Could studios begin releasing theatrical movies to a "premium" VOD service?
I think in my entire life, I've used VOD maybe twice. Maybe? I'm sorry but I'm just an old school guy who likes the feeling of having something tangible. But what if movie studios began releasing their theatrical movies on VOD well in advance of the DVD window and while they were still running in theaters? Then you might just count me in.
Turns out the major Hollywood studios are currently collaborating on a plan tentatively titled "Premium VOD," which would basically serve to offer up some movies that are wrapping up their theatrical run on VOD. It would slice the current exclusive theatrical window of 120 days to less than half that; a mere 45 days after release, a movie would be available on VOD. So you're telling me that right now I could be watching SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD in HD on my couch without having to wait until November for the Blu-ray? Umm YESPLEASE.
Of course there's a lot to be figured out here. First of all, with the going rate for a VOD at about $4 for a 24-hour rental (based on what Amazon is currently charging for ROBIN HOOD), the price would most certainly increase to a proposed $25 for a rental. While it may seem expensive to pay $25 to rent a movie, think that if you and your buddy went to see that same movie in a theater, you'd likely be paying close to $25 anyway.
The move is designed to help disappointing DVD and Blu-ray sales while at the same time combating piracy (the theory is that consumers would be less likely to turn to piracy if they knew a HD VOD option was going to be available).
The studios love the idea, cable providers like DirecTV, Comcast and Time Warner love the idea and consumer testing seems to show that audiences will love the idea. So what's the hold up? Well for one, stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart are worried this will even further cut into their home video sales. And theater owners are ready to blow a stack at just the thought of this idea.
But will Premium VOD really replace going to the movies? I'd love to watch a movie AGAIN at home or perhaps catch an indie movie that never opened up by me, but nothing will ever substitute for the real thing. The darkened theater, the big screen, the communal audience experience...
Would you pay $25 to rent SCOTT PILGRIM or THE EXPENDABLES right now? Would a Premium VOD service make you any less likely to go to a movie theater or buy a DVD or Blu-ray?