISP and content video provider would more than likely bring to the table given most of the major Telecos arguments for stopping passage on a Net Nuetrality bill. As for the rest of your comment, I’m not sure if you meant to say an Internet “Millage” or Internet “Mileage.” I’m not sure which as they both could be applicable; pay extra in the form of a millage (like you would with a school millage) in order to increase services provided, or join a mileage club (don’t those usually require yearly membership fees?). Either way I think this solution might be best left for some good old fashion VC money.

    • free

    • j-dub

      I watch a lot of movies, 4-5 a week! Most are older. I rent these two for one dollar, they don’t use any of my hard disk and the store is between me and my job. I don’t see any benefit to downloading movies at this time. I guess I am unusual in that I don’t even have cable TV. My TV is across the room from my computer so it would mean adding new cable. Perhaps if I could download directly to my TV, FAST or STREAMING I would find it usefull but not at this time.

    • Doug Lockwood

      In principle, I love the idea of downloading movies, but we’re certainly not ready for this yet, as the other commenters have mentioned.

      I have been so frustrated with downloading digital music that I’m starting to wish I never heard of an MP3 player. I can’t stand having so many arbitrary restrictions on how I can use the files I’ve “bought” that I simply won’t pay for any more. If downloading movies is anything like downloading music – requiring special software to view or buy the movie, restricting the number of machines I can view the movie on, being incompatible with different brands of players, and otherwise limiting how, when, or where I can actually use the file I’ve paid for – I’m not interested. I’d much rather buy a DVD, even if it costs a bit more, and actually own the movie, rather than paying for something that I can’t use anywhere and any way I want (without violating copyright laws, of course).

      There are quite a few barriers yet to overcome, but the idea does have potential for the future – if the purchaser can actually own the file and play it how, where, and when they want.

      I did like Jordan’s suggestion to offer a NetFlix-style movie rental service – particularly if the machine can download the movie “in the background” so you don’t have to waste your computer time and resources.

    • Arne C Eastman

      I want choice.I want documentaries. I want things that are not mainstream. I often joke that I crave “Portugese Railroads of 1947” (that’s a joke, dear reader). I am tired of Hollywood deciding what I like. I am tired of bimboes and PC. I have a watercooled computer with almost a terabite of diskspace. I want the film people to make a good living so I’ll pay, but I want megachoice. Downloads must be cheaper than trips to the rental and plastic disks. In the middle of a horrendous snowstorm, 3am in the morning, I want my movie to come through the phone while I sleep. I have the hardware and I will pay. But out-of-mainstream is a requirement.

    • Philip

      Not necessarily ‘free’, but cheaper than what you pay for movies (both renting and buying) at the store.

      Let’s face it, the consumer has to perform a considerable amount of work preparing the video for viewing that isn’t having to be done at a factory (i.e. burning discs, printing labels, etc.). This should count for something in regards to end user cost.

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