Hollywood is slowly coming to grips with new economic opportunities to sell content over the internet. Movie and TV studios are actively seeking out contracts to distribute media files through the web. Both download to burn and media files that are playable in mobile media players are starting to crop at some of the big services such as iTunes and it's rumored Microsoft is getting in the on that game with Urge and the rumored project Zune.
But now for the first time you can legally buy downloadable Hollywood movies to burn to DVD or playback in a mobile media player. Was there was any doubt that mainstream Hollywood would follow closely after the porn industry? CinemaNow has unveiled its download-and-burn movie service that now includes mainstream Hollywood films.
It's a new way that studios can make extra money from older titles. That's all that will fill up CinemaNow's content, for now. The service will only include about 100 older movies like "Charlie's Angels", "Full Throttle" and "Scent of a Woman". So, if you're anxious for newer DVD titles that you just burn yourself you'll still have to wait. But this is an important and encouraging step.
CinemaNow and its primary rival Movielink have lacked the download and burn business model thus far. Studios are still concerned that by distributing burnable files they'll widen the doors on piracy as they'll invite users to burn multiple disks when they've only paid for one.
CinemaNow Chief Exec Curt Marvis said of the new product release:
"This is probably the most important product release we've had since we started in 1999. Customers have been asking for a long time to be able to burn disks, and they want to play them on their DVD players."
It was only April that studios started the download to own business that gave new life to services like CinemaNow and Movielink. But back in April they could only sell movies that played back on the computer only. The burn to DVD is a tremendous step even though selection is limited to so few movies.
The DVD downloads will be the film's DVD release in a file you can burn yourself. The download will cost $8.99 and will include extra programming that was part of the DVD such as interviews etc. For most of the movies included in the selection you can probably find the actual DVD in a bargain bin somewhere for less and a lot less effort.
Despite my own reservations about this particular step, it's surprising how fast this area is moving. But it's still going to be a long haul before we're downloading movies you can burn to HD DVD, Blu-ray or Holographic Disks from the Internet. There is still just too much money to be made selling pre-packaged shiny disks.