updated 08:05 pm EDT, Fri May 21, 2010
VOD deal would step up movie releases quickly
Movies could reach video on demand much faster in the near future, according to new tips [subscription required]. Following a proposal by Time Warner at the Cable Show that movies reach VOD within 30 days for a premium price of $20 to $30, a leak at the WSJ has Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner willing to sign onboard. The fast-track service, if agreed to, would go live as soon as the fall or early 2011.
Some, such as Fox and Paramount, may not be immediately willing to offer the service.
The approach would be controversial as it would potentially jeopardize traditional theater business by reducing the incentive to visit instead of simply staying at home. Theater owners have been known to object to the policy and have threatened to refuse movies released under policies, even with significantly longer three-month periods.
It may also have a hurtful effect on digital releases. Services like iTunes and Netflix are often given a delay between a movie's release on DVD and its rental option as an attempt to steer customers back towards physical copies and traditional VOD. While it could potentially shorten the time when movies are available online, it could also be used to create an artificially longer buffer time between VOD and purely digital.
Sony has experimented with pre-DVD releases in the past by renting directly to TVs for a premium, but no outside studios have so far agreed to the model.