Movielink and CinemaNow: Hardly Worth the Effort Influential Technology Columnist Rob Pegoraro at The Washington Post is out with a nice pan on the two primary internet movie download services MovieLink and CinemaNow and he is less than impressed.
“Even if the video-quality and playback-rights problems could be fixed, Movielink and CinemaNow would still suffer from the movie industry’s “value chain” business model, in which different companies take turns at reselling movies. In this case, the deals studios have with pay-per-view and pay-TV services require each site to stop selling most new releases after a certain point.
Customers don’t think or act like that; when a popular title vanishes from the shelves, they’re justifiably puzzled. (A newer movie-download service, Starz Entertainment Group LLC’s Vongo, is even more of a pest about these schedules; its software automatically deletes downloaded movies after their release windows shut.)”
I’ll put it a different way. Movielink and CinemaNow suck. There are three major problems with the serivces.
1. The quality sucks. At least with Netflix I get DVD quality. With Movielink and CinemaNow I get crap (save a few boring IMAX HDTV titles). Nobody wants to watch crap on that brand spanking new 43 inch high def plasma.
2. People want instant on. Pay and it’s there. People don’t want to wait for download times.
3. The price is too high. I’d rather wait for the Netflix DVD to arrive and pay the same price for that than for the crap that you call a movie that I download.
How should they fix this?
Easy. Offer HDTV downloads of every single movie that exists. Rent them at $4 a piece. Use Bittorrent download technology. Let people keep the HDTV movie on their hard drive as long as they want. It never expires.
People obviously will wait for their DVD to get to them by mail because the higher quality represents better value. You can get by without instant on by allowing people to queue up movies and have the internet do the work while they sleep at night. Even if it’s a six hour download, people don’t care if it’s happening while they are sleeping. Like Netflix it would just take some planning.
The problem? Hollywood is paranoid about you having any sort of HDTV copy of anything. And they are just as scarred about anything that’s got the term Bitorrent anywhere associated with it.
Too bad too. But I guess they’d rather just have people like Rob Pegoraro tell mainstream America that their services are hardly worth the effort and people like me call their service for what it is crap.
And lest you chide me for Apple’s crappy video downloads, I’d dump them in the same boat. The only difference there is that Apple’s already got a boatload of suckers buying iTunes. Something unfortunately Movielink and CinemaNow don’t have the luxury of enjoying.