Movielink and CinemaNow: Hardly Worth the Effort? No, Movielink and CinemaNow Suck

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.

5 Replies to “Movielink and CinemaNow: Hardly Worth the Effort? No, Movielink and CinemaNow Suck”

  1. Bittorrent is great, but it doesn’t solve every problem associated with movie distribution over the internet, and could potentially even add issues.
    For example, the protocol demands that the downloading clients give back bits. Many ISPs are set up so download bandwidth is much greater than upload bandwidth. If many many people were bittorrent-ing movie downloads legally it would greatly affect the networks they belong to. And if the technological and business issues were resolved at that level, it would still require that the individual users be willing to share their network connections.

    And bittorrent really only helps when everyone wants the same file. If I am looking for something obscure or underappreciated, and no one else (or relatively few people) are hosting that particular file, then I get no gain over just downloading direct from a single server.

    For maximum effectiveness it also requires proper configuring of personal firewalls and network routers, which is admittedly getting easier with UPnP and other modern network components, but still presents a major hurdle for many users who just want things to ‘just work’.

    I absolutely agree with the poor offerings both services now provide in terms of content, format, distribution, and use rights. But looking at it from an objective, technological standpoint, as much as possible, I don’t believe there is any simple solution to the issues.

  2. I would like to add that even though Movielink and Cinema Now are highly limited…Vongo is even worse. You are paying for vastly less content than those two services AND you can copy cable broadcast content FREE legally on your PVR or PC video card, with TV inputs, and put it onto your laptop with ease. Why pay for what you can do for free…and with ALL the cable content…not just Starz. Vongo charges for what you are legally entitled to do which is copy broadcast content free for personal use. Plus they encode at low rates…so you even can do it better by copying through your cable service. Also, instead of paying for a crappy video download with limited right…just buy the DVD and play it…hmmm…we already know that. haha

  3. Now they both are bombing for those of us that upgraded to Media Player 11. Both can’t handle the 11s DRM Licenses and so they just DIE. Then since neither service has any real service, now one is there to help correct the issue and the website is void of any help too.

    So you (I) paid for nothing by any hour and a half of aggrevation. STAY AWAY FOR THESE SERVICES. I used Netflix and it is so much better.

  4. WARNING!!!! Read the fine print about purchasing cinemanow

    4.3.3 ………Once you have downloaded a working copy of a piece of Retained Content we will not refund your purchase price or provide another copy of said piece of Retained Content in the event that your computer crashes, your hard drive fails, the file becomes corrupt or in the event that said piece of Retained Content does not play, for whatever reason.

    This means you will be required to maintain your PC forever (unlikely) to have unlimited usage. Better buy a DVD at least when you buy it you can watch it any place you like…..

    I even redownloaded a movie and while in download status click the watch now and it told me I was screwed DRM SUCKS and any company that uses it sucks as well.

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