Movie Downloads Cometh--or Not?

Cliff Edwards

Slowly, oh so slowly, major Hollywood players seem to be warming to the idea of digital downloads.

Universal, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Paramount and Twentieth-Century Fox are finally allowing consumers to download and own a copy of major film releases, through their Movielink service And CinemaNow, a staple of Windows Media Center pcs, has struck a similar agreement with Sony and Lionsgate.

Problem is, consumers once again seem to be taking a back seat to the corporate bottom line. New releases on Movielink are expected to run between $20 and $30, according to news reports, and you'll be stuck watching them only on computers, since the DVDs you are allowed to burn do not work in standalone players.

One wonders whether many consumers will be attracted to paying as much as twice the price for a movie that they can get in the local Best Buy or Wal-Mart on the very same day without having to wait for at least an hour to download (using a very fast broadband connection). And at least the physical media will play in just about any DVD player.

Seems to me that with all the dough studios will save from not having to deal with physical media and returns--$6 to $8 by some studio execs count--the greed factor shouldn't be quite so high. I'm all for convenience, but not when I feel like someone is picking my pocket while pretending to give it to me.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.