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VOD on the March Under the Watchful Eye of the Studios

6 Jun, 2006 By: Stephanie Prange

Last week, I moderated a panel on digital downloading for our fifth annual Home Entertainment Summit: DVD's Nine Lives. While it's apparent that most of the digital downloading going on is still in the experimental stage, it's quite surprising how many experiments studios seem to plan.

During the course of the panel, one speaker said burning to DVDs playable on any DVD player would happen in the next year or so. Another said there would be more deals like the one Warner made with file-sharing service BitTorrent, formally an illegal downloading enemy.

Certainly, studios seem way ahead of the consumer. Downloading executives said their business was miniscule, and that it would take at least a decade for the business to make up a sizeable chunk of the home entertainment movie business.

Why are studios preparing the digital ground? Executives have listened to the cautionary tale of the music business in which downloading came as a unpleasant surprise.

“Unlike the music business executives, who wanted it to go away, we knew it wasn't going to go away,” noted Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president David Bishop during the presidents' panel.

Studio executives have instead chosen to cultivate the business, even in its seed stage, so that in the end they get growth pruned to their needs, rather than a wilderness of illegal downloading.

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