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Vivid Bows Adult Downloads to DVD

15 May, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Vivid Entertainment Group May 15 began offering select adult titles for download to DVD and playable on standard DVD players.

While downloads and streams of adult content aren't new, the ability to burn content to a standard DVD disc playable on devices beyond the PC marks a significant new step for packaged media.

The Los Angeles-based adult entertainment producer and distributor made available 30 movies through AllAdultChannel.com, which is owned by CinemaNow, the online service founded in 1999 by Lionsgate, Blockbuster Inc. and Microsoft.

Titles can burned to an optical disc for $19.95 each and feature the usual DVD features such as bonus material, deleted scenes, commentary, trailers and anti-piracy software.

Marina del Rey, Calif.-based CinemaNow and rival Movielink last month launched separate download-to-own services of major studio content, including Brokeback Mountain, Fun With Dick and Jane, and Aeon Flux with Charlize Theron.

Unlike the adult content, Movielink and CinemaNow downloads include the ability to transfer the movie to two other PCs and burn it to a DVD (in Windows Media), which is not playable in a standard DVD player.

Steven Hirsch, co-CEO of Vivid, said the download-to-burn option would not replace adult packaged media in the short term. He said Vivid would continue to street DVD titles at retail before offering them for download.

“It is important for the adult industry to be out front with new technology,” said Hirsch. “We don't have theatrical releases, and we don't have Wal-Mart and Blockbuster. It is important for us to look for alternative revenue streams while at the same time being sensitive to our retailers.”

Richard Dougherty, media analyst with the Envisioneering Group, said the major studios continue to explore the download-to-own standard-DVD option and are largely hampered by quality control concerns and piracy.

“There are some adult entertainment movies you might not miss 30 seconds of,” said Dougherty. “You might miss 30 seconds of The Last Samurai. If [a studio] movie has a hiccup in the middle of it, whom do you take it to?”

He said the adult industry continued to represent a technological arrowhead for the entertainment industry.

Dougherty believes offering burnable content to DVD would not circumvent conventional retail as much as it would act as a sales adjunct to studios.

He said downloads would allow studios the ability to avoid “shooting in the dark” with costly over shipments of select titles, which negatively impacted DreamWorks Animation with Shrek 2 and Madagascar.

“This is essentially disc-on-demand and mitigates that risk,” Dougherty said.

He said studios could take underperforming TV shows and offer select episodes for download to spark interest among a different viewing audience. Dougherty said it is possible studios would offer the option by the holidays, but more likely in 2007.

“It allows them to go out with a scale they can't really justify with disc replication,” Dougherty said.

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