Renting Movies

February 20th, 2009 by Potato

It is, I’m lead to believe, not terribly difficult to download movies from the internet these days. Like music in the 90’s, piracy threatens to significantly impact the movie industry. And just like then, locking content up and making it more difficult for paying customers to access their content is not going to work. Instead it’s going to be all about pricing: the buck-a-song price point was the magic point where people (ok, people with money — there’s not much you can do about students) would just as soon buy a song legally as go to the trouble of downloading it peer-to-peer. So the same logic should hold true for movies — there’s going to be a price point where people will pay to buy/rent a movie digitally as long as it isn’t stupidly restricted.

I was playing around with my Xbox 360 and saw that there is the ability to download movies from Microsoft Live. 440 “points” for a new release like the Dark Knight (in standard def — high def has a further premium). The “points” system obfuscates the price, by design, but that works out to $6.30 (plus tax). This is for a “rental”, which tells me that there’s going to be some weird limited usage DRM on there, and I can’t say I find that price point the least bit competitive with even movie rental stores, let alone piracy (ok, it might be competitive with Blockbuster which I haven’t been to in over 5 years, but not with the smaller places).

Netflix and are getting closer. You can’t be as spontaneous as with the corner video store or video-on-demand, but you can rent a movie for less than half the cost of the Live service, or depending on the turn-around time for mailing DVDs, perhaps a tenth of that cost. For myself, I’d happily max out my internet connection renting movies to my Xbox if the price point was somewhere closer to $2/movie, assuming the implementation was reasonable. At north of $7 after tax that’s gone right past stupid into crazy; it’s not even pretending to compete with regular rentals now (as much as even people like my parents hate having to return movies, even they would balk at that price) and is somehow equating your Xbox “experience” with going out to the theatre, at least in price.

One Response to “Renting Movies”

  1. Ben Says:

    I love Video 99 on Yonge @ Finch. It’s been $4 for as long as I can remember, and it still is (or $2.30 for non-new releases). That’s not bad, and it was doing a booming business tonight when I was in there. I never went to Blockbuster, it just seemed dumb to me, yeah I can keep the movie for a week but it costs at least 50% more, and I only want to watch the movie once, so why would I need it for a week?

    As for the pricing on Microsoft Live, well, it seems to me that despite the cost, there are a lot of dummies out there willing to pay it. And I’m not even talking about people with lots of money, just people who don’t really think about it, they just do it. Unfortunately those morons keep the price high for the rest of us.