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VOD Is Great, But It Needs to Be Even More Convenient

4 Apr, 2006 By: Stephanie Prange

The last month or so has brought exciting announcements in the video-on-demand realm. Disney's Moviebeam relaunched with new backing and some same-day DVD and VOD releases on its set-top box system. CinemaNow and Movielink this week also launched same-day DVD and VOD releases on their respective Web-based services, with a download-to-own feature.

The only problem with both is you need something extra to get the movie to the TV. With Moviebeam, you must purchase a set-top box system for $199.99 after an introductory rebate of $50. It also requires a one-time service activation fee of $29.99. Also, if you don't live in one of the 29 launch cities, you're out of luck for now.

With Movielink and CinemaNow, you've got a PC-based download that doesn't transfer easily to your TV. If you like watching movies on computer and have lots of hard-drive space, this is a good option. But getting it to your home theater is a lot harder than popping in a DVD.

My guess is that these are just studio tests to see how popular the VOD option will be. Studios are sticking their toes in the water to test how hot the market is.

The key now is usership. If customers bite in sufficient numbers, studios will learn important lessons about the future of digital delivery that could lead to more palatable services. If consumers don't bite, look for the DVD and Blu-ray or HD DVD to continue to rule the living room.

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