MovieBeam Using Datacasting to Deliver High Def Video on Demand

Moviebeam Unit

MovieBeam offers 1st high-definition movie rentals – Yahoo! News Reuters is out with a piece today on MovieBeam’s attempts to offer the first HDTV Video on Demand downloads to consumers. MovieBeam also announced more today on their recent infusion of $48.5 million in cash from Disney, Cisco, Intel and their venture capitalists.

“MovieBeam is poised to dramatically improve consumers’ movie-rental experience with its movies-on-demand service that debuts today across most major metro areas in the U.S. (see today’s related announcement). MovieBeam’s unique mix of breakthrough content rights, technology, relationships and assets combined with the expected continued growth in the popularity of consumer electronics devices and alternative content distribution channels is compelling to the new investors.”

Saul Hansell over at the New York Times asks the all important question though, will people pay $230 to hook up yet another new set top box to their television just to be able to then pay additional money for VOD movie downloads — even in high def? It is also important to note the fairly consumer unfriendly feature of the service that will require you to watch your downloaded movies within 24 hours.

I think a better strategy would be to try and incorporate this technology through an already existing platform such as TiVo or Media Center that offers more utility and value to the consumer beyond just downloading movies.

Akimbo was recently integrated into the Media Center platform and would seem to represent a logical way to offer a service like this but Akimbo as of yet has not been able to offer HDTV content over their service.

JupiterMedia Analyst Michael Gartenberg is also quoted in the New York Time’s coverage expressing skepticism on the service: “Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with Jupiter Research, said he was skeptical that people would pay more than $200 for a box from MovieBeam, plus a fee per movie, when cable systems are offering movies on demand at similar prices through their digital services.”

This is the most recent rebirth of Moviebeam which PVRBlog reported last April as having been pulled from test markets and going offline.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    And if you read the details on their site, only 10% of the movie offerings will be “widescreen, dolby 5.1” (meaning HD movies) so 90% of the content will be a Windows Media 9 compressed versions of the DVD version. MovieLink or Akimbo should have made a deal with Disney to run this service on Media Center PC’s or the Akimbo box, and elminate the $200 set top box requirement.

    And the antenna receiving system uses NTSC transmissions over the national PBS network, not the new ATSC digital system currently being implemented. Not sure if that limits bandwidth for the service though.