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New Alternatives for a Public That Likes to Watch

2 Sep, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Well, it looks like the race is on.

Just as Internet video-on-demand (VOD) service Movielink is upgrading its features -- including offering its first set of Disney titles for download -- Buena Vista Home Entertainment is getting ready to test the EZ-D expiring disc from Flexplay.

And just as both businesses try new ways to please consumers, Forrester Research principal analyst Josh Bernoff is measuring DVD for a shroud. He's not ready to give discs the last rites quite yet, but in his new report, From Discs To Downloads, he predicts that ever-shrinking space in homes, combined with ever-better cable and satellite technology, will spell the end for DVD before the high-definition disc formats ever even get off the drawing board.

Perhaps Disney is testing Bernoff's theory without even knowing it, because of the seven announced Disney titles launching on Movielink and the eight testing on EZ-D, four are the same. The titles are The Recruit, 25th Hour, The Hot Chick and Frida.Coincidence? I think not.

I'm not sure exactly what the folks at the Mouse House expect to learn, but I doubt it's an accident that the supplier will test both technologies with overlapping titles. Both technologies offer a limited viewing window -- 48 hours after breaking the seal on an EZ-D and 24 hours after launching a downloaded movie -- and both could offer a significant pot of gold for the studio if they can threaten traditional rental.

What seems clear is that Disney is investing heavily in disposable movie technologies, whether the expiring format is physical or virtual.

I'm sure the entire industry will be watching … at least until their viewing window self-destructs.

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