Just today, AOL announced that they have partnered with News Corp.’s 20th Century Fox, Sony Corp.’s Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, NBC Universal’s Universal Pictures, and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group to provide video downloads online. But apparently this is just another step in the direction that many other companies have done already.
Think about it, why did it take marketers so long to venture into downloaded movies and music on the Internet? Sure, it’s probably all about piracy and copyright infringement, but c’mon, this issue wasn’t thought up right away, was it?
First there was Napster, then there were sibling applications like Kazaa, Morpheus, Bearshare, WinMX, MP3.com, etc. and while the RIAA made them fall one by one, they never thought that while they are protecting their artists and work (which is fine by me), they never thought about the potential revenue they could recieve by doing the same thing just by offering an alternative. With millions of dollars claiming to be lost, only after the big names in music downloading software were struck down, did someone force Napster to become legit and hence start the pay-for-music industry. Once started, it took a while for companies to start taking it seriously. Now Apple has been pretty good with their system — I mean, downloading individual songs for $0.99 each as opposed to paying $12.99 for a whole CD when you only want one song? That’s ludicrous.
In any event, now it appears that AOL has moved on to downloading videos for $9.99 – $19.99. These are popular movies and can only be viewed on your computer. No word yet on how you’ll be able to download the movie and burn it onto a DVD to watch on your wide screen tv, but I’m sure that’ll happen in the next few years. Until then, we’re all going to have to settle for watching Spider-Man 2 on our 19″ computer monitors. Luckily, one thing that AOL did right, compared to their competitors was to make their customers own the movie titles so that they will work forever and ever. If the titles weren’t owned by the customer, they would most likely cease to operate within a couple of days.
What’s the next big thing in downloading? Who knows. But at the time it takes to download a movie on a Cable/DSL modem, chances are that you might save some convenience time by just getting in your car and driving to Blockbuster.