Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Movie Downloads to DVD

CinemaNow, the uninsipiring legal download service (for movies), has announed a "Burn to DVD" program for a select number of films. The service lets you take a movie you've purchased through CinemaNow and create a DVD with the film on it, so that you can now watch the film in your living-room TV (or wherever), rather than watch it on your computer monitor. Films available to "Burn to DVD" will take longer (2-3 hours rather than 1-2) to download, because they need to be converted to an MPEG format that the DVD can read, and it seems that it includes all the content on the physical DVD (menus, extras, etc.).

The selection of films isn't great, and certainly does not include the latest sets of releases, and pricing is that great either. (My random choice, BubbleBoy, costs $14.99 either through Amazon or through CinemaNow. BTW, did you know Jake Gyllenhaal was in that? Of course not, no one watched it.) So, it doesn't sound like such a great service, does it?

Well, maybe not now, but this is the first step in an inevitable march to on-demand purchases of films, similar to what has happened with music. iTunes hasn't killed the CD (and neither has file sharing), but there is an ever-growing market of people who want to get songs digitally. The same thing will happen with films, and while CinemaNow doesn't look like a great deal today, something like it will eventually get new home video releases (and maybe even theatrical releases) someday, and offer pricing and video quality that makes it compatible with DVDs in the same way MP3 downloads compete with CD sales.

Apple showed the music industry that the way to compete with illegal file sharing was to offer usable paid content at a reasonable price, and while this is no big deal now, neither was iTunes when it first launched.

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