Hollywood to sell movies online – Monday, April 3, 2006

It is 4 years and 4 months later and look where we are now. CinemaNow, Movielink and other services have all failed.  What’s a studio to do?  Blockbuster will be filing for Bankruptcy shortly and they plan to re-emerge from Bankruptcy to do what? Put kiosks into stores next to other kiosks? I feel for the debt holders who have lost quite a bit of money. I wonder if Blockbuster ever paid attention to what happened in the music business?  Apple certainly did. Maybe Steve Jobs will have a partial answer comes September 1st.  And now Google will be offering pay-per-view movies.

youtube movies

Hollywood to sell movies online
Monday, April 3, 2006; Posted: 5:38 a.m. EDT (09:38 GMT)

Brokeback Mountain” will be one of the first films available to download.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Hollywood studios will start selling digital versions of films such as “Brokeback Mountain” and “King Kong” on the Internet this week, the first time major movies have been available online to own.The films can’t be burned onto a disc for viewing on a DVD player. Still, the move is seen as a step toward full digital distribution of movies over the Internet. Six studios said they would announce Monday that sales will begin through the download Web site Movielink. The site is jointly owned by five of the seven major studios. Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM will offer some first-run and older titles on Movielink. New films will be priced similar to DVDs — between $20 and $30 — while older titles will sell for $10 to $20. In a separate announcement, Sony and Lionsgate said they will sell films through the CinemaNow site. Only films from The Walt Disney Co. will not be available, although both services say talks are ongoing.

“Digital delivery hasn’t arrived until the major studios allow home ownership, and now they have and now digital delivery is very real,” said Jim Ramo, Movielink’s chief executive.

Studios will sell some new films online the same day they become available on DVD. Most films will be made available within 45 days. Studios began renting films online several years ago as a way to combat illegal downloading. Movies have been available through the Internet 30 to 45 days after hitting video stores, with rentals lasting just 24 hours for viewing primarily on computer screens.

Digital delivery of video grew rapidly after Apple Computer Inc. began selling episodes of TV shows through its iTunes online store last October. This year, devices powered by new Intel computer chips and TV service delivered over the Internet will allow more consumers to watch Web video on their TVs instead of their computer screens, a key factor in downloading to own, analysts said. Studios are being cautious about selling films online in part because DVD sales produce more profit than box office receipts.
But studios are also preparing for the day when major retailers such as Wal-Mart and Amazon.combegin offering their own movie download services.

“The important thing is to embrace the future, respect the economics of DVD but move forward into digital delivery,” said Ben Feingold, president of Worldwide Home Entertainment at Sony Pictures. The films available on Movielink can be stored indefinitely on a computer hard drive or transferred to as many as two other computers. The movies can be played on a TV if the computer is part of a home network. A copy can be burned to a DVD as a backup. Discs can be played on up three PCs authorized by Movielink but cannot be viewed on a standard DVD player because of special security coding.

Consumers will not be able to transfer the films from a PC or laptop to a handheld portable viewing device. But that capability should be available sometime within the next year, Ramo said. Films on CinemaNow will be playable on just one computer. The company said it eventually expects studios to allow consumers to burn movies on DVD and transfer them to portable devices.

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The ‘commodization’ of the movies

Movies. We see the commercials/ spots on TV,  ads in the newspapers , posters on the bus stops and digital ‘moving’ billboards, hear them tout them on radio and of course we still discuss them at the office and home.  We still go to the theaters to see them, then we go home and wait for them to be available to us on…? well, not really DVD‘s anymore. Blockbuster is going away, we really don’t run to Best Buy or Fry’s to ‘rent’ them. Maybe RedBox in a grocery store too. Some of us now are using Netflix, iTunes and some in major metropolitan cities can find them for $5.00 on a table on a street corner (illegal copies albeit, if you know where to look). And fewer of us get them from Torrents, and even less from the newsgroups. But what has happened over the past 10 years to the DVD business has caused a major shift in perception for all of us. Its no longer the ‘event’ it used to be to wait to get a movie in DVD form to bring home and watch on a weekend night. Years ago, there weren’t 15-20 movies in the theaters at once. Movies started a run in the theaters and most lasted a few months. Now, most last a few weeks, if that. Or never see a theater at all. Back then, we could peruse Blockbuster along with our neighbors to grab a copy and return it the next day (if it was a new release).  There was a sense of pent up demand to get that movies when it came out on DVD. That no longer exists. What happened? Where did that great feeling of waiting for that movie you liked so much in the theater to come out on DVD. I miss that ‘looking forward’ to a film at home. How did Hollywood lose that edge with all of us?  They blinked.

Today, even ‘Avatar‘ released on DVD or to Netflix, iTunes, etc. is a non-event. True, Hollywood tries to make it an event. They really do advertise the DVD release. Target and Wal-Mart carry it but years ago Target and Wal-Mart were not even in the running for carrying and stocking an ‘Avatar’.  I think to some extent that the loss of the trips to the local DVD store and the swing to the Targets and Best Buy seem to lend a feeling to each movie released that there a sense of ‘mass commoditization’ of the movies.  You just don’t ‘run’ to Wal-Mart for a film. You can’t even rent them at Wal-Mart or Target – they must be purchased.  To compound this, movies are being released sooner than ever before. This gives one a reason to stop before going to a theater right away to see a movie. Given the cost of a ticket, popcorn etc., a babysitter (if you need one) and you’re into 1 movies for nearly $ 100.00 if you go with 1 other individual. Ouch!

Years back, certain theaters carried certain films. There were ‘art’ houses (for independent films) , there were theaters that carried foreign films ( Goddard, Truffaut) and there were retro houses and mainstream theaters. With costs so high these days, theater owners must give way to larger bigger well advertised releases.  When was the last time anyone saw an ad on TV, newspapers, bus stop, radio, etc for a foreign language film from a well known director. It used to be Directors could lure an audience into the theaters alone.  It didn’t matter who was in the film, what the special effects were or if there were any at all. Few directors today can do this (Cameron and a handful of others can, but not too many).

Movies are a commodity today. One released after another, not much difference between them all. And once they are out and available after the theaters, they are all but forgotten.  We have no more real teams of actors and actresses that are featured in several films  (except for Tarrantino and now Rob Zombie, who do this).

I miss all of this. Do you?

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Sshhh!…what’s real reason why Comcast is buying NBC? TV Everywhere of course.

G.E.’s decision to sell NBC Universal reflects the shifts in fortune that are battering the media business, especially network television. The broadcast division of NBC Universal could lose big, a remarkable downturn for a network that had earned roughly $400 million in past years.

Problem: the Internet has fractured audiences and few viable business models have emerged for the distribution of content online.

What the new Comcast venture looks like: Comcast will contribute its own cable channels, which include Versus, the Golf Channel and the E Entertainment channel, and a modest amount of cash, about $5 billion, to a joint venture in which it will own 51 percent. G.E. will retain a 49 percent stake, and would likely reduce its ownership over several years and in theory, Comcast-NBC Universal will be a company separate from Comcast’s cable assets.

Some interesting possibilities could be:

It could use its power in film, with Universal Studios, to expand video-on-demand offerings by altering movie release windows to make movies available on demand the same day they are released on DVD.

It could use its power in film, with Universal Studios, to expand video-on-demand offerings by altering movie release windows to make movies available on demand the same day they are released on DVD to all active basic cable subscribers that buy HBO and SHOWTIME or purchase at least 1 on-demand film per month.

Buying Netflix: Stream movies through this service coupling subscription on cable with certain consumer benefits through Netflix, i.e. day and date with DVD or perhaps even a scheme to stream films just released in theaters 1 time only to ‘frequent flyers’ or renters of the service, but at a big ticket price on-demand.

But here is the real reason why Comcast is buying NBC: TV Everywhere. “TV Everywhere” model, which promises to give their subscribers exactly what they want: anytime, anywhere access to any TV content. They have to do this to keep their customer bases and compete. In a TV Everywhere world, the role of the multi-system operator is diminished. Your cable or satellite TV provider will no longer be your only (legal) means of watching the current episode of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. In a TV Everywhere world, Curb Your Enthusiasm will be available on literally thousands of websites and mobile apps, as long as you can authenticate yourself as a paying cable or satellite subscriber with the HBO package. Comcast risks becoming a “dumb pipe,” providing little more than bandwidth. To avoid that fate, Comcast recognizes that it needs to move upstream and own or control the content itself, thus NBC/Uni. More to the point, a consumer COULD elect to turn off his cable basic subscription and turn around and subscribe to TVE thereby allowing him to see his basic cable channels but on his PC, phone etc. Now that Comcast owns content and some of those channels it can monetize the consumer whether or not they subscribe to the cable in the house or not.

In a TV Everywhere world, it will be a terribly crowded space, with a ton of noise and websites with similar content. The sites that perform best will be the ones that create the best user experience for viewing TV content – and right now, that’s Hulu ( and who knows, maybe Clicker ?). If Comcast buys NBC, Comcast will own about 1/3 of Hulu, providing an ideal launching pad for TV Everywhere it has a very passionate and loyal audience.

This online world is a very splintered and exceedingly difficult to measure, especially when you are asked to sell advertising against the content. The real problem is a lack of tools to properly bring the right economy of scale to online which equates to buying media in a traditional way. Therefore, instead of trying to monetize a cable channel online one by one, with TVE, you can monetize the whole package in a similar way that cable already is monetized. Its a structure already understood by the consumer now. Bundle a bunch of cable channels for a small monthly fee and let consumers have access to them everywhere, including home or NOT.

The Internet while very big, does not yet command the equivalent kind of media rates and fees that Cable or Network gets today. No agreed upon means of measurement exists to give advertisers a definitive ‘rate card’ for the internet. There is no Nielsen for the web, (yet, although it was announced yesterday by Nielsen that eventually, there will be). comScore, even though they do a great job with data can’t extrapolate the data to equate to viewers ‘watching a TV set’. Making the comparison when placing an ad on a video online and the same ad on TV impossible to compare TODAY. Hulu streamed 855 million video stream last month. What does that really mean? Did all 855m viewers who watched those streams watch ALL of each stream or were many of them counted as they ‘surfed’ through Hulu clicking on various videos for a few minutes or even seconds – were they counted among the 855m? What does 855m stream equate to in Nielsen ratings/eyeballs? Does anyone really know? Nielsen despite its shortcomings has some measurable statistics for this, but its still not apples to apples.

Furthermore, Hulu still has a long way to go to prove it can monetize its audience as effectively as its parent companies can do with programs viewed on-air. Why? Its uniques are flat. Hulu’s uniques are scarcely better than they were 6 months ago. Unless the unique number jumps in the coming months (which I doubt it will), Hulu will have to meaningfully enhance its value proposition to grow its audience (can you say “Hulu to-the-TV-via-Xbox/Roku/Apple TV/etc?”) says Will Richmond of Videonuze (Nov 30th 2009). He goes on to ask “What happens to Fox’s programs on Hulu should Rupert Murdoch expand his focus beyond his newspapers’ online content going premium? What if Disney decides to launch its own subscription services? What if Google or Microsoft or Netflix (or someone else) decides to open their wallet and make a bigger play in premium online video?” And, these questions become somewhat less mysterious now that Comcast has bought NBC/Universal.TV will NEVER be the same again.

Comcast chart above courtesy of VideoNuze.com

Posted via email from williamsager’s posterous

Cloudy With NO Chance of Meatballs for $24.95

Someone over at Sony must be watching too many 3 Stooges episodes late at night to think up a promotion like this.

What a terrible value for consumers. I guess their DVD outlets complained so instead of changing their thinking they upped the 24hr. ‘rental’ price. Yes, that’s right. If you’ve got a Sony Bravia TV you too can rent ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ for the incredibly fair price of $ 24.95 for a 24 hour term. Don’t everyone rush at once. And, those renters will be proud to know that they got to see the film BEFORE their friends got it on DVD….ooooohhh. Sony thinks that there’s a rush to see THIS film 28 days before you can see it or buy it on DVD (Jan 4th, 2010) for less than $24.95 and own the plastic disc and box? I feel really sorry for the suckers who rent it on Jan. 3rd, 2010 the day before its DVD release. If they wait just 24 more hours they can OWN it for less.

Sony, why not offer consumers something of value? Netflix list of 20 Sony films for free? 3-6 month pass to EpixHD online? Something on iTunes? Anything? This is ridiculous.

Virginia Execution of of John Allen Muhammad SHOULD be on PPV

Since we still live in ancient Greece and execute individuals in front of a private audience, we might as well open this up to the privacy of our own homes. So, if you wanted to, you could ‘buy’ on demand the execution. The imagesproceeds should go to the families of the victims. Morbid? Perhaps. However, technically do-able and my hunch is that it would be widely subscribed to. Each stream would be individually watermarked across the entire screen with a see-through watermark dissuading further distribution, but not preventing it. OK, what do you think?