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THE MORNING BUZZ: Just What Can an “Expiring' DVD Be Used For?

27 Oct, 2002 By: Kurt Indvik

I am curious to see how Flexplay Technologies' new “expiring” DVD ends up being used in the marketplace. You might recall reading here about how the new technology differs from conventional DVD only in that it has a limited viewing window following removal from its packaging. After the allotted time the disc's content becomes unreadable on DVD players. The expiring DVD was introduced at the MTV Video Music Awards Latin America, inserted into the awards show program. The DVD contained music videos and other content from five of the nominated artists.

I am not going to get a brain sprain trying to develop the financial business model as I write this, but the manufacturer is promoting the Flexplay DVD as a rental option, as well as a marketing platform. I wonder about either.

Flexplay, on its Web site, promotes itself as a competitor to the rental market at the same time it makes an effort to distance itself from the old Divx technology that, as we all know, applied some of the same principles but failed because of technological limitations. Flexplay discs can play on any DVD player and will not have the limited distribution system Divx had.

But be that as it may, can retailers and studios make money with this technology? Perhaps there can be a decent margin created on a one-time-use product, but wouldn't it necessitate a huge volume of discs and transactions? I'm not sure mass merchants are interested in getting into even this form of quasi-rental business, notwithstanding Wal-Mart's test of the online rental business. It all comes down to the cost structure of these deals and I look forward to talking with Flexplay in the near future to have them share some of their ideas in this area.

There is some sense to using a self-erasing DVD to promote such things as new music artists or a new TV show. Offering a sampling of new artist singles from a label with a music video or other graphics that can be sampled one or several times is a great marketing tool to entice users to go out and buy a new album. Seeing parts of a new pilot episode might entice new viewers (although why make this erasable?). But I am not sure there will be a model there to entice people to buy (rent, really) such discs for even nominal fees when they can “own” the music by downloading it online, though Flexplay says its technology may help to dissuade piracy.

I am curious to hear any ideas you might have to the use of “expiring” DVDs. Email me.

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